Saturday, April 9, 2016

AHRC Executive director Imad Hamad: Changing the Culture to Combat Terrorism

The American Human Rights Council Executive Director, Imad Hamad, published an excellent column in the Detroit News on the issue of terrorism and cultural change. It reads:

Terrorism is a global problem. Recently, there have been attacks in Turkey, Iraq, Mali, Belgium and Pakistan. It seems that almost no place on Earth is immune from the threat of terrorism. Granted, terrorism is a complex phenomenon and usually has many causes. Today, the world perceives terrorism committed by those of Arab nationality and/or those of Muslim faith as one of the most pressing threats to global security.
In countering terrorism, all decent, peace-loving people are in the same camp and are all required to be part of the solution instead of being spectators to unfolding tragedies.
Our duty and responsibility as peace-loving people is to help create a culture that values human rights of all people, and therefore helps immunize our youths against the virus of hate that focuses on the demographic background of the target and on political objectives rather than on people’s basic humanity.
In addition to laudable law enforcement efforts to disrupt and prevent terror, there are other efforts that can help counter terrorism. Many people wonder after every terror attack, why would anyone attack human beings indiscriminately, people whom the perpetrators do not know? One of the key factors that lead to these indiscriminate attacks is the world outlook of the attackers. The work for us in the human rights community is to change that.
As to the Muslim and Arab worlds, historically there were two major ideological projects — pan-Islamism and pan-Arabism. Both outlooks divided the world into us and them. Pan- Islamism called for the brotherhood and unity of all Muslims regardless of their national or ethnic background. Pan-Arabism called for the unity of the Arabs. Pan Arabism won the war of ideas until 1967.
However, the defeat of Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser was deemed a defeat of Arab nationalism as a viable ideology and pan-Islamism presented itself as the savior ideology.
We in the human rights community take no issue with political ideology. It is a freedom of expression issue. However, when a society in this day and age defines itself along the lines of Muslim or non-Muslim, without being enmeshed in a larger milieu of an emphasis on human rights and human brotherhood, this creates a fertile ground where misguided youths or youths with criminal backgrounds would not hesitate to attack the other.
In creating a cultural emphasis of respect for the human rights of all, and in the belief in the brotherhood of all humanity, we help prepare a society that has belief in human rights and humanity in its DNA.
Imad Hamad is executive director of the American Human Rights Council in Dearborn.

Source: the Detroit News, 4/8/2016

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Federal Southern District Court of New York: Iran shares responsibility for the 9/11 attacks

Southern District Court of New York

The Federal Southern District Court of New York: Iran shares responsibility for the 9/11 attacks
Court holds Iran and Hizbullah provided material support to al Qaeda
Case based on expert testimony, Iran does not participate*

The Arab media reported that an American court held Iran responsible, along with al Qaeda, for the 9/11 attacks.  There is a large number of civil cases filed by American citizens against Iran seeking damages for acts of terrorism around the world. Iran, for example, was held liable for the kidnapping and killing of American citizens in Beirut in the 1980s and ordered it to pay millions of dollars to the families of the victims and to the former prisoners. One of these victims is the former AP reporter Terry Anderson who, according to the Court, was held by a Hizbullah front group, Islamic Jihad, for 7 years in the 1980s. Anderson was paid about 6 million dollars from Iranian assets as compensation for this imprisonment. He wrote a book, Den of Lions: A Startling Memoir of Survival and Triumph about his experience. Another of the hostages, Reverend Terry Waite also wrote a memoir, Taken on Trust, about his years of captivity and also accused Hizbullah, Iran and the late Hizbullah top operational man, Imad Moghnieh, of being behind his ordeal.

Countries or states as they are referred to in international law, have sovereign immunity.  How is anyone able to sue a sovereign country? What did the Court find Iran liable for? What is the evidence? A case from the Southern District of New York, Havlish v. Bin Laden, et al. answered these questions.  Iran did not participate in the proceedings.  The judge decided the case mainly on expert testimony.

 Below are excerpts from the case. The questions are mine and the answer is an excerpt from the Court’s Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.

*How does an American court have jurisdiction over Iran, a sovereign country?
Pg. 3, #1: The court’s jurisdiction over Iran and the agency instrumentality Defendants is grounded in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”), 28 U.S.C. 1602, et seq. Section 1605A of the FSIA also serves as the basis for liability claims asserted by plaintiffs who are United States nationals.

