NEW YORK, (Reuters) - An American student who became the first person extradited to the United States from Britain on terrorism charges is being subjected to inhumane prison conditions, his lawyer argued on Tuesday. Syed Hashmi, 28, arrested in June 2006 at London's Heathrow airport and extradited to New York, is being held in solitary confinement, including a 23-hour-a-day lock-down in his cell (similar to SuperMax conditions).
He is awaiting trial after pleading not guilty to supporting al Qaeda ( Hashmi was a member of the Queens NY group "The Islamic Thinkers Society") by holding items such as ponchos, raincoats and waterproof socks in his London apartment for use by al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.
"Syed Hashmi aided the enemy by providing military gear to al-Qaida," said Mark Mershon, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI's New York office. Syed Hashmi was a member of the "Network" click here for CBS news story. One law enforcement official said the arrest of Mr. Hashmi reinforced investigators' belief that New York was a link in a web of worldwide terrorist activity.
Mr. Hashmi had an address in Flushing, Queens, until 2003, the official said. The official said Mr. Hashmi was a member of Al Muhajiroun, or the Emigrants, a London-based group, that praised the 9/11 attacks and was active in New York, as the Islamic Thinkers Society.
Hashmi, also known as Fahad, faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted. In a letter dated Tuesday 10/21/08, his lawyer asked U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey not to renew restrictions that include limited family visits and a ban on listening to broadcast news programs. The conditions are due to lapse next week. "We are very concerned about the effects that complete isolation has on a person. This is sensory deprivation over an extended period of time (torture)," Hashmi's lawyer Sean Maher said in a telephone interview.
"Tortured", a common defense of all al-Qaeda captives right out of the al-Qaeda play book, click to see here, please note; 1) . "At the beginning of the trial, once more the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by State Security [investigators ]before the judge". 2). Complain [to the court] of mistreatment while in prison.................
The letter was supported by two U.S. legal advocacy organizations (would one be the "National Lawyers Guild" of which Sean Maher is a member ?) that also wrote to Mukasey. While it is not unusual for terrorism suspects in the United States to be held under such conditions, Maher said Hashmi's case was less serious. "The allegation is he let someone stay in his apartment and that person had a suitcase with raincoats and ponchos. He is not alleged to be a member of al Qaeda," Maher said. "We are talking about socks here."
From The Times, June 8, 2006.....An American who held a British student visa has been remanded in custody on terror charges after being arrested at Heathrow. Syed Hashmi, 26, is wanted by the FBI on a charge of supplying military equipment (a law enforcement official said it included night-vision goggles) and currency to al-Qaeda fighters in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He was arrested on Tuesday night carrying a large amount of cash as he tried to board a plane to Pakistan. Dressed in white Muslim robes, he appeared at a brief extradition hearing at Bow Street Magistrates’ Court in London. He was indicted on May 24 by a New York grand jury on charges of aiding al-Qaeda between January 1 and March 1, 2004....(NOT JUST SOCKS).
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan had no comment. Prosecutors say the case against Hashmi is "extremely serious" and that he had been a member of Al-Muhajiroun, a defunct group (still active under different name).
Al Muhajiroun was officially disbanded by Omar Bakri Mohammed in October 2004 (this was ploy for the media). Using a tactic employed by HT, he continued to guide his followers who then belonged to new groups, operating under new names. In the UK, Al Muhajiroun members operated in groups called Al Ghurabaa, the Saviour Sect, (which changed its name to the Saved Sect) and these also founded a group called Ahlus Sunna Wal Jammah. Members of Queens NY, US Al Muhajiroun group reformed as the Islamic Thinkers Society.
They say Hashmi held the gear on behalf of his former friend turned government informant Mohammed Junaid Babar, knowing Babar was passing it and money on to senior al Qaeda commander Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, who is now held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
WHO IS SYED "FAHAD" HASHMI & AL-MUHAJIROUN.
Syed Fahad Hashmi, a 29-year-old US citizen and former student at Brooklyn College NYC , is in solitary at the Federal Pen NYC on charges of providing material support to Al Qaida. Fahad Hashmi was a member of the Islamic Thinkers Society (ITS) in Queens NY led by "Nussrah", see the ITS website Click Here, were they seek to "Free Fahad". The Islamic Thinkers Society (ITS) in Queens NY links to several arrested and convicted members of Al-Qaeda, such as Fahad Hashmi arrested, Mohammed Junaid Babar arrested convcited and Shahawar Matin Siraj who was arrested and convicted for plot to blow up a busy Manhattan subway station as revenge for wartime abuses of Iraqis. "Nussrah" the leader of the ITS in Queens NY has left numeous threatening messages on this blog and seeks to silence the blog of "Private Investigator Bill Warner".
Hashmi grew up in a Pakistani-American family living in Queens, New York City. He majored in political science at Brooklyn College, graduating in 2003. He then studied international relations at London Metropolitan University, earning a Masters Degree in 2005. The evidence against Hashmi is based on the plea bargain of Mohammed Junaid Babar, another US citizen from Queens NY arrested on five counts of aiding Al Qaida and a member of al-Muhajiroun.
Mohammed Junaid Babar and Syed Fahad Hashmi were members of the terrorist organization Al-Muhajiroun in Queens NY, Hashmi was a senior figure in Al Muhajiroun's US network. Investigations by private detective Bill Warner have been crucial in piecing together the links between the British membership of Al Muhajiroun with their counterparts in New York, and their combined links with terrorism. The Operation Crevice terrorism trial in the UK, which concluded in London on April 07 had heard testimony from former Al Muhajiroun member turned supergrass Mohamed Junaid Babar.
In 2005, Bill Warner took BBC journalist Richard Watson to the Masjid al-Fatima on 37th Avenue, Woodside, Queens NY, which had been taken over by radicals from Hizb ut-Tahrir in the mid 1990s. BBC's Richard Watson video-taped Bill Warner's interview with Mosque Founder Aqeel Khan, who spoke of the problems of radicals at the mosque.
SEE BBC News video with all the current updates click here.
Mr Warner's sleuthing managed to show that Junaid Babar, who was an Al Muhajiroun member from Queens, had attended the Woodside mosque, and here in 1999 had first met Sajil Shahid. Shahid had founded the Al Muhajiroun office in Lahore in Pakistan, which became a center for ferrying British jihadists (including the five men convicted of the Operation Crevice plot, and also Mohammed Sidique Khan, leader of London's 7/7 bombers) from Lahore to the regions bordering with Afghanistan, where they met Taliban and Al Qaeda controllers.
Bill Warner's investigations also showed that a meeting took place at the Masjid al-Fatima mosque in Queens NY from June 2 to 4, 2000, with lectures given by Sajil Shahid. This three day convention was also attended by an individual called "Brother Fahad", who is Syed "Fahad" Hashmi.
Babar, the main informant, is cooperating with prosecutors after pleading guilty in New York in 2004 to smuggling money, night vision goggles and sleeping bags to al Qaeda (and being a member of Al-Qaeda). Babar also testified as an informant against five Britons convicted in London in April of plotting bomb attacks on targets such as nightclubs and trains.
Several parts of his court proceedings have been closed to the public and reporters after U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ruled some of the evidence in the case was classified.