They were emotionally exploited by anti-US propaganda, mostly based on photographs and videos of Iraq and Afghanistan showing US soldiers’ excesses against unarmed civilians and prisoners. Their reactionary statements were used as proofs of their “desire” to wage war against America and its people. They have been denied fair trials and were facing sentences worse than convicted murderers.
This was claimed by Mauri’ Saalakhan, a Washington DC-based human rights advocate, who serves as director of The Peace Thru Justice Foundation and has authored a number of books like Islam & Terrorism: Myth vs. Reality; Criminal Justice in America; September 11th: The Truth, Will It Ever Be Known?; and Iraq: The Question of American Values.
He was delivering a talk at the Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad here on Tuesday, on the topic of “Terrorism: American Policy and People”.
The event was chaired by IPS chairman, Professor Khurshid Ahmad and was attended by a large number of academics, journalists, activists and students.
Referring to the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, Saalakhan termed it as one of the worst miscarriages of justice in the history of US. Of special note about the trial, he said, was the fact that not one terrorism chargewas included in the criminal indictment against her. The federal Judge Richard Berman, who presided over her trial in New York, granted the prosecution practically everything it wanted—most significantly, a ban on any testimony that would shed light on the missing five years of her secret imprisonment, he added.
As a witness to the Aafia Siddiqui trial, Saalakhan was of the view that her short trial, which began in February 2010, featured blatant inconsistencies in the testimonies of the government’s star witnesses, and material evidence that clearly favored the defendant. Despite this, however, Aafia was found guilty on all seven counts of the indictment and was unjustly sentenced to 86 years of imprisonment, he deplored.
The government’s argument at sentencing revolved around Aafia’s alleged hatred toward and desire to kill Americans, a charge similar in all such “terrorism” related cases through which hundreds of innocent individuals have been targeted during more than last one decade, he noted.
Professor Khurshid Ahmad in his concluding remarks said that the US policymakers should realize that “terrorism” was not born on 9/11. The mass killing of thousands of innocent people in the WTC incident was a highly condemnable act however fighting terrorism with greater terrorism will only result in the spread and globalization of terrorism across the world. The consequences for such actions would be alarming including loss of lives, sabotaged nations and heavy economic costs, he added.
He said that the signature of the war on terror was only the use of violence to fulfill various political and economic objectives. He stressed upon adopting more realistic and pragmatic approaches to the situation by not only criticizing it but finding its root causes to seek political solutions to the political problems.