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Newburgh 4 meeting exposes

Another case of FBI entrapment

Published Jul 2, 2009 7:43 PM

Relatives of the Newburgh 4 spoke on June 18 at a forum in White Plains, N.Y. Everything they said reinforced charges by the Islamic community that the FBI is entrapping innocent Muslim men for political reasons.

Sensational headlines in May accused James Cromitie (aka Abdul Rahman), David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction within the U.S., which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, which carries a mandatory minimum of 25 years and maximum of life in prison.

All four men were ex-prisoners struggling to make a living.

Alicia McWilliams, aunt of David Williams, asked why his parole officer never intervened during the year-long government operation. She questioned how a petty drug dealer like her nephew could suddenly become a terrorist mastermind.

Explaining that all the defendants were poor, uneducated and Black, McWilliams compared agent provocateur Shahed Hussain, who used the name Maqsood, to a “drug dealer preying on poor kids” or a “pimp targeting young girls right off the bus in Times Square.”

Hussain is the same agent who was used by the FBI in the widely publicized terrorism case against Albany, N.Y., pizza-shop owner Mohammed Mosharref Hossain and Yassin Muhiddin Aref in 2004. Instead of wasting taxpayer money on frame-ups, McWilliams wants the government to “give men coming from jail something solid,” like jobs they can feel proud of and raise families with.

McWilliams’ sister, Elizabeth, mother of David Williams, described how she and her sick son, who needs a liver transplant, were swarmed by an army of cops. She said both were handcuffed and held for five hours, even though Homeland Security must have known Williams did not live there. She reported that Williams had said he knew a man who was soon going to “help with the medical bills” for his brother. Now she is torn over which son she has to help the most.

Kathleen Barnes, fiancé of James Cromitie, described how the informant stalked Cromitie and her family. She said Maqsood showed up often in his Hummer, BMW or other expensive vehicle, asking for James and offering money to her and their children. Cromitie avoided him for weeks at a time, telling Barnes, “Don’t take nothing from him.”

But the agent eventually caught Cromitie at home, and on May 21, five SWAT vans and a truckload of armed men attacked Barnes’ home, slammed her to the ground and held a gun to her head. No search warrant was ever shown.

Another speaker at the forum, who was afraid of losing her job, refused to reveal her name. She had already lost her longtime job as a housekeeper when her boss found out about the charges against her partner, Onta Williams. She described Newburgh as an impoverished city, and could not understand why the FBI picked her town in which to stage this frame-up.

Nada Khader, representing the WESPAC Foundation which hosted the event, explained that Laguerre Payen, who was unemployed and took medication for schizophrenia before his arrest, was not represented by counsel because he is from Haiti and has no family in the New York area.

Pointing to the 50 percent unemployment rate for African-American men in Newburgh, Khader said targeting these men by the FBI is entrapment and called the four “victims of capitalism.”

Lynne Jackson of Project SALAM raised the similarities among many of the FBI entrapment cases, including the use of informants who suggest the crime, recruit and organize the conspiracy, and finally arrange the purchase of weapons.

Ferik Duka, father of three of the Fort Dix 5, spoke on the phony terrorism cases since 9/11, with many “arrests and convictions despite no facts.” He explained that by targeting innocent Muslim men here, the U.S. justifies its “wars against terrorism” abroad.

Mauri’ Saalakhan of the Peace and Justice Foundation ended the meeting by announcing a July 3 rally in Washington, at which family members of Muslim defendants are invited to speak. Among the issues to be addressed will be the relentless targeting of Muslim organizations, the use of agent provocateurs in Islamic communities, and harsh sentencing of up to life in prison for convictions in cases in which no one was harmed. For more details, contact [email protected] or call 301-762-9162.