Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Washington Post Article on Falls Church Man's Sentence in Terror Plot

Falls Church Man's Sentence in Terror Plot Is Increased to Life

By Jerry MarkonWashington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, July 28, 2009
A Falls Church man convicted of plotting with al-Qaeda to kill President George W. Bush was resentenced to life in prison Monday after the judge said his release would threaten "the safety of the American citizenry."

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali had been given a 30-year prison term after he was convicted in 2005 of joining an al-Qaeda conspiracy to mount a series of Sept.

11-style attacks and assassinations in the United States. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld the conviction last year but sent the case back for resentencing, indicating that the sentence should be more severe.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee obliged on Monday, saying he had reevaluated the case and concluded that the danger of ever releasing Abu Ali is too great. "I cannot put the safety of the American citizenry at risk," he said, citing Abu Ali's "unwillingness to renounce the beliefs that led to his terrorist activities."

The resentencing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria marked an apparent end to one of the most emotional and highest-profile terrorism cases since the Sept, 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Prosecutors portrayed Abu Ali, who was valedictorian of his 1999 class at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Fairfax County, as an example of the threat of homegrown terrorism.

His trial was the first in a U.S. criminal court to rely heavily on evidence gathered by a foreign intelligence service.

Security officers from Saudi Arabia, where Abu Ali was jailed for 20 months, provided the bulk of the government's case, testifying via video from the kingdom.

Abu Ali's family, which mounted a highly public campaign for his return to this country, said that he was tortured by Saudi security officers and that U.S. officials were complicit -- allegations that have gained resonance in recent years because of the fierce debate over the Bush administration's treatment of detainees.

But the judge, jury and appellate court rejected that argument. A juror said after the trial that Abu Ali's videotaped confession was "chilling" and showed no sign of coercion.

Before the judge imposed the tougher sentence Monday, Abu Ali said he was being mistreated at the highly secure federal prison in Colorado known as the "supermax," and he blamed "a rogue Justice Department" for his conviction.

"I cannot pretend that this is justice," said Abu Ali, who said he wanted to "remind" the judge "that one day you will go before the divine tribunal.

Allah, he knows the doings of every soul. If you are comfortable with that, then you can decree whatever you want to decree."

As he left the courtroom, Abu Ali smiled and waved to a large crowd of supporters, some of whom called out in Arabic "Salaam aleikum," or "Peace be with you." Abu Ali's parents declined to comment.

His attorney, Joshua Dratel, said in an interview that the life term was "unfortunate" and that the original sentence was reasonable.

"What they are really doing is setting a mandatory minimum term of life in prison for terrorism cases," said Dratel, who had urged Lee to resentence Abu Ali to no more than 30 years. "That's contrary to what the law is."

Prosecutors asked the judge to impose life. "This defendant planned acts of terrorism that were designed to inflict massive casualties on innocent civilians within the United States," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Campbell.

David H. Laufman, who prosecuted the case and is now a Washington defense lawyer, attributed the sentence in part to "Abu Ali's refusal to express even a scintilla of remorse for his conduct," and he said the case "underscores the ability of federal courts to resolve the most complex legal issues" in terrorism matters.

For years, U.S. officials have been debating whether to bring such cases before the criminal justice system or to military tribunals.

The 4th Circuit judges who reviewed Abu Ali's conviction indicated they thought some terrorism cases should remain in the federal courts.

The prosecution of Abu Ali was among a series of major terrorism cases in the Alexandria federal court after Sept. 11.

Jurors convicted Abu Ali, then 24, on all nine counts, including conspiracy to assassinate the president. Prosecutors said Abu Ali had taken credit for originating the plot against Bush, which had not advanced beyond the talking stage.

They said the plot included crashing airplanes, killing members of Congress, and bombing nightclubs and public gatherings.

Saudi security officers arrested Abu Ali in 2003 on suspicion that he was connected to a bombing that killed 23 people in that country.

