(Anaheim, CA) – The Council on American Islamic Relations – Southern California (CAIR-LA) and the Airman Halabi Justice Committee (AHJC) expressed relief at today’s announcement that all espionage charges were dropped against Airman al-Halabi in a plea deal reached between government prosecutors and Halabi’s attorneys ending what many viewed as a year-long ordeal of the Muslim, Syrian-born Arabic translator.
Judge Barbara Brand accepted a plea deal between Senior Airman Ahmad al-Halabi and Air Force prosecutors in which the Airman pleaded guilty to minor offenses in a case that originally started out with 30 charges. The judge also critized prosecutors for misconduct in the case.
[SEE: U.S. Drops Charge Against Accused Spy http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&e=5&u=/ap/20040922/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/guantanamo_interpreter]
Military officials had alleged that a spy ring involving Muslim servicemen was conspiring to undermine national security at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but no evidence has ever been shown to prove such an allegation. Additionally, the spy case against al-Halabi’s former supervisor – Muslim chaplain James Yee – also fell apart earlier this year when the Army failed to make a case against him and all charges were subsequently dropped.
Charges for mishandling classified documents were also dropped at the end of August against Army Reserve Colonel Jackie Duane Farr, a non-Muslim, who received non-judicial punishment instead.
“Praises to God. This is good news. We always knew that Ahmad had nothing to do with these spy charges,” said Ahmad’s brother-in-law, Nazeir Labanieh, when notified of the plea agreement.
“From the very beginning, we knew that the military was carrying out a witch-hunt against Muslim servicemen, suspecting their loyalties, and unfairly treating them like criminals. We are thankful to God and are very relieved for this wonderful outcome,” said Shereen Sabet, spokeswoman for the Airman Halabi Justice Committee (AHJC).
“This pattern of unfairly targeting patriotic American Muslims and these cases being eventually dropped or dismissed is disturbing. This is another victory for our judicial system and a point of disgrace for our current administration. The time has come to investigate whether this trend represents an overzealous, incompetent, or just a normalized anti-Muslim attitude within our government,” said Sabiha Khan, CAIR-LA communications director.
The AHJC has been committed to publicizing the case and the perceived injustices against al-Halabi to the general public, and has raised over $50,000 from community supporters in Southern California and Michigan through the CAIR Civil Rights Fund to pay for Ahmad’s legal defense.