Casualties in the so-called "war on terrorism"
- USA: Pakistani working in USA has visa revoked for no reason
- Canada: Government settles out of court for false accusation of terrorist links
- Spain: Migrants sue over wrongful arrests
- UK: Algerian pilot suing US government
- CIA: UK citizen held for four weeks in Gambia
USA: Pakistani working in USA has visa revoked for no reason
As a well travelled Pakistani national living in the United States, Shahid Yousaf, thought he knew all about the post-September 11 immigration controls. But at Miami airport on 3 August 2002, after a week working in Venezuela, his whole life was turned upside down. Shahid's fingerprints were taken and he was detained for two hours. He was then told his visa had been revoked, that he could not enter the US and that he would be returned to Venezuela. Mr. Yousaf instead travelled to London, a concession secured only by paying for the airline ticket.
In 1993, Shahid completed a Mechanical Engineering degree at University of Engineering and Technology Lahore, Pakistan and went to University of New South Wales Sydney, Australia, where he obtained a Masters in industrial engineering. In 1997, he started working for Kuwait SantaFe in Kuwait (then part of SantaFe International, a multinational drilling contractor in the oil business). After three months work in Kuwait he was seconded to Dallas, Texas for a maintenance system implementation project and then worked regularly in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Azerbaijan. During his time off, Mr. Yousaf initially travelled back and forth to Kuwait, later moving to Sydney.
In September 2001, SantaFe International merged with Global Marine and in December Shahid was offered a job as Senior Field Support Specialist at the now Global SantaFe IT department in Houston and was asked to move there. He accepted the offer and the company arranged his visa. Eight months into his new job he was banned from the US without explanation.
After being expelled from the US, Mr. Yousaf did some support work in Aberdeen while the company lawyers sought an explanation for the decision to revoke his visa. In September 2002 Shahid went to work in Perth. All the SantaFe lawyers have been able to find out is that the INS department at Maimi airport had placed a five year ban on his entry to the US, despite the fact that he was travelling on a valid visa. A Freedom of Information application to the State Department has been made though no explanation has yet been received.
In March 2003 Global SantaFe told Shahid that because the legal process was taking so long he was to be made redundant. He has moved back to Sydney and is still waiting for a Decision on a new visa application lodged at the US consulate in Perth.
Source: Statewatch, 6.10.03
Canada: Government pay out of court settlement to falsely accused "terrorist" suspect
On 7 November 2001 Mr Liban Hussein, a Somalian-born Canadian citizen, who ran a money transfer business (hawala) in Dorchester, Massachusetts, to help Somalians send money home to a country where there are few banks , put put on a list of 62 people by the USA who allegedly supported terrorism. On the same day the UN Security Council and the Canadian government, adopted the same list. His bank accounts were frozen, his business in Dorchester shut down and his brother was arrested and charged with operating a business without a licence. Liban Hussein was however in Ottawa and the US government asked the Canadian government to extradite him.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested Mr Hussein but a court released him on bail as neither government produced any evidence of terrorist links. But not only were his funds frozen, it became a crime for anyone to have any financial dealings with him. On top of this the Canadian government announced that they intended to extradite him. Throughout Mr Hussein denied all the accusations.
From November 2001 all Mr Hussein's dealings were frozen until mid-June 2002, seven months later, when the Canadian Justice Department announced - having reviewed the US material which showed "no evidence he was connected with terrorist activities" - that extradition charges were to be dropped. His name was taken off the Canadian list, and later the US and UN lists. The government paid an undisclosed out of court settlement.
His brother was convicted in the USA and jailed for 18 months for running a money-transfer business without a licence (which is not a crime in Canada) - at the trial the US state made no allegations of terrorist activities.
Randal Marlin, past-president of the capital's Civil Liberties Association said:
"I hope the public now understands that the government destroyed this man's life without a single shred of evidence, that he had absolutely nothing to do this terrorism"
Source: CanWest Interactive: http://www.canada.com/ottawa/news/story.asp?id=A78521BF-B285-474C-AE87-F4B46D514657, Thursday, October 2, 2003.
Spain: Migrants wrongly arrested and branded as "terrorists" sue Spanish PM
Sixteen Algerian and Morrocan immigrants resident in Spain were arrested and held in north-east Spain in January 2003. Mr Asnar, the Spanish Prime Minister, announced that "an important network of terrorists connected to al-Qaida" armed with "explosive, chemical and electronic material" had been captured. On 5 February US Secretary of State Powell told the UN Security Council that a "Spanish cell" had been caught.
The material seized from the mens' homes included cologne, olive oil, honey, household ammonia and washing powder plus mobile phones, alarms clocks and television remote controls. Police also seized a child's toy pistol which was presented at a press conference and appeared in pictures in the media (though it was never referred to in court). "Even other Muslims, when they saw the pistol, said they believed we must have been terrorists", said Mr Nabbar, 38, a legal immigrant who had been living in Spain for eight years.
Mr Aznar told a press conference that: "they were preparing to carry out attacks with explosives and chemicals" and the arrests highlighted "the danger of terrorist groups getting hold of weapons of mass destruction".
Despite the media hype the case against them was provisionally shelved and they were released.
In September their lawyer applied for compensation and launched a slander action against Mr Aznar.
The national court then said it was re-opening the case against them after receiving "a report from a US laboratory which confirms the substances found, when combine with other elements, could produce deflagration".
Source: Guardian, 13.9.03: Immigrants sue Spanish PM for claiming terror group link
UK: Algerian pilot sues US over terrorist charges
Lofti Raissi, an Algerian and a pilot, was arrested and held in Belmarsh prison for five months on the basis of allegations by the US government that he had personally trained four of the 11 September hijackers, that they had audio and video evidence connecting him with them and that he faced charges of conspiracy to murder which carries the death penalty.
A UK judge refused to extradite him to the USA because there was no evidence against him which included video footage of Mr Raissi with his cousin not one of the hijackers. The US government continued, unsuccessfully, to try and extradite him on the grounds that he lied on a form about his pilot's licence by failing to declare an old tennis injury.
Mr Raissi no longer works as a pilot as no airline will employ him and he says he has been made a scapegoat because he is a Muslim and a pilot. Speaking from Algeria he said: "We want justice and we want an apology to make sure that something like this will never happen again".
His lawyers have now filed a suit to sue the FBI and the US Department of Justice for $20 million. He is claiming false imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution, malicious continuation of prosecution, abuse of process, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence in infliction of emotional distress. His lawyer said cases were also being prepared against the UK Crown Prosecution Service and the police.
Guardian, 16.9.03: Algerian pilot sues US over terror charges
Statewatch: Two "terrorist" suspects, held for months in prison, freed by the court for lack of evidence
USA-Gambia: UK terrorist suspect threatened with torture by CIA
A UK business man, Wahab al-Rawi, was held incommunicado for four weeks in Gambia and interrogated by CIA agents before being released without charge. He says: CIA agents threatened him with torture if he did not cooperate, was subjected to sleep deprivation with lights permanently on in his cell, and intelligence provided by British intelligence was used by the CIA agents in cross-examining him.
Guardian, 4.10.03: Briton held as terror suspect says CIA threatened torture
Casualty of the truth
On 21 March 2003 in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq is was reported across the globe that lethal ricin had been found on the French metro in Paris, and this example is still being cited to legitimate the "war on terrorism": Terror fear after ricin found in Paris, 21 March 2003. This is despite the fact that the very following day, 22 March 2003, the French Interior Minister said it was not lethal and that the minute traces were connection to arrests that had already taken place: Ricin in Paris metro 22 March 2003.
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