Updated 10/03/2009 08:03 AM
Book accuses investigators of creating "artificial terrorists" in Albany case
A new book written by the leader of an Albany Mosque that was raided back in 2004 accuses the FBI of framing the two men now convicted of terrorism-related charges. The two, Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, became caught up in a fake plot to launder money. The FBI says both men believed the scheme would set up an attack on a Pakistani official near the United Nations building. Steve Ference followed the case in federal court from start to finish and has the story.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Attorney Kathy Manley said, "It wasn't a real terrorist plot."
Manley, one of a number of supporters of Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, who touted a new book out Friday. It claims the men were framed in a high profile terrorism-related case.
"They were entrapped in a clever way," said author and Masjid As-Salam Mosque President, Dr. Shamshad Ahmad.
Dr. Ahmad wrote "Rounded Up: Artificial Terrorists and Muslim Entrapment After 9/11." The Mosque he's in charge of was the one raided by the FBI during their investigation.
"From day one, we knew the hope of bringing them back here is almost nil," said Dr. Ahmad.
The book claims fear after 9/11 led investigators to the religious leader and pizza shop owner. Dr. Ahmad argues there were investigation issues writing about transcript problems for the time an FBI informant showed Hossain a shoulder-fired missile.
"The NYCLU has been very concerned about how our government has been using secret evidence, putting words in people's mouths," said NYCLU Capital Region President Dr. Stephen Gottlieb.
In the book, Dr. Ahmad writes, "The FBI has provided a transcript that contains only the first one-third of the discussion in this meeting. Perhaps their mission was completed when the camera recorded the picture of Malik [informant] holding the SAM on his shoulder, with Hossain looking at it. Very few will bother to investigate what actually went on during the rest of this meeting."
Ahmad is also critical of the use of this informant, the same man the FBI used to arrest four Newburgh men back in May, in a similar plot yet to go to trial.
Dr. Ahmad said, "We thought it will end with Bush-era, but it didn't."
The author also argues a language barrier put the men in an unfair light, writing: "In his testimony, Agent Coll said, 'On numerous times, he [Aref] said, "I understand you want to legalize your money..." But in the entire fifty hours of tape recordings, I found a discussion about legalizing money only once. [Aref] had the impression that Malik [informant] was claiming some kind of business tax credit by such transactions.'"
But the FBI has repeatedly stood by their case, noting the two men could have called authorities about what they knew anytime before their arrest, though they say they have yet to look at the book so they can't comment.
Both Hossain and Aref are serving 15 years in federal prison after appeals failed. The book's proceeds go to Aref's four children.