ngry and saddened, members of a Muslim community in New
York state’s capital have been staying away from their mosque for fear of
being labeled terrorists as they await a bail hearing on Tuesday for two
men accused of supporting terrorism.
The hearing is the second proceeding against the pair associated with an
Albany mosque and arrested in an FBI sting operation. It was granted by
U.S. Magistrate David Homer after a possible translation error turned up in
key evidence against them.
Yassin Aref, 34, and Mohammed Hossain, 49, were first ordered held without
bail on Aug. 10 when they pleaded not guilty to charges of money
laundering, supporting a terrorist organization and conspiracy.
At the time, U.S. authorities said the evidence included an address book
found in what they called a terrorist training camp in northern Iraq that
referred to Aref as “the commander” in Arabic. The Justice Department says
FBI translators now read the word as “brother” in Kurdish.
In the wake of the translation controversy, other Muslims in Albany call
the case a tragic misunderstanding. About 7,000 Muslims live in Albany and
“I’m upset. It’s racial profiling,” said Abdul Malik, who worships at the
small Albany mosque where Aref serves as spiritual leader. “They are honest
men, good family men.”
Faisal Ahmad, a teacher at the mosque, said attendance has been dwindling
with many in fear of being labeled terrorists.
“The saddest thing about this is it will further the whole misunderstanding
about Islam,” said Ahmad. “Muslims are not terrorist people. Muslims are
not violent people.