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Secret Evidence Laws Target Arabs, Muslims

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    Assalamu alaikum [THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views] Released August 7, 2000 The Wisdom Fund, P. O. Box 2723, Arlington, VA 22202 Website: http://www.twf.org --
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      [THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views]

      Released August 7, 2000
      The Wisdom Fund, P. O. Box 2723, Arlington, VA 22202
      Website: http://www.twf.org -- Press Contact: Enver Masud

      Secret Evidence Laws Target Arabs, Muslims

      by Enver Masud

      U.S. federal agents stormed into Hany Kiareldeen's shop,
      handcuffed him, and detained him for what would become
      19 months in jail--all on the basis of secret evidence.

      Kiareldeen, a 32-year-old Palestinian immigrant, had
      been held by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization
      Service (INS) since March 1998 because the FBI's Joint
      Terrorism Task Force had developed secret evidence that
      he had hosted a meeting with terrorists planning the
      World Trade Center bombing, and had talked of murdering
      Attorney General Janet Reno.

      Kiareldeen has been freed, but 20 other Muslims remain
      in U.S. jails on the basis of a 1996 anti-terrorism bill
      authorizing the use of secret evidence--evidence that
      neither the defendants nor their lawyers have the right
      to see--in deportation proceedings.

      The use of secret evidence by the INS was first
      authorized by the 1996 anti-terrorism bill that followed
      the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings.

      Secret evidence has been used in about two dozen cases
      around the country in which the INS asserted national
      security concerns as the basis for depriving immigrants
      of the right to examine and confront adverse witnesses
      and evidence. All of the cases are against Arab or
      Muslim immigrants reported Lorraine Adams and David A.
      Vise of the Washington Post ("Classified Evidence Ruled
      Out in Deportation, Oct. 21, 1999).

      Hany Kiareldeen was freed after seven judges reviewed
      his case and rejected government claims that he posed a
      threat to national security. But he has never seen the
      classified report used to jail him.

      According to the Christian Science Monitor, "The main
      charges apparently came from Kiareldeen's ex-wife, who
      was locked in a custody battle with him and had
      repeatedly made false accusations against him. The INS
      evidence alleged that Kiareldeen had hosted a meeting
      with terrorists in his Nutley, N.J., apartment 18 months
      before he had moved there."

      Nasser K. Ahmed, jailed by the U.S. government for more
      than three years on the basis of secret evidence was
      freed 40 days after Hany Kiareldeen, but Ahmed's case is
      not yet over--he is free on personal bond pending a
      final ruling by the INS Board of Immigration Appeals on
      whether he should be granted asylum. Using secret
      evidence, the INS had sought to deport Ahmed to Egypt
      after he overstayed his visa.

      Ahmed was accused of belonging to an Egyptian terrorist
      group of which Sheikh Abdel Rahman is said to be the
      spiritual leader. Ahmed admitted to being an admirer of
      Sheikh Abdel Rahman, but has denied involvement in

      The U.S. government also sought to use secret evidence
      to expel six Iraqis brought to this country by the CIA.
      In another case, the government arrested and sought to
      deport eight Los Angeles activists for the Popular Front
      for the Liberation of Palestine on the basis of secret

      For the first time, on October 20, 1999, a federal court
      weighed the constitutionality of the use of secret
      evidence and found it unconstitutional.

      Federal district Judge William Walls held in
      Kiareldeen's case that "the government's reliance on
      secret evidence violates the due process protections
      that the Constitution directs must be extended to all
      persons within the United States, citizens and resident
      aliens alike."

      Immigration judge, Donn Livingston, sharply criticized
      the government's case against Nasser K. Ahmed, calling
      it "double or triple hearsay," and questioned the
      reliability of some government sources, saying he had a
      "very real concern" that the Egyptian government might
      be the source of secret evidence against Ahmed. Judge
      Livingston cited "the very real danger that the Egyptian
      government" was seeking to silence Abdel Rahman, one of
      its harshest critics reports Benjamin Weiser of the New
      York Times ("U.S. Frees Egyptian Jailed on Secret
      Evidence," Nov. 30, 1999)

      Muslim and Arab groups have lobbied aggressively to
      repeal secret evidence laws.

      The Council on American-Islamic Relations, says "secret
      evidence is unconstitutional and is used
      disproportionately against members of the Muslim and
      Arab-American communities. Almost all of the individuals
      held based on secret evidence are Muslims and Arabs."
      CAIR argues that "the basic guarantee to due process of
      law contained in the Fifth Amendment should not be
      denied to anyone, citizen or non-citizen. To deprive any
      individual in the United States of liberty without a
      chance to confront the evidence used against him is a
      denial of justice. It flies in the face of American

      The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee argues,
      "this practice is manifestly unconstitutional and stands
      in direct violation of long-standing traditions
      guaranteeing the rights of defendants to confront the
      evidence against them. Moreover, since the passage of
      the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act,
      secret evidence has been used primarily against persons
      of Arab ethnicity and Muslim religious affiliation. At
      least three Federal judges have ruled that it violates
      5th amendment rights to due process."

      Secret evidence threatens not just Arabs and Muslims,
      but everyone's right to free speech--a right guaranteed
      by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
      Representative David E. Bonior of Michigan says it is a
      "travesty of justice that this continues in our country
      without people having the right to face their accusers."

      While the laws remain intact, on June 22, the U.S. House
      of Representatives voted to cut $173,480 in U.S. Justice
      Department expenses, the estimated annual cost of
      detaining people based on secret evidence.

      Largely symbolic, the amendment to a government
      appropriations bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Campbell
      (R-CA). (Reps. David Bonior [D-MI], Ray LaHood [R-IL]
      and Mark Sanford [R-SC] co- sponsors), does send a
      signal regarding Congressional intent, and reinforces
      recent court decisions.

      Campbell's amendment passed 239-173 following a one-hour
      debate in which House members voiced their opposition to
      secret evidence. Mr. Campbell also introduced
      legislation to ban the use of secret evidence entirely.
      The Secret Evidence Repeal Act (H.R.2121) has more than
      100 congressional sponsors.

      The only organizational opposition to H.R.2121 has come
      from the American Jewish Committee and the
      Anti-Defamation League--also a Jewish organization. The
      American Jewish Committee issued a statement voicing
      "deep regret" over the June 22 vote on the Campbell

      [Enver Masud is an engineering management consultant,
      author of "The War on Islam," and founder of The Wisdom
      Fund--www.twf.org. This article was published in England
      as "Fighting terrorism on hearsay," Impact
      International,August 2000.]

      Copyright � 2000 The Wisdom Fund - All Rights Reserved.
      Provided that it is not edited, and author name,
      organization, and web address (http://www.twf.org) are
      included, this article may be printed in newspapers and
      magazines, and e-mailed to others.


      [THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views]

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