*We see much Sunni-Shiite tensions in the world today.  Why and how did the Court find that Iran was working with Sunni terrorists who are known as anti- Shiite?
Pg. 16, #2: In the early 1990s, casting aside the historic bitterness between the Sunni and Shi’a sects of Islam, Sudanese religious-political leader Hassan al Turabi and Iran’s political leaderships and intelligence connections, beginning a united Sunni-Shiite front against the United States and the West. Ex. 6, Lopwz-Tefft Affid. 132-33; Ex. 2, Timmerman 2nd Affid. 48.

*The controversial Sunni Islamist leader Hassan al Turabi, who passed away recently, was fingered by the Court. What role did he play in bringing Iran and Sunni terrorists together?
Pg. 16, #2: While Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were headquartered in Sudan in the early 1990s, Hassan al Turabi fostered the creation of a foundation and alliance for combined Sunni and Shi’a opposition to the United States and the West, an effort that was agreed to and joined by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, leaders of al Qaeda , and by the leadership of Iran.  9/11 REPORT, pp. 60-61; Ex. 6, Lopez-Tefft Affid. 132; Ex. 3, Byman Affid. 23; see also 18-22, 24-28.

*The Court claimed that Iran provided much material support for al Qaeda, support without which the Court held it would have been harder for al Qaeda to attack the US on 9/11 and kill three thousand Americans. What is an example of that material support?
Pg. 20, #3: U.S., Saudi, and Egyptian political pressure on the Sudanese eventually forced them to expel Osama bin Laden in May 1996. Radical Afghan Sunni warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a strong Iranian ally, invited bin Laden to join him in Afghanistan. Hekmatyar and bin Laden had known each other during the 1980’s Afghan mujaheddin-Soviet war. Osama bin Laden then relocated to Afghanistan with the assistance of the Iranian intelligence services. Ex. 15, U.S. embassy (Islamabad) Cable, November 12, 1996; Ex. 7, Bergman Affid. 64; Ex. 2, Timmerman 2nd Affid. 99; see also 9/11 REPORT at pg. 65.

*The Saudis blame al Qaeda for the Khobar Tower attack that killed Americans. How was Iran involved in that attack?
Pg. 20, #4: The 9/11 Commission examined classified CIA documents establishing that IRGC-Qods Force commander Ahmad Vahidi planned the Khobar Towers attack with Ahmad al Mugassil, a Saudi-born al Qaeda operative. 9/11 REPORT, p. 60, n. 48. See Ex. 2, Timmerman 2nd Affid. 85-86.
A U.S. district court held that Iran was factually and legally responsible for the Khobar Towers bombing. Heiser v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 466 F. Supp. 2d 229 (D.D.C. 2006).

*Did Iran provide logistical support to al Qaeda, as to travel? Was Hizbullah part of that support? How?
Pg. 24, #5: The second way in which Iran furnished material and direct support for the 9/11 attacks was that a terrorist agent of Iran and Hizballah helped coordinate travel by future Saudi hijackers. As ­­­found by the 9/11 Commission, “[i]n October 2000, a senior operative of Hezbollah visited Saudi Arabia to coordinate activities there. He also planned to assist individuals in Saudi Arabia in traveling to Iran during November. A top Hezbollah commander and Saudi Hezbollah contacts were involved.” 9/11 REPORT at pg. 240.

*The Court connected the Lebanese Shiite Hizbullah to al-Qaeda. What role did Hizbullah play in the al Qaeda 9/11 attacks? What are the connections between the two groups that America calls terrorist organizations?

Pg. 25, #6: The actions of the “senior Hizballah operative,”Imad Mughniyah, and his “associate” and a “top commander” of Hizballah, in escorting 9/11 hijackers on flights to and from Iran, and coordinating passport and visa acquisition activities in Saudi Arabia also constituted direct and material support for the 9/11 conspiracy. 9/11 REPORT, pp. 240-41; Ex. 4, Kephart Affid. passin and specifically 3-5, 66, 70, 78; Ex. 6, Lopez-Tefft Affid. 104-07, 112-20, 264, 277; Ex. 3, Byman Affid. 32; 46-47, 49-50; Ex. 2, Timmerman 2nd Affid. 118-24; Ex. 7, Bergman Affid. 17; Ex. 8, Clawson Affid. 48-49, 59.

* Forum and Link. 4/7/2016.