The order to release the two comes amid criticism that the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies have caused authorities to leap to unfounded conclusions in cases that have fizzled or been dropped altogether after initial high-profile announcements.
Pakistani Man Charged With Criminal Immigration Violations
Charlotte, N.C. ? Gretchen C.F. Shappert, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina; Jeff Jordan, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Homeland Security U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Kevin Kendrick, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Charlotte Field Office of the FBI; and Chief Darrel Stephens of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, announced today the arrest of KAMRAN AKHTAR, also known as KAMRAN SHAIKH, a Pakistani foreign national.
Akhtar, a 36-year-old native of Pakistan who has an address at 42-66 Ketchum Street in Elmhurst, New York, was arrested on a federal criminal complaint following a brief investigation regarding immigration violations during which, it is alleged, the defendant made materially false statements to local and federal law enforcement representatives in Charlotte.
The charges contained in the complaint, filed on Thursday, August 5, 2004 under seal in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, include allegations that Akhtar violated the federal immigration and naturalization laws (Title 8 USC Section 1253 (1)(a)(A)) and that he made materially false statement or statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Untied States (Title 8 USC Section 1001 (a)(2)).
The defendant was ordered detained in federal custody today by U.S. Magistrate Judge Carl Horn following his arrest and initial court appearance on the federal criminal complaint. The defendant had been in custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since he was taken in for questioning by Officer Anthony D. Maglione of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on July 20, 2004.
According to official court documents, Akhtar was stopped and questioned by Officer Maglione on July 20, 2004 when the officer witnessed the defendant videotaping the downtown area of Charlotte near the intersection of South Tryon Street and Stonewall Avenue. (Please refer to the attached ICE affidavit)
The ICE affidavit filed in support of the complaint alleges that Akhtar claimed to be legally in the United States with a ?Green Card,? but that after further discussion, he finally admitted that he did not have a ?Green Card? and that he had not traveled back to Pakistan since he left the country in 1991. Further, according to the affidavit, on March 4, 1998 at the Immigration Court in New York City, the defendant was found removable and given until July 12, 1998 to voluntarily depart the United States.
Immigration Court records show that no effort was ever made by the defendant to formally adjust his status to that of permanent residence or to re-open his removal case to seek time to apply to become a lawfully admitted permanent resident. There is also no record that the defendant has ever applied for or received an advanced parole travel document.
Also, according to the affidavit, a review of the videotape contained in the defendant?s video camera showed video of the downtown area of Charlotte, North Carolina, including the Bank of America building and Wachovia Building. The defendant also possessed other videotapes that he allowed law enforcement agents to view. Those tapes included, among other things, video of buildings in other major U.S. cities, such as Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Houston, Dallas, Texas; and New Orleans, Louisiana.
The investigation is ongoing and is being conducted by the North Carolina Joint Terrorism Task Force, in which ICE, the FBI, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department are all participants.
Under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a defendant arrested on a federal criminal complaint is entitled to a probable cause hearing within ten (10) days of his/her arrest, unless indicted or unless a criminal information against the defendant is filed in U.S. District Court before the passage of ten days.
Defendants are entitled to a presumption of innocence under the law, and the government has the burden of proving every element of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for the enforcement of border, economic, infrastructure and transportation security laws. ICE seeks to prevent acts of terrorism by targeting the people, money and materials that support terror and criminal networks.
August 6, 2004
Michelle Malkin's book purports to justify the removal and incarceration of the Japanese Americans, in the service of advocating racial profiling by the Bush Administration.
Five former leaders of the Holy Land Foundation, once the biggest Islamic charity in the United States, were arrested Tuesday on charges that they funneled $12.4 million to Palestinian terrorists.
"These arrests are a sound bite for this administration in its war on terrorism," said John Boyd, a lawyer for Holy Land. "This is completely unfounded, and if the Holy Land Foundation is given an opportunity to defend itself, it will be able to rebut every charge made in this indictment."
Mr. Boyd accused the Bush administration of timing the announcement of the arrests - which grew out of an F.B.I. investigation into Holy Land dating to 1993 - in order to distract attention from the Democratic convention in Boston.
Law enforcement officials said there was no connection between the arrests and the convention. "These cases are brought when they're ready and can't be brought until they are," Attorney General John Ashcroft said in announcing the arrests at a news conference.
