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Not a Terrorist

In response to:

Are We Safer? from the March 9, 2006 issue

To the Editors:

In his excellent article on the domestic “war on terror” [NYR, March 9], David Cole discusses the case of Lynne Stewart, the lawyer who may be imprisoned for life for releasing to the press a statement by her client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, when Rahman was forbidden to communicate with the outside world. But Cole only mentions in passing Stewart’s “codefendants.” One of them is Mohammed Yousry, an American citizen of Egyptian origin, who works as a commercial translator while he pursues a Ph.D. in history at NYU. Yousry is not a practicing Muslim and is married to an evangelical Christian; their daughter graduated from a Baptist college. He was hired by Rahman’s lawyers (Stewart and Ramsey Clark) to translate documents for the defense, which he thought might be interesting material for a dissertation. He has, as even the prosecution admitted, absolutely no ties to, or sympathy with, any fundamentalist or terrorist organizations. The FBI impounded his computer and notebooks and taped thousands of hours of his phone conversations over three years, producing nothing that was introduced as evidence at his trial. His only “crime” was translating Rahman’s statement, as he was asked to do; he took no part in its release to the press. Yousry has been convicted of providing “material support for terrorism,” and now faces twenty years in prison.

Eliot Weinberger

New York City

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