Yemeni leader slapped with 5-year sentence
Published Dec 10, 2006 10:34 PM
Mohamed Albanna, a widely respected leader in the Western New
York Yemeni and Arab communities, was sentenced here on Nov. 30
to five years in prison for failing to pay a licensing fee.
Mohamed Albanna in 2002.
Albanna, former vice president of the American Muslim Council of
Western New York, has been a prominent spokesperson supporting
the rights of the “Lackawanna Six”—six Yemeni
men arrested in December 2003. Supporters charge the arrests were
part of the hype for the Bush administration’s “war
The infraction for which Albanna was sentenced to a five-year
prison term would normally result in a fine. This adds to the
belief that the charges against him were part of the
government’s ongoing campaign of racism and intimidation
against U.S. residents of Muslim and Middle Eastern
The court was obviously expecting the extremely large turnout of
supporters. Identification was required, names were recorded,
bomb-sniffing dogs were arrayed around the lobby. However, the
courtroom used was one of the smallest in the building and half
the supporters were refused any access to the proceedings.
The prosecutors, the FBI and big-business media continue to try
to justify the injustice done to Albanna by hinting or suggesting
that he might somehow be connected with what they term
“terrorists,” although they admit there is no
evidence whatsoever of such a connection.
In fact, Albanna’s “crime” was that he ran a
hawala—a way for families to transfer money to relatives in
Yemen. But that did not stop these false accusations or the
brutal sentencing of this prominent Yemeni community leader to
the maximum possible jail term—for an infraction that often
results in a mere slap on the wrist for businesses.
A spokesperson for the Buffalo/Western New York branch of the
International Action Center at Federal Court told media that the
Bush administration’s lies, fear-mongering and racism can
no longer convince workers and the poor to support the so-called
Patriot Act, and that Western New Yorkers have begun to realize
that the real terrorists are in the White House, Congress and the
She called for support for the Albanna family and the Yemeni
community here, which has been targeted in an unending stream of
injustices as part of the Bush administration’s “war
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