Arrested on Tuesday in the Dallas area were Shukri Abu Baker, the former president and chief executive of Holy Land; Ghassan Elashi, a former board chairman and treasurer; and Mufid Abdulqader, a top fund-raiser. Mohammed El-Mezain, a former chairman of the board, was arrested in San Diego, and Abdulraham Odeh, the group's representative in New Jersey, was arrested in Newark, officials said. In an interview on Monday, Mr. Baker denied that the group had given money to Hamas, and he blamed what he described as an anti-Muslim campaign of intimidation for the government's yearslong investigation.
Two other former Holy Land officials, Haitham Maghawri and Akram Mishal, were able to leave the country recently. Both were charged with providing material support to terrorists in the indictment unsealed on Tuesday in Dallas.
A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the two men were believed to have been living in the Dallas area as recently as about six months ago. Although the men were under criminal investigation, the F.B.I. did not have the resources for round-the-clock surveillance, and the Justice Department did not believe that it had enough evidence to bring a criminal case against them at that time, the official said.
It was unclear whether the two men were put on an aviation watch list to guard against them leaving the country, the official said, adding that "we left it up to the F.B.I."
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who pushed for tougher scrutiny of Holy Land in the late 1990's, said he was troubled that Mr. Maghawri and Mr. Mishal had left the country while under criminal investigation.
"I wonder why this prosecution has taken so long," Mr. Schumer said in an interview. "I think until recently we have not put the resources needed into tracking groups that finance terrorism, and the fact that they didn't get 24-hour surveillance on these two who escaped is galling and perplexing."
The Justice Department has opened a number of investigative fronts in an effort to reduce the flow of financial aid to terrorist groups, but some of its most visible cases, including the prosecution of a Chicago-based Muslim charity called Benevolence International, have produced mixed results.
The Sept. 11 commission, in its final report last week, found limitations in the government's ability to identify terrorist financing. Former Gov. Thomas H. Kean of New Jersey, the Republican chairman of the commission, said on Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that while the government has focused on trying to dry up terrorist money, "it might be more productive to spend more time following the money, because you can disrupt plots, you can find out what's going on, if you can follow these money trails."
Within months of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration froze several million dollars in Holy Land's assets. F.B.I. officials said they suspected that founding members of Holy Land in the early 1990's devised a scheme to funnel money to Hamas in support of jihad in Palestine.
The 42-count indictment unsealed on Tuesday charges that Holy Land used hospitals, Islamic committees and other organizations in the West Bank and Gaza that were controlled by Hamas to funnel money to terrorist causes. Payments were then distributed to family members of individuals who were "martyred" or jailed in terrorist attacks, the government charged.
In addition to the charges of providing material support to terrorists, the indictment includes charges of money laundering, conspiracy and the filing of false tax returns, and it seeks the forfeiture of the $12.4 million that government officials say Holy Land provided to Hamas since 1995.
But Holy Land, in a complaint filed on Monday with the Justice Department inspector general, charged that the F.B.I. had fabricated evidence and relied on faulty translations of Israeli materials in building its case.
Bush and Rumsfeld painted the U.S. abuse of prisoners in Iraq as the work of a few individuals. So how do you explain this August 1, 2002 memo from Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for Alberto R. Gonzales, counsel to President Bush?
QUESTION: Mr. President, the Justice Department issued an advisory opinion last year declaring that, as commander in chief, you have the authority to order any kind of interrogation techniques that are necessary to pursue the war on terror. Were you aware of this advisory opinion? Do you agree with it? And did you issue any such authorization at any time?
BUSH: The authorization I issued was that anything we did would conform to U.S. law and would be consistent with international treaty obligations. That's the message I gave our people.
QUESTION: Have you seen the memos?
BUSH: I can't remember if I've seen the memo or not, but I gave those instructions.
...this gives the sense that despite their recent claims of being "sickened" by the Abu Ghraib photos, Bush and Rumsfeld specifically approved the tactics in Iraq and Guantanamo, particularly when you read the laundry list of practices the memo specifically legalizes: "wall standing," "hooding," subjection to noise, sleep deprivation, deprivation of food and drink, and humiliation.
The memo authorizes the Executive (Bush) to give what orders he deems necessary to conduct interrogations:
In order to respect the President's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign against al Queda and its allies, Section 2340A must be construed as not applying to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his Commander-in-Chief authority.
(italics added, though the copy of the memo was also hand-underlined here by someone)
Previously on this site I focused exclusively on the detention of immigrants within the U.S. But the lines are starting to meet, as I'll get into when I have more time.
November 18, 2012
October 20, 2012
July 28, 2012
July 9, 2012