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'Provocateurs' trapped post-9/11 suspects, claims rights advocate

12 March, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: A US-based human rights advocate has said that almost all of the terror suspects held in the US after 9/11 were trapped by "provocateurs" employed by FBI and other US agencies.

They were emotionally exploited by the anti-US propaganda, mostly based on photographs and videos of Iraq and Afghanistan showing US soldiers' excesses against unarmed civilians and prisoners.

"Their reactionary statements were used as a proof of their desire to wage war against America. They had been denied fair trials and are facing sentences worse than the convicted murderers," claimed Washington based human rights advocate, Mauri Saalakhan who serves as the director of The Peace Thru Justice Foundation and has authored a number of books like 'Islam & Terrorism', 'Myth vs Reality', 'Criminal Justice in America', 'September 11: The Truth', 'Will It Ever Be Known?' and 'Iraq: The Question of American Values'.

He delivered a speech at the Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad on Tuesday, on the topic of "Terrorism: American Policy and People". The event was chaired by IPS Chairman Professor Khurshid Ahmad and was attended by a large number of journalists, activists and students. Referring to the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, Saalakhan termed it as one of the worst miscarriages of justice in the history of the US. He said that not even one terrorism charge was included in the criminal indictment against her. The federal judge, Richard Berman, who presided over her trial in New York, granted the prosecution practically everything it wanted, most significantly, a ban on any testimony that would shed light on the missing five years of her secret imprisonment.

As a witness to the Aafia's trial, the advocate was of the view that her short trial, which began in February 2010, featured blatant inconsistencies in the testimonies of the government's star witnesses, and material evidence that clearly favoured the defendant.

"Despite this, Aafia was found guilty on all seven counts of the indictment and was unjustly sentenced to 86 years of imprisonment," Saalakhan deplored. The government's argument about the sentence revolved around Aafia's alleged hatred and desire to kill the Americans, a charge similar in all "terrorism" related cases through which hundreds of innocent individuals had been targeted during the last one decade, he noted.

Professor Ahmad, in his concluding remarks, said that the US policymakers should realise that "terrorism" was not born on 9/11. The mass killing of thousands of innocent people in the WTC incident was a highly condemnable act, however, fighting terrorism with greater terrorism would only result in the spread and globalisation of terrorism across the world.

"The consequences for such actions would be alarming including the loss of lives, sabotaged nations and heavy economic costs," he added. He also said that the signature of the war on terror was only the use of violence to fulfil various political and economic objectives. He stressed upon adopting a more realistic and pragmatic approach to the situation.


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