For Immediate Release
Statement of Faisal Hashmi on Behalf of Family of Syed Fahad Hashmi
NEW YORK - Earlier this week our beloved son and brother Fahad pleaded guilty to
a single charge of material support for terrorism. He took the plea
after spending four years in prison, three of them in complete
Fahad's lawyer David Ruhnke said Fahad "made the best deal that was
available under the circumstances...the government wanted to lock him up
for the rest of his life. They were not successful in that goal."
With credit for time served, Fahad could be free by the time he's 40.
We welcome the fact that Fahad will leave prison with much of his
life in front of him, however we are extremely troubled by the process
that has brought us to this point. We are troubled not only for our
family but by the message a case like Fahad's sends to our community.
It disturbs us greatly that a young man known as a pillar of his
Queens community, who worked and studied hard and who, in the tumult of
growing up Muslim in America, choose a path of religious and political
activism, came to be demonized as an extreme danger to the country he
called home. Even though he was not accused of violence or of belonging
to a terrorist group he was denied the fundamental elements of due
process, tortured through solitary confinement and faced the prospect of
going before an anonymous jury based in part on the prosecution's ugly
assertion that his friends and family were as dangerous as they alleged
Furthermore, the case against Fahad relied on secret evidence based
in large part on the testimony of a government informant with a history
of lying. The material support statute under which he was charged is
notoriously flawed and the subject of outrage from civil libertarians.
It enables the government to take a grain of truth and bury it in an
ocean of innuendo and outright lies.
Except for our presence at the recent plea hearing Fahad has not been
permitted to see us for almost six months. We continue to be concerned
about the conditions of his confinement and will fight for the lifting
of the draconian Special Administrative Measures that remain in place.
My father brought our family to this country 27 years ago not only
because of the economic opportunities presented but also because he
believed in the values of justice and fair-play that are supposed to
Fahad's treatment makes a mockery of those values. The message this
case sends to the Muslim community is that we are being watched and that
we are less valued in American society and less entitled to the
protections under the Constitution.
We do not see this as the end to our struggle for justice. In seeking
justice for Fahad we hope that we have shed light on the need to start a
dialogue on the treatment of Muslims in America today. We believe the
principles on which this country was founded compel us to speak out
against the treatment of our community. We are an integral part of this
society and we should not be treated as less valuable citizens.
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