OF THOUGHT CRIMES AND TERRORISM
MUSLIM TEENAGERS: PARAGONS OF RATIONALITY?
Take the case of 19 year old Asher Abid Khan, a U. S. citizen who has been charged by the FBI with “conspiracy and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State.” He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the crimes he is charged with.
But what exactly are Asher’s crimes? He’s never set foot in Syria or Iraq. Never fired a weapon at anyone. Was never filmed beheading anyone. He did, however, spend some hours in Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport contemplating whether or not he should travel to Syria and join ISIS but after a several hours sitting in a departure lounge, decided to return home to his family. What Asher Khan is accused of, thanks to that monstrosity of Soviet Style Law, the American Patriot Act, are “thought crimes.”
Yes, Khan did research ISIS on his computer, did post Facebook messages that were marginally supportive of Middle East extremists, (“I wanna die as a Shaheed” the Arabic word for martyr and “looking forward to dying in Allah’s cause and meeting Allah”), did plan with a friend to go to Syria, (it was why he wound up in Istanbul), but none of this came to the attention of the FBI until 15 months after his return to the U.S. He was arrested last May. His family sent him a text message while sitting in the airport that his mother had been hospitalized (a lie, which Khan has stated he knew at the time) as the reason for giving up on his religious crusade. Why did he not take action during time between his return and his arrest? Maybe he just changed his mind.
What brought Asher to the attention of the FBI? It wasn't his trip to Turkey as you might expect. “There were indications – worrying although not conclusive – that Khan had not shed his radical views after returning to the United States” according to a U.S. Attorney. The evidence? A remark to a friend that he “should keep an open mind about the Islamic State” and an e-mail from one of a Mosque’s religious leaders where Khan was teaching seventh-grade Islamist studies as follows: “I was told that he has some ideological beliefs or sympathies towards certain groups that are unhealthy.” Really? Perhaps there are more “indications” that aren’t included in the Post article. Let’s hope so anyway.
All right so let’s recap. Young 17 year old U. S. citizen, Pakistani-American, gets interested in all the 24-7 news about ISIS, does some research, decides that their program seems reasonable, decides to join them, flies to Istanbul, changes his mind, returns home to Texas. Fifteen months later is arrested by the FBI for saying a couple of things (unproven by factual information) that might indicate his continued support of ISIS. This is the sum total of the United States of America’s case against Asher Abid Khan. No purchase of AK-47’s or Plastique and ball bearings to build a bomb. No recruiting of others to the ISIS cause. In essence, Asher Abid Khan, an American citizen despite his Muslim name, has been charged with “materially supporting ISIS” based not on his actions but on his thoughts. His “thoughts.” Under any local, state of Federal statute with the exception of the Patriot Act, Khan could not be charged with anything since he’s actually committed no material crime except thinking. Does this sound like George Orwell’s “1984” or Tom Cruise’s “Minority Report” to anyone else but me?
The FBI’s justification for his arrest? “Think of these charges as insurance,” a senior U.S. law enforcement official is quoted as saying. Insurance? Ummm, I think the more appropriate term would be “Ensure” as in ‘these kinds of arrests (there have been 60 over the past year) for thought crimes will ensure that we will continue to lose the struggle to win the hearts and minds of young people around the world who might be confused; might be alienated (as if that’s a novel condition for teenagers worldwide); might be confused; might not know all the facts; might be persuaded by slick propaganda videos with high productions values. (I’m referring to ISIS here and not the Koch Brothers’ funded Super PACs “Americans For Prosperity” and “The Club For Growth”)
As any parent knows, the teenage years can be brutal. If you have children under the age of 13 you don’t know, yet, what’s in store for you. But trust me, you will. It’s as inevitable as the sun rising tomorrow morning whether or not we are alive to see it. Luckily, we had only one year of unmitigated hell with my daughter. (Girls, I hear, are much easier to navigate through the “hell years” than the boy variety of teenager.) Now while you’re going through the irrational, irresponsible, unbelievably stupid battle for sanity, doing things you never thought possible to stem the horrible tide of abject dumbness that seems to have infected your once obedient and lovable child like the Ebola virus, it seems like it will never end. But it does. And typically, it ends pretty well. My own daughter is getting married this month (finally!) and I’m hopeful that a grandchild or two (finally!) might result in due course.
Now I’m not sure what the solutions are or solution is to the attractiveness of the ISIS propaganda to the male (occasionally female) mind might be. But if the response to this irrationality or temporary insanity, if you will, is thirty years in prison for these thought crimes, I’m thinking that we are going to “Insure” that when these folks get out of prison they are not going to be less angry at the United States and will probably come out with a first rate education in crime with all its attendant tools of the game that pretty much “Ensures” that we are actually perpetuating the problem of young minds going off track rather than solving it.
In the case of Asher Abid Khan, he decided against joining ISIS. And he has been charged with crimes under the Patriot Act. In denying Khan's bail at a detention hearing in Houston, Assistant U. S. Attorney Carolyn Ferko stated: "There are no conditions the government foresees that would enable the safety of the homeland" as if Khan were some mass murderer or had been videotaped raping and killing woman. The "safety of the homeland" rests on the incarceration of a teenager? Is this a stellar example of American justice we stand for or what? It's "or what" as in "what the hell are we doing?"
The American Patriot Act: Making Crimes Out Of Thoughts Every Day!
Just gotta love it, right?
The full Washington Post article is here: