Suddaby doesn’t deserve federal judgeship


U.S. attorney prosecuted Albany Muslims who were set up with no regard for justice


BY JEANNE FINLEY For The Sunday Gazette (Schenectady)

Published October 7, 2007


    The “preemptive conviction” edict in the war on terror put forth by the Justice Department in post-9/11 America was eagerly pursued by Glenn Suddaby, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York, in his prosecution of Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain. They are the two Albany Muslims convicted in Albany in 2006 of money laundering and aiding terrorism.

    Mr. Suddaby’s targeting and punishment of Muslims here and in Syracuse (the Rafil Dhafir case) has now been rewarded by his nomination for a federal judgeship, bolstered by support from Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    In a May 13, 2007 Viewpoint in The Sunday Gazette, Mr. Suddaby wrote:

    “A sting allows law enforcement the opportunity to probe the willingness of a person to commit a crime without the risk of the crime actually being completed. . . . As for Aref and Hossain, both men had . . . FBI business cards in their possession (Aref had promised to alert the FBI to anything suspicious), both men later were presented with criminal opportunities, but when shown a surface-to-air missile, Hossain did not ‘raise the hue and cry,’ and neither man [raised it] when told of a planned terrorist attack in New York City. Rather than walk away, both men continued to participate in money laundering transactions.”

    Of course, the last two sentences tell the story from the prosecution’s side — and are rebutted in the trial testimony by clear evidence from the defense. First, by Mr. Suddaby’s own definition of a sting, no crime was completed or thus committed. His office proclaimed on March 8, 2007, the day Aref and Hossain were sentenced, that “there was no evidence of terrorist activity,” which then raises the question, why was this case prosecuted at all?


    The “terror” plot was a complete fabrication, concocted by the FBI; the only risk that existed was to the two defendants, who were targeted in the first place simply because they were Muslims and because the Justice Department had to persuade the public that Republicans were protecting the country from (Muslim) terrorists. Aref and Hossain were not “probed” by the government; their lives, rights, and families were destroyed, and the local Muslim community was terrorized.

    Second, Aref was simply an uninvolved witness to loan transactions, and he threw the FBI informant out of his own house when the informant disjointedly mentioned an attack (unconnected to the loans), saying that even though he knew he wasn’t serious, that kind of loose talk could get people in trouble.

    And although a fabricated sting may be legal, where in the Constitution is law enforcement allowed to charge and jail someone who might commit a crime, or who fails to alert authorities when he is unaware that any crime is being committed?

Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Comey assured the public on the day of the Aref and Hossain arrests in 2004 that “[w]e believe there was ample predication for this investigation,” and that the case “sends a message.”

    But the “predication” turned out to be the illegal NSA wiretap program, and the only message it sent is that if you are a Muslim, you will be targeted by the government. Aref’s forthcoming appeal gives solid evidence that he was surveilled under the NSA program prior to March 2004, when the program was acknowledged to be illegal even by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.


    In testimony to the same Judiciary Committee that will decide Suddaby’s appointment, Comey disclosed a showdown at Ashcroft’s hospital bed over reauthorization of the NSA program and the threatened resignations of Ashcroft, other senior Justice Department officials, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Comey himself over its illegality, resignations that were only forestalled by President Bush acceding to changes in the program that gave it at least a legal rationale.

    Neither Aref nor Hossain, nor their attorneys (despite security clearances), nor the jury have seen this secret evidence to date. Indeed, the forthcoming Aref appeal is viewed by many as being the “test case” for the NSA, since the secret evidence was handled in a way that violated many fundamental constitutional rights, including the Sixth Amendment right of the accused to confront evidence against him and the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

    The ACLU and The New York Times have filed amicus briefs in support of Aref and his appeal.


    Sen. Schumer has been a strong voice of outrage on the Judiciary Committee over the NSA’s abuses. So where is his outrage and concern with circumvention of the law in his support for Glenn Suddaby, who prosecuted the Aref/ Hossain case knowing full well that the original targeting of Aref was based on illegal NSA wiretaps and that no terrorist activity subsequently took place?

    As citizens, we must recognize that Mr. Suddaby did not seek justice in this case, simply a conviction to add to his resumé, and raise our voices in protest against his judicial nomination, which will reward him for warping civil liberties, the Constitution, and the rule of law.


Jeanne Finley is a member of the Muslim Solidarity Committee.