Life in prison is difficult, especially for 20 Muslim inmates at a high security unit housing 30 people in total. They miss their families, sometimes squabble among themselves and struggle to maintain hope during long days.
That's the message offered in an article published this month by the Muslim Link, an online and print bi-weekly newspaper which serves the Washington and Baltimore metropolitan areas.
Take 48-year-old Adham Hassoun, who "can joke 24 hours a day. But behind this humor hides a great concern for the Muslim Ummah," the article says. He also "is ready to help whenever called upon, and will leave behind everything which is important to him to do that, unless he is watching Stargate on the SciFi Channel."
Hassoun also is "a co-defendant of the well-known Jose Padilla, and is serving a 15 year sentence on terrorism charges," the article says. But Hassoun's conviction stems from support for al-Qaida, and his 2007 convictions for conspiracy to commit murder abroad and provide material support to terrorists included "actively recruiting mujahideen fighters and raising funds for violent jihad." In prison, though, he's good at dispute resolution, "for he holds in his heart immense mercy for his brothers."
The article, purportedly written by an inmate of the Communications Management Unit (CMU) in Terre Haute, Ind., emphasizes the prisoners' positive characteristics, concluding with a mailing address for people to write letters of support. "It is because of the sacrifices of these few that many still live in peace," it says. "It is by the virtue of their sincerity, supplication and prayer that insha Allah Islam will be victorious. Indeed it is by the virtue of their sacrifices that they are honored as the few among the few in the CMU."
According to the group that established the newspaper,"[s]everal elected officials read the Muslim Link to keep abreast of issues important to their constituents, while some governmental agencies partner with the Muslim Link to ensure their public announcements and services reach all segments of society." In addition, the Muslim Link boasts that it is "the premier source for information about the Muslim community in MD, DC and VA," and the paper won media awards for its reporting.
Among the prisoners featured in the article:
- Mohamad Hammoud is described as "an inspiration of hope" for maintaining an active schedule and inspiring the others not to give up. Hammoud, a Lebanese native, was convicted in 2002 for providing support to Hizballah through a cigarette smuggling ring based in North Carolina. Evidence in the trial revealed links between Hammoud and Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Hammoud's original 155 year sentence was reduced in January to 30 years.
- Kevin James is "known throughout the California state prison system for his dedication to Islam," the article says, noting his 10-year sentence for terrorism charges. But that dedication may have led to his incarceration. In 2007, James pled guilty to conspiring "to levy a war against the Government of the United States through terrorism." While an inmate in California state prison, James created a terror cell "to target for violent attack any enemies of Islam or 'infidels,' including the United States Government and Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Israel."
- Mukhtar Al-Bakri was sentenced to 10 years in prison in December 2003 on charges of providing material support to al Qaida. He traveled to an al-Qaida training camp near Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he received weapons, explosives, training and provided guard duty. Al-Bakri also met Osama Bin Laden while at the al Farooq camp. The Muslim Link story describes Al-Bakri as "the champion of the workout galaxy. Nobody in his weight class is stronger than him in the CMU."
- Ali Asad Chandia was a member of a Virginia Jihad network, and was charged in 2005 and found guilty the next year of providing material support to the terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT). The network was described by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2003 as the largest American-based terror cell connected to LeT. By the end of the investigation more than a dozen conspirators were implicated. The story says, "He [Chandia] gets along with everyone, avoids disputes, and spends much of the time in his cell."
- Shukri Abu Baker, former head of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), is serving 55 years in prison. His "crime was to feed the poor, build schools and hospitals, and provide scholarship and relief to the people in war torn countries across the globe," the story says. In fact, jurors found that HLF illegally routed more than $12 million to Hamas through a series of charities controlled by the terrorist group. HLF was the financial arm of a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy in the United States called the Palestine Committee, which sought to serve Hamas with "media, money and men."
There's nothing wrong with providing moral support to prison inmates, despite whatever crimes they may have committed. But the article published by the Muslim Link minimizes their wrongdoing, or casts them as victims incarcerated for merely trying to help needy people. Instead, the article says, "readers will get a firsthand account of who these prisoners are and, since the day they were snatched from their loved ones, how they were able to maintain their sanity. Perhaps, if the world gets to know these prisoners and prays for them, Allah will bring an immediate end to their ordeal."