His incarceration triggered a flurry of legal and diplomatic activity, with Abu Ali's parents insisting that he be returned to the United States.

Check it out:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/27/AR2009072701384.html

FRC Article on Islamic Saudi Academy

Gym, Geometry...Jihad?
A group of Virginians who are outraged about the plans to expand a Muslim school may have just gotten the ammunition they need to block the project.

The Academy, whose activities were suspicious enough to warrant an investigation by a federal commission, has been incredibly controversial since its doors opened.

After last year, the U.S. panel actually recommended the school, which is funded entirely by the Saudi Arabian government, be closed.

Among other things, reporters found that the textbooks encouraged Muslims to kill adulterers and converts from Islam.

According to curriculum obtained by MSNBC in 2008, the Islamic Saudi Academy has been a breeding ground for terrorists.

School officials have denied the claims, but that may prove difficult after yesterday's court ruling. At the insistence of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, a U.S. District judge increased the sentence of Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, an Al Qaeda operative who was convicted for plotting to assassinate President Bush, from 30 years to life.

It turns out that Ali was the valedictorian of his 1999 class at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Fairfax County.

So much for teaching peace and tolerance! These schools are fueling the very ideas that made terrorists fly planes into the twin towers!

Meanwhile, residents are doing everything they can to stop the plans, even forming an official coalition.

The request to expand the Academy is so unpopular in Falls Church, Virginia that 46 people have asked to speak at an upcoming hearing.

In a New York Times article earlier this summer, the head of the group, James Lafferty, said, "We feel that it is really a madrassa, a training place for young impressionable Muslim students in some of the most extreme and fanatical teachings of Islam.

That concerns us greatly." And it should concern all of us who don't want to experience another 9-11 before our government takes this home-grown extremism seriously.

Check it out: http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=WU09G19&f=PG07J01

Thursday, July 16, 2009

News Article for VAST

The Iconoclast
Thursday, 16 July 2009
"The world is watching:" a conversation with Jim Lafferty of VAST
Jim Lafferty of the Virginians Against Sharia Task Force (VAST) discussed Monday’s Fairfax County Board of Supervisors hearing on ‘rubber stamping’ the County Planning Commission recommended expansion of the controversial Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA).

Lafferty was a colleague when we worked last year on the original protests against the hateful Islamic Studies texts prepared by the Saudi Education Ministry and used by students at the ISA . Those protests were chronicled in several NER articles and Iconoclast posts.

The media reports on Monday’s hearing included those of FoxNews, Christian Broadcasting Network and local TV news affiliates of commercial channels.

Not much appeared in the Washington, DC metro area dailies, although Lafferty indicated that he had been interviewed by the Washington Times. He made a point of noting the presence at the Fairfax County hearing of a stringer for the New York Times, who might possibly write a piece to be published this weekend.

Lafferty described Monday’s session as being a virtual turnabout from the previous County Planning Board session. At the prior hearing probably two-thirds were parents and supporters of the ISA from the radical Muslim community in Northern Virginia.

The anti-ISA protesters including Lafferty, Denise Lee and Catherine Martin from the ACT! For America Northern Virginia chapter, Christine Brim of the Center for Security Policy and John Cosgrove of the Virginia chapter of United American Committee. They were in the distinct minority.

Lafferty remarked that how many of these ISA supporters gave the protesters, the proverbial “Bela Lugosi stare.”
However, as Lafferty pointed out, this time VAST widely distributed flyers opposing the ISA expansion at the Owl’s Head site and held seeding conversations with Fairfax Republican women’s groups.

The resulting turnout at the County Board of Supervisors’ session was a complete reversal. Two thirds of the attendees were on the anti-ISA/Sharia side.

The balance was from national and local CAIR chapters and the radical Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church.

What resulted from VAST’s efforts was the crystallization of a national and global anti-Sharia movement. Several stalwarts of the Jacksonville ACT! For America chapter drove up from Florida expressly to attend this hearing and demonstrate solidarity.

