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Rashad Hussain, presently the Representative of the United States of America to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, was at the center of a controversy concerning remarks attributed to him defending Sami Al-Arian.[1]

Contents

Background

In 2004, Rashad Hussain, presently the Representative of the United States of America to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, with the rank and status of Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and Representative of the United States of America in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference was on a panel discussion on civil rights at a Muslim Students Association conference in Chicago. With him on this panel was Laila Al-Arian, the daughter of Sami Al-Arian, who on March 2, 2006, entered a guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to help the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a "specially designated terrorist" organization, [2] and was sentenced to 57 months in prison, and ordered deported following his prison term.[3] In November 2006 he was held in civil contempt for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury. He served 13 months in prison on that. In March 2008, the United States Department of Justice subpoenaed Al-Arian to testify before a grand jury. He refused to testify, and prosecutors charged him with criminal contempt in June 2008.[4][5] He remains under house arrest, as he awaits a trial on criminal contempt charges.[6][7]

Panel discussion

During this panel discussion, and following Laila Al-Arain's comments, Hussain made critical statements about the U.S. terror prosecution against professor Sami Al-Arian, as well as other Muslim terrorism suspects, as "politically motivated persecutions."[8]

The case that Laila just reminded us of is truly a sad commentary on our legal system. It is a travesty of justice, not just from the perspective of the allegations that are made against Dr. Al-Arian. Without passing any comment on those specific allegations or the statements [that] have been made against him, the process that has been used has been atrocious,” Hussain said, according to the recording.[9]

Originally Fox News reported that The White House attributed the "controversial remarks defending al-Arian" to Laila al-Arian.[10] Later, ABC News reported that the "controversy was all the more confusing because the remarks were reported in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in 2004, but the editor, Delinda Hanley, later removed the comments from the Web site, though she didn't recall why. The then-intern who reported Hussain's comments, Shereen Kandil, who currently also works for the Obama administration, stood by the remarks."[11] Hussain stated that, “When I saw the article that attributed comments to me without context, leaving a misimpression, I contacted the publication to raise concerns about it. Eventually, of their own accord, they modified the article.”[12] After Hussain's statement, the White House statated that it "is expressing its confidence in Hussain, despite his concession last week that he made ill-considered statements in 2004 about Bush-era terrorism prosecutions ."[13]

Controversy

In addition, The Politico reported that, "Adding to the controversy about Hussain’s comments on “political motivated persecutions” is that they were deleted from a report on the conference that first appeared in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a magazine on the region with articles from the Arab and Muslim perspectives. In the current version of the story on the Washington Report’s website, there is no reference to Hussain’s comments, or even that he appeared at the 2004 conference. But earlier, cached versions of the same story do include the comments — initially adding to the mystery of why they were taken out and at whose request. The discrepancy was first noted in a story last Sunday in the Web-based Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report."[14]. Also, "While the audio shows that Hussain did utter the phrase “politically motivated persecutions” in the midst of his discussion about Sami Al-Arian, another comment Kandil attributed to Hussain, describing Al-Arian as being “used politically to squash dissent,” is not audible in the recording POLITICO obtained, which cuts off before any question-and-answer period."[15]

Reaction

Criticism

Power Line[1], National Review Online[2], and FrontPage Magazine[3] all posted reviews of the subject.

Defense

Marc Lynch of Foreign Policy defended Hussain is his article The Smearing of Rashad Hussain.[4]

References

  1. ^ Bream, Shannon (February 16, 2010). "Obama's Islamic Envoy Quoted Defending Man Charged With Aiding Terrorists". Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/02/16/obamas-islamic-envoy-disputes-report-quoting-defending-terror-convict/. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Plea Agreement; U.S. v. Al-Arian". February 28, 2006. http://nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/FeaturedDocs/U.S._v_Al-Arian_pleaagr.pdf. Retrieved March 8, 2010. 
  3. ^ MegLaughlin, In his plea deal, what did Sami Al-Arian admit to?, St. Petersberg Times, April 23, 2006.
  4. ^ Al-Arian Gets Federal Subpoena, Elaine Silvestrini, March 4, 2008.
  5. ^ Elaine Silvestrini, Al-Arian Arraigned On Contempt Charges, Tampa Tribune, June 30, 2008.
  6. ^ Joseph Goldstein, Al-Arian Is Freed, but More Charges Await, New York Sun, September 3, 2008.
  7. ^ Judge sets trial for Sami Al-Arian on criminal contempt charge, Tampa Tribune, January 17, 2009.
  8. ^ Gerstein, Josh (February 19, 2010). "Islam envoy retreats on terror talk". The Politico. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/33210.html. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  9. ^ Gerstein, Josh (February 19, 2010). "Islam envoy retreats on terror talk". The Politico. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/33210.html. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  10. ^ Bream, Shannon (February 16, 2010). "Obama's Islamic Envoy Quoted Defending Man Charged With Aiding Terrorists". Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/02/16/obamas-islamic-envoy-disputes-report-quoting-defending-terror-convict/. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  11. ^ Tapper, Jake (March 6, 2010). "President's Envoy to Islamic Conference Admits Having Made Controversial '04 Remarks". ABC News. http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2010/02/presidents-envoy-to-islamic-conference-admits-having-made-controversial-04-remarks.html. Retrieved February 19, 2010. 
  12. ^ Tapper, Jake (March 6, 2010). "President's Envoy to Islamic Conference Admits Having Made Controversial '04 Remarks". ABC News. http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2010/02/presidents-envoy-to-islamic-conference-admits-having-made-controversial-04-remarks.html. Retrieved February 19, 2010. 
  13. ^ Gerstein, Josh (February 22, 2010). "W.H. affirms confidence in Islam envoy". The Politico. http://www.politico.com/blogs/joshgerstein/0210/WH_affirms_confidence_in_Islam_envoy_Hussain.html. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  14. ^ Gerstein, Josh (February 19, 2010). "Islam envoy retreats on terror talk". The Politico. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/33210.html. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  15. ^ Gerstein, Josh (February 19, 2010). "Islam envoy retreats on terror talk". The Politico. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/33210.html. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 







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