Tarik Shah, one of two men charged last weekend with conspiring to aid Al Qaeda, was ordered held without bond yesterday in Manhattan federal court, as one of his lawyers said the government had singled him out for being a Muslim.
Dr. Rafiq Sabir, a co-defendant, left a courtroom in Fort Pierce, Fla.
The other defendant, Dr. Rafiq Sabir, had not yet hired a lawyer when he appeared briefly yesterday in a court in Fort Pierce, Fla..
Mr. Shah, a jazz musician, and Dr. Sabir, a physician, have not entered pleas in the case. The two men, lifelong friends, stand accused of trying to provide support to Al Qaeda, and vowing to use their knowledge in martial arts and medicine to help international terrorism.
After the arraignment, Anthony Ricco, one of Mr. Shah’s two lawyers, said the arrest was typical of the government’s efforts to cast suspicion on Muslims in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“He wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t a Muslim,” Mr. Ricco told reporters outside the courthouse.
I expect that that’s true even if he is guilty. For if he is guilty, he wouldn’t have plotted to aid al-Qaeda if he hadn’t been a Muslim committed to jihad. So give Ricco credit: he has made at least one indubitably true statement.
“I’d characterize it as desperate prosecution on the part of the government,” he said. “If you look at the way in which our nation has been attacked, the response has been to arrest people like Tarik Shah, who but for a confidential informant and government involvement wouldn’t be here; he’d be playing the bass at a club somewhere.”
The men were arrested early Saturday in a sting operation conducted by the F.B.I. Mr. Shah, 42, was picked up in his Bronx apartment, and Dr. Sabir, 50, at his home in Boca Raton, Fla. Dr. Sabir is likely to be sent to New York for prosecution, after his next hearing, on Monday.
Prosecutors said the two men were recorded by a government informer swearing a formal loyalty oath to Al Qaeda. They were charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda.
“Shah committed himself to the path of holy war, to the oath of secrecy, and to abide by the directives of Al Qaeda,” according to the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors. “Shah indicated that he understood the oath, and agreed that he would obey the guardians of the oath, namely, Sheikh Osama bin Laden.” Dr. Sabir pledged the same oath, the complaint said.