Key members of that group attended the protest against Muslim Day, at the Florida State Capitol in March. Lafferty noted that a number of Germans called Fairfax County to protest the hearings that, according to him, the Board of Supervisors found jarring. While the hearing record will be open until August 3rd, Lafferty believes that the roiling controversy may extend the closing date for comments.

The message conveyed by these international protests may have triggered a growing movement against the threat of ‘creeping Sharia’ here in the US and certainly abroad in Europe.

Lafferty told of developments from both sides of the aisle in Congress. Rep. Frank Wolf of Northern Virginia, because of his ranking membership on the State Operations Appropriations Subcommittee in the House, has been critical of the State Department’s less than forthcoming efforts to condemn the hate texts supplied by Saudi Arabia.

This was based on several reports by Nina Shea and others at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. Lafferty noted that Rep. Anthony Wiener (D-NY) had picked up the issue and commented on it in a press release.

On Tuesday, Lafferty’s wife, Andrea, had the opportunity to brief New York Senator Charles Schumer on the matter. Lafferty saw this as evidence that the anti-Sharia message has moved beyond partisan political concerns.

One curious disclosure came from the Fairfax hearings. Lafferty noted that they couldn’t verify who the applicant for the ISA's Owl’s Head campus site expansion is.

“There is no ISA, Inc. of record on the application, ” he told us. That begs the question as to whether, as we had uncovered last year, the Royal Saudi Embassy in Washington is the actual sponsor.

The Saudi embassy currently pays the lease on a former County Board of Education middle school in Alexandria. Thus, the inquiries of Rep. Wolf to our State Department on whether the Saudi Embassy is the sponsor. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the sponsor of 20 such private schools in countries across the globe.

During a “Glen Beck Show “segment on Tuesday, Lafferty was a guest. He referred to the Saudi national, Raed Abdul-Rahman Al Saif, a former ISA student, caught at Tampa airport last month with a seven inch butcher knife about to board a flight.

We commiserated with Lafferty about the remarkable coincidence between the four murdered American Somali young men and the quartet of ISA graduates. Both groups were Jihadis. The dead Somalis were the equivalent of Shahids or Martyrs in Islam.

The four former ISA graduates included Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, an American Muslim and Class of 1999 Valedictorian. He joined al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, was captured and convicted in a US federal court of a plot to assassinate former President Bush and was sentenced to 30 years in a federal penitentiary.

Mohammed Osam Idris and Mohammed el Yacoubi, graduates of the ISA were intercepted upon entering Israel in 2001 intent on becoming Shahid suicide bombers.

They were sent back to the US for prosecution. The Saudi national, Al Saif, arrested at Tampa Airport last month has been arraigned without bail on terrorism related charges.

The common thread between both groups of Jihadis, the home grown Somali terrorist recruits and the ISA graduates, is the Wahhabist hate-filled doctrine conveyed in radical Mosques in Minneapolis and via school texts at the ISA.

The conclusion that Lafferty reached about this turn of events in the war against “creeping Sharia” can be summed in a 1960’s expression, “the world is watching.”

Let us hope that the Fairfax Board of Supervisors takes note of that when they review the record of the ISA expansion hearing. Otherwise, Sharia will continue to rise in America threatening to contravene our Constitution and deprive us of our liberty and freedoms in the name of Jihad.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Get to know James Lafferty

James Lafferty is a veteran political/public relations consultant based in Washington, DC. At various points in his career he has worked as an award-winning investigative newspaper reporter, a public relations executive in New York and Washington and served in both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administrations in senior positions.

He served as Communications Direct and Press Secretary in the House Majority Whip’s office in 1994. Prior to that service, he worked as Press Secretary for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress.

Currently, Mr. Lafferty is President and a founding partner of The Policy Communications Group, a political and public relations firm in Northern Virginia which provides counsel to a number of corporations, foreign governments and political campaigns.