Rotting in Prison for Hosting the Wrong House Guest? The War on Terror's Insane Abuses Continue
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Hashmi’s journey from student to imprisoned accused terrorist began in Brooklyn College, where he was an outspoken student activist and devout Muslim. Hashmi was a member of Al-Muhajiroun, a Salafi Islamist group banned in Britain for its links to terrorism. The group has not been deemed a terrorist group in the U.S. and has not been linked to attacks. But the prosecution brought up his membership and political beliefs to bolster their case against him.
Hashmi attended graduate school in England, where he was arrested in 2006 when he tried to board a plane to his native country, Pakistan. In 2007, he became the first person extradited from Britain to the U.S. under loosened guidelines designed to make it easier for American authorities to prosecute terrorism suspects who were on British soil.
The case against him centered on the words of one man named Mohammed Junaid Babar, who stayed with Hashmi in his London apartment in 2004. Babar, who was arrested that same year on charges of material support for terrorism, turned into a cooperating witness for the government and testified against Hashmi. An acquaintance of his from New York, Babar carried with him to London raincoats, ponchos and waterproof socks which he later delivered to an Al Qaeda member. Hashmi also allegedly allowed Babar to use his cellphone to call those involved with terror plots. For this, Hashmi remains locked away, while Babar has since been freed because of his cooperation with the U.S.
When Hashmi came to the U.S., he was whisked away to the MCC, just 13 miles from the Flushing, Queens neighborhood where he grew up. Hashmi was put under solitary confinement and Special Administrative Measures, which limited his face-to-face contact to only his lawyer and his parents. Hashmi was monitored electronically during his every waking breath, including when he went to the bathroom. He could not speak with fellow inmates. And the few people he was allowed to meet with were barred from speaking about their conversations under the SAMs.
Hashmi’s lawyers tried in vain to get the repressive conditions he was living under lifted. They argued that solitary confinement does lasting psychological damage to inmates. The use of solitary confinement has also been condemned as tantamount to torture by the United Nations. But those arguments did not sway the U.S. Department of Justice. And even after he plead guilty, he remains in solitary confinement in Colorado.
“Seeing my brother is a dehumanizing experience,” Faisal Hashmi, who last saw his brother a year and half ago, told AlterNet. When he visits in Colorado, his brother is “behind glass in a small room. So I haven’t touched my brother in eight years.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents Hashmi, is keeping up the fight for their client. The organization is trying to move Hashmi out of solitary confinement.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Correctional Center continues to hold terrorism suspects in solitary confinement. Mahdi Hashi, a British citizen of Somali descent, has been held under solitary confinement on dubious terrorism charges in the MCC for several months. Subjected to SAMs that restrict who he can speak to, Hashi has been on hunger strike for weeks.