بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Muslims in the United States often lament the quality of their leadership. Muslims across the globe are often shocked at the narrative that imams and “scholars” in the United States promote.
However, chance does not explain such a consistent stream of high-profile leaders working with an agenda tailored to deconstruct the Ummah. Rather, a highly sophisticated selection process must be utilized to weed out problematic future leaders from cooperative ones.
Ahmed Omar Abu Ali is a Muslim man who was born in Houston, Texas. He was raised in upper-middle class Falls Church, Virginia. He attended Dar al-Hijrah masjid in Alexandria. Abu Ali’s father worked for the Saudi Royal Embassy in Washington, DC. Ahmed graduated high school from the Saudi Islamic Academy and went on to be admitted to the University of Maryland for his undergraduate degree.
In September of 2002, Ahmed felt that he had a different calling in life. Although there is no certainty, perhaps the events of September 11th 2001 encouraged him to learn more about his Din. As such, almost a year later, Ahmed decided to leave the University of Maryland and travel to Saudi Arabia to study Islam.
Ahmed was accepted to the Islamic University of Madina. At the time, the University was the most prestigious center of undergraduate and postgraduate Islamic education in the world. One can only imagine Ahmed’s excitement as he first entered the university, developing camaraderie with fellow students-of-knowledge and seeing scholars the likes of which he had only heard of.
What happened next is unclear. According to the United States government, Ahmed immediately contacted Al-Qaeda agents operating in plain sight in Madina. However, this account is contested. According to the defense, Abu Ali simply continued his studies in Madina University, training to become a religious scholar.
The Saudi intelligence services arrested Abu Ali in 2003, a year after he began his studies. His dormitory room was searched. The prosecution built the rest of its narrative and its ultimate decision to convict Abu Ali on the only material evidence it had: a confession.
Ahmed Abu Ali was detained and taken in for questioning. Amnesty International writes:
According to Ahmed Abu Ali, after his fourth or fifth interrogation by the Mabahith al-Amma in a detention centre in Medina he asked for a lawyer and was punched, kicked in the stomach, handcuffed and squatting, and struck with a hard object more than 10 times with his shirt both on and off. He also says that he was threatened with amputation or beheading, and that he was whipped, he estimated 20 or more times, while chained to the floor in a crouching position with full back and neck exposed.
He was taken to another prison near Riyadh, being held in solitary confinement for nearly two months. Solitary confinement for any period extending beyond a few days is considered torture which can cause irreparable mental damage. At this point, likely to avoid being tortured any more, Ahmed supposedly confessed to all wrong doing.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation then traveled to speak directly to him in September of 2003, while in custody in Riyadh. He again requested an attorney, which was his right under all international legal conventions. Amnesty International reports:
Following this interview he alleges that he was again punched and kicked and “handcuffed to a chain hanging from the ceiling and left standing up until the afternoon”. US officials interviewed Ahmed Abu Ali for four nights in September 2003. One FBI agent stated that he and Ahmed Abu Ali,
“…discussed the prospect of Mr. Abu Ali’s being prosecuted in Saudi Arabia, being prosecuted in Saudi Arabia and the U.S., being declared an “enemy combatant,” and being incarcerated indefinitely, perhaps for life without a trial, in the United States.”
In fact, both the judge assigned the criminal proceedings and the prosecuting attorney in the United States believed that Ahmad had been tortured. Judge John Bates in the US District Court for the District of Columbia noted that there was “at least some circumstantial evidence that Abu Ali has been tortured during interrogations with the knowledge of the United States.”
Federal prosecutor Gordon Kromberg was asked by Abu Ali’s defense attorney regarding whether Abu Ali would face charges domestically. Kromberg said, “He’s no good for us here. He has no fingernails left.”
Ahmed Omar Abu Ali did not receive an attorney to represent his interests until October of 2005, over two years later. This violated his American constitutional right to a speedy trial, right to legal counsel, and a slew of others. Despite testifying:
During these pre-trial proceedings Ahmed Abu Ali testified that he was slapped, beaten and whipped, while shackled and blindfolded, deprived of sleep and food, and on another occasion shackled and hung from the ceiling.
The judge still found that his confessions were voluntarily issued and that the Saudi government was reliable in documenting them. This is despite multiple British nationals housed in the same prison at the same time also testifying to being tortured into confessing to terrorism related offenses in a nearly identical fashion to Abu Ali. This is despite Dr. Allen Keller’s, the director of the NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, examination of Abu Ali’s back. The doctor found that he had scars from the Saudi’s whipping and torture.
Why would the United States accept such specious testimony?
During the civil rights movement, United States intelligence services developed a methodology for destabilizing black nationalist or separatist movements. This stratagem can be reduced to four steps: identify, isolate, discredit, and neutralize. In doing so, the government was able to thwart much of the efforts of these organizations and ultimately funnel their revolutionary energies elsewhere, thereby gaining control over the community.
After the fall of the Soviet Union and the release of Soviet-era intelligence tactics into the wild, the United States was able to adapt former Soviet tactics alongside their own illegal domestic operations.
These tactics were then perfected on the domestic “war on terror.” The United States government needed an effective way to destabilize the Muslim community and eliminate any imams who might betray the interests of the government. Any leader or speaker who could possibly turn the tide of public opinion against America’s efforts overseas or their ultimate campaign against Islam as a whole had to be stopped.
Such potential leaders were first identified. Ahmed would have likely been a senior scholar and spiritual leader not just to American Muslims, but all English-speaking Muslims. In addition to being piercingly intelligent, articulate, and charismatic – he was pursuing religious certification to prepare him for leadership. He was then isolated, tortured deep within the bowels of various prisons. He was discredited by being associated with various organizations.
What happened to Ahmed?
Ahmed was given a thirty-year sentence in his early 20s. Non-governmental advocacy organizations, his attorneys, and his family felt that this was unjust. They appealed on grounds of various legal issues surrounding the case. Ahmed won his appeal.
The government resentenced him to life in prison upon winning his appeal. He is being housed in a highly restrictive supermax prison where he has been held in solitary confinement for nearly two decades.
During his re-sentencing hearing, Imam Ahmed Omar Abu Ali said:
They say I am a criminal. I say may God’s curse and wrath be upon the criminals among us.
Judge Lee, I remind you, you too will appear before the Divine tribunal – with me.
On that day, there will be no lawyers, no sophistry … nothing will be hidden. He knows the whisperings in the chests.
If you [Judge Lee] are comfortable with that, you can decree upon me whatever you will decree.
Allah تعالى says,
قَدِ افتَرَينا عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا إِن عُدنا في مِلَّتِكُم بَعدَ إِذ نَجّانَا اللَّهُ مِنها ۚ وَما يَكونُ لَنا أَن نَعودَ فيها إِلّا أَن يَشاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّنا ۚ وَسِعَ رَبُّنا كُلَّ شَيءٍ عِلمًا ۚ عَلَى اللَّهِ تَوَكَّلنا ۚ رَبَّنَا افتَح بَينَنا وَبَينَ قَومِنا بِالحَقِّ وَأَنتَ خَيرُ الفاتِحينَ
We would be inventing lies against Allah if we returned to your religion after Allah has saved us from it. We could never return to it unless Allah our Lord so willed. Our Lord encompasses everything in His knowledge. We have put our trust in Allah.
Our Lord, judge between us and our people with truth. You are the best of judges.’ [Surah al-A’raf, The Heights (7):89]