Emadeddin Z. Muntasser, former president of Care International, gets a one year jail sentence, which apparently keeps open the option to detain and possibly deport Muntasser after he serves his sentence. This is a welcome outcome after Saylor overturned the jury's guilty verdict last month and dropped a number of charges against other Care International officers. Not too shabby an outcome, all in all.
"The founder of a Muslim charity was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court to a year in prison and fined $10,000 for lying to an FBI agent when he denied traveling to Afghanistan in 1994-1995."
"In sentencing Emadeddin Z. Muntasser, former president of Care International Inc., a defunct Boston charity, Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV doubled the maximum amount of prison time and the fine called for under the federal advisory sentencing guidelines. Mr. Muntasser, 43, is a former Worcester resident and Worcester Polytechnic Institute graduate living in Braintree. He must report for his prison sentence within four weeks."
"...Mr. Muntasser was detained Jan. 11, the day a federal jury convicted him in Boston on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and scheming to conceal material facts as well as lying to a federal agent. But expectations that Mr. Muntasser might be freed on a sentence of time served were raised after Judge Saylor reversed the jury verdict on the two most serious charges and freed Mr. Muntasser June 13 on conditions to await sentencing yesterday."
Judge Saylor said that Muntasser's statements to a federal agent - about a trip to Afghanistan to meet with Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar - were not the "garden variety false statements." I like this exchange of views between the defense and Judge Saylor:
"...Ms. Sullivan (defense lawyer) argued that Mr. Hekmatyar had been invited to the White House as an anti-Soviet hero, but Judge Saylor said that by 1994 Mr. Hekmatyar was shelling Kabul and by the time of the interview in 2003 he had been branded a terrorist by the U.S. government."
The judge also commented that while Muntasser showed "many charitable and other worthy attributes," Saylor had difficulty reconciling that with what he read in Care International's newsletter Al Hussam, which supported violence and called for "rivers of blood to flow." Welcome to the fight against jihadism and extremism, Judge Saylor. That's what it looks like, there's the public side and there's the underside. The public side masks the underside, where the real action is. The public side is so good, that people who raise questions about the underside get branded as Islamophobes or racists. It's an effective cover.
Who would have thought a couple of years ago that we'd be talking about Afghan warlords and jihadi newsletters in our civilian court trials? For a case where Judge Saylor kept reminding the jury "wasn't about terrorism," it obviously was. I don't have a problem with that, but as it seems a clumsy, costly, often ineffective way to fight terrorism. It makes a dent, no doubt, and maybe scares some people from supporting terrorist groups. But this trial demonstrates what a poor fit our civilian court system is for getting these guys.
And the jail time for Muntasser does nothing to deal with the hundreds (thousands?) of people in the Boston/Worcester area who wrote out checks to Care International marked "for Chechnya" or "for jihad only." How do we fight what appears to be significant support for terrorist groups in Massachusetts?
Kudos to Lee Hammel of the Worcester Telegram for his in-depth reporting on this case. Lee, how about asking for comments from Muntasser’s previous defense team – Susan Estrich and Harvey Silverglate?
My previous blog postings on this case here.