Predictable arguments — profiling, not knowing what was going on — didn’t work this time. An update on this story. ” U.S. conviction upheld in FBI sting of NY Muslims,” by Christine Kearney for Reuters, July 2:
NEW YORK (Reuters) – An Iraqi Kurdish imam and a Bangladeshi-American pizzeria owner on Wednesday lost an appeal of their convictions for plotting to kill a Pakistani diplomat in what turned out to be an FBI sting operation.
The U.S Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of Yassin Aref, 37, and Mohammed Hossain, 53, who were sentenced last year to 15 years each in prison for their roles in a fake plot to attack the Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations in New York with a missile.
Both appealed their convictions of money-laundering and conspiring to provide material support to the Pakistan-based Islamic militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
The federal appeals court rejected all the defense’s arguments, including that the men did not know missiles were involved.
“The evidence sufficed for a jury to conclude that Aref intended to aid in preparing a missile attack on American soil,” the ruling said, concluding the same for Hossain.
During the 2006 trial, the two were found to have laundered $50,000 from an FBI informant who said he worked for the militant group.
Aref, who came to the United States as a refugee, was the imam of an Albany mosque when he was arrested in August 2004. Hossain is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
In a separate ruling, the appeals court dismissed arguments from defense lawyers and the New York Civil Liberties Union that the lower court had improperly denied it access to classified information and sealed court papers and orders.
The NYCLU’s request for the wiretapping evidence followed a New York Times report citing the case as an example of the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program.
During the trial, Aref alleged Muslims were unfairly branded as terrorists in the United States. Defense lawyers argued the men were victims of post-September 11 racial profiling.