(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/29/2009) – A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today questioned the constitutionality of what it termed a “cruel trick” played by the FBI on the family of a terrorism suspect arrested earlier this week in North Carolina.
Family members told the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) that the FBI allegedly sent an informant in the case to the family’s home falsely claiming that the father and three sons had been injured in a car accident and then had a fake “doctor” arrest the wife at the hospital.
As reported by the Raleigh News & Observer:
“[The wife of the suspect] described a harrowing experience Monday afternoon when she answered the door to find a man she thought was a family friend wearing a shirt that appeared to be bloodied. He told her that Daniel and their three sons, Dylan, Noah and Zakariya, were in a serious car crash. He asked her to get into a Highway Patrol cruiser that would take her to Duke Hospital, where they were being treated.
“Boyd summoned her daughter and pregnant daughter-in-law. They wrapped their heads in scarves, grabbed their Qurans and flew out the door. For [the wife], it was a particularly painful experience. Her 16-year-old son, Luqman, died in a car crash near their home in 2007.
“When they arrived at Duke Hospital, the cruiser took them to a construction site at the rear of the facility. A man dressed as a doctor came out and asked whether she was the wife. When she said yes, he extended his hand. She told him she does not shake men’s hands. He then grabbed her wrist and handcuffed her.
“’I’m not a doctor. I’m an agent and your family is not in the hospital,’ he told her. ‘You’re being detained, and you need to cooperate with us.’
“[The wife] estimates she was then surrounded by 30 agents who frisked her and asked whether she had weapons or weapons of mass destruction.”
SEE: Wife of N.C. Terrorism Suspect Describes Elaborate Police Ruse (News & Observer)
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote in part:
“As a matter or principle, American Muslims repudiate terrorism in all its forms and support our nation’s safety and security.
“Whether the suspects in this case are guilty or innocent – and everyone has the right to the presumption of innocence – the cruel trick reportedly used by the FBI in the detention and questioning of the family members shocks the conscience of anyone who values constitutional rights and due process of law.
“By falsely claiming that the father and sons had been injured in a car crash and thereby inducing the wife and other family members to get into a police vehicle, law enforcement authorities were in effect depriving those detained of their rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, which guarantee that an individual is not deprived of liberty without due process of law, is secure in their home and free from both unreasonable search and seizure and self-incrimination.
“I respectfully request that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate this incident to determine when and if the family members were informed of their constitutional rights, whether there was an arrest warrant for the female family members or a search warrant for the family home and whether the cruel trick used to detain and question the family members is in fact permissible conduct for federal or state law enforcement authorities. The entire episode could have been avoided by having properly-identified law enforcement authorities seek to interview the family members in their home, after informing them of their constitutional rights.
“As you know, the protections of the Fifth Amendment grow out of the historical use of coercion and torture to extract confessions. I believe any reasonable person would conclude that the tactic allegedly used in this case amounts to psychological torture, particularly given the fact that one of the family’s sons was killed in a car accident two years earlier.
“An unfortunate byproduct of such incidents is a decrease in the Muslim community’s trust of legitimate law enforcement conduct. In another case recently reported to CAIR, law enforcement authorities in Virginia allegedly falsely claimed to be firefighters evacuating an apartment building in order to draw a Muslim from his home to facilitate his arrest.
“In June, you committed to ‘using criminal and civil rights laws to protect Muslim Americans.’
[SEE: Statement of Attorney General Eric Holder on Department of Justice’s Outreach and Enforcement Efforts to Protect American Muslims]
“I respectfully ask that you demonstrate that commitment by investigating this disturbing incident and taking appropriate action based on the results of that investigation. No American should be subjected to such apparently unconstitutional law enforcement tactics, no matter what charges their family members face.”
In March, a coalition of major national Muslim organizations announced that it is considering suspending outreach relations with the FBI, citing incidents in which American mosques and Muslim groups have been targeted. The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT) also called on the FBI to reassess the use of informants as agent provocateurs within the Muslim community.
SEE: U.S. Muslim Coalition Considers Suspending Relations with FBI
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787 or 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com