My husband has been detained for over 750 days without a trial…

We need to engender trust in our laws and the protection of an individual’s civil rights. That is how we really fight terrorism, by being the beacon of justice and liberty that this country was founded on.

We need to engender trust in our laws and the protection of an individual’s civil rights. That is how we really fight terrorism, by being the beacon of justice and liberty that this country was founded on.

My husband, Ibrahim Mohammad, was arrested by US Marshalls on November 5, 2015, charged with the classic “conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.” For over two years he has been detained at Lucas County Corrections Center in Toledo, OH awaiting his day in court. His trial has been postponed four times, the judge has been changed three times, and he has been denied bond twice. Our most recent bond attempt was three weeks ago.

We are still awaiting a decision.

Ibrahim obtained his Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2004. We met through mutual friends and moved to Toledo to begin our new life in 2006. He began working at a local engineering consulting firm, where he gained a professional engineering license and excelled in his job. He became a lawful permanent resident in 2007 and eventually accepted a better job in 2015 with a successful engineering firm in Dallas, TX, where we lived with our four children. Then one day, the unthinkable happened. Law enforcement agents showed up at our home and arrested my husband, bewildered and confused, accusing him of supporting terrorist activities, and extradited him back to Toledo from whence the case originated. For two years, he has been separated from his family while he awaits trial, which has been postponed one too many times.

“Ibrahim is a civil engineer and devoted family man with no criminal history or associations with any militant organization,” explains David Klucas, Ibrahim’s attorney.

“Ibrahim has not posed any demonstrable flight risk or danger to the community where he had lived in peacefully for a decade. Ibrahim’s trial has been postponed at least four times, with further postponement likely.” This is how things work for desperate men longing to be with their families: decisions that take too long, that contradict speedy trial, that violate due process, and cut short the time a detainee might be allowed to spend with his family while awaiting trial. “This is not a particularly compelling case for the Government,” expounds Mr Klucas. “A review of the evidence disclosed to date fails to reveal Mohammad espousing any of the tenets of terrorism or condoning any terrorist acts. He has never expressed any hatred of or desire to harm the United States. This case is an example of the current atmosphere of suspicion and hostility to all things Islam. Let the Government present its case. Everyone deserves due process no matter their color or creed.”

The government and courts continue to delay his hearing and deny bond. All we want is for Ibrahim to be released to his family until his day in court and to have a speedy trial. Prolonged detention of this kind makes a mockery of the American justice system. A defendant must be considered innocent until found guilty. But as things stand, even if found innocent, Ibrahim, myself and our children will have already served a substantial sentence.

Ultimately, when you have been a part of the Muslim community in America for as long as we have, living post 9/11, you recognize a visit from the FBI as part of a familiar narrative. It’s like when you’ve read too many Agatha Christie novels: You go from being shocked each time about who committed what crime, in awe of Christie’s writing skills, until you reach a tipping point. A switch flips. You start to recognize the pattern in her writing, and suddenly, you can guess without fail the end of every novel.

It’s the same with these types of FBI cases. If you haven’t seen the pattern yet, it’s only because you haven’t read enough of them.

Almost all of the cases (which you will have heard about in the news as “terror plots”) are authored by the FBI, of their own construction. They involve undercover agents, claiming to be sympathetic to a Muslim cause, preying on the sentiments of people who are mentally ill, or alone and vulnerable, or else angry and frustrated with American injustices abroad. The agents seek out vulnerable targets, then construct a plot so flimsy it could never have taken off anyway. They involve targets in the plot just enough so they can later arrest them, indict them, convict them of a crime they would never have thought of were it not for the FBI itself. Often there are co-conspirators the FBI somehow manages to rope into the case because of their association to a target, even if the co-conspirators are clueless about any potential crime. Sometimes these cases are more along the line of thought crimes, defendants guilty of nothing their First Amendment rights don’t clearly protect.

Whatever version of the story it is, the underlying mechanism is the same. The FBI schemes, then declares itself a hero as it foils its own plot. A Muslim, or groups of Muslims, are caught in the crossfire of flimsy evidence. A jury made up of average Americans (not a single one Muslim, by the way) who are mass-fed fear, already exposed to a narrative of the defendant’s guilt through the media, is expected to weigh in on a genre they know nothing about. They haven’t read enough stories to see the pattern yet. The true roots of these modern Muslim witch-hunts began with the 2001 passage of the USA Patriot Act, which was later renewed as the USA Freedom Act. The Patriot Act, hurriedly passed by Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to show a tough response, contains the statues that effectively strip the guaranteed civil rights and liberties of anyone the government claims to have any suspicions of or links to terrorism. Warrants are no longer needed for a slew of covert activities, and there is no longer a prerequisite of “probable cause” for required warrants, searches, and seizures, but rather only “government need.”

Essentially, all the government has to claim is that they suspect a person of “conspiracy” of funding or supporting anyone or any group who may have an intention to plan an unspecified act of terror, and in one fell swoop, they no longer have to get a warrant for searches, they can claim secret evidence that the defendants have no right to see, they can detain suspects indefinitely while they try to find evidence, or else they can keep the suspect out of circulation just in case (e.g. Guantanamo Bay). The government has used the provisions of these Acts to spy on ALL Americans.

They have further investigated, intimidated, detained, and charged not only hundreds of thousands of American Muslims, but also nuns, priests, Green Party members, and any activists that may voice opposition to government policy. It is a Carte Blanche for government officials to use any means necessary to keep America safe against any individual they label suspicious through “government need.” Not only does this create an exception, or loophole, to the Constitution, but it also eliminates checks and balances, oversight, and accountability. It is dangerously reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984 and Communist-era McCarthyism.

Since 9/11, the FBI conducted over 500,000 voluntary interviews of Muslims and Arabs, most who did not know they were voluntary, in the years 2001-2004 alone. The FBI has 15,000 spies and informants and over 45,000 “unofficial” informants, mainly targeting the Muslim community. The “Terrorist Watch List” has almost 2 million names, 1 in every 20 is a U.S. citizen. This is akin to a murder committed in New York‘s inner city and the authorities then rounding up all black males between the ages of 18-35 for interviews and investigations. Afterwards, they proceed to detain a couple hundred of these individuals indefinitely, so they can claim they are preventing future violence. It’s nothing new, just a Muslim version of the same attempt to bypass the Constitution and target specific groups, garnering by – in from the public through mass-fed fear and a false sense of security from the other. It’s about cheap political points. It’s about being able to claim another foiled plot. It’s about the propaganda of war.

Make America Great Again has been branded as the saving grace of our nation.

But in reality, behind this one seemingly harmless motto, lies racism, hatred, bigotry, and systematic oppression of all minorities. How can we as Americans honestly allow ourselves to become blind to the tyranny being created by our current administration which will inhibit any person of color or any person of a non-Christian religion to be persecuted and succumb to nothing less than lynching in a courtroom? This very one Patriot Act has allowed for hundreds of men to be thrown behind bars in the past decade, and with this new administration inciting hatred and even violence against minorities, how many more innocent men will lose their lives to this sort of terror?

The single most important step in saving my husband and others like him from the ongoing intimidation, indefinite detainment, and violation of due process is by appealing the USA Patriot/ Freedom Act. More importantly, it is the only way to save our Constitution, our reputation, and restore personal rights and freedom, for ALL. We need to engender trust in our laws and the protection of an individual’s civil rights. That is how we really fight terrorism, by being the beacon of justice and liberty that this country was founded on.

Sign the Petition to demand Ibrahim’s release here.

by Umaima Jafri