Albany, NY – The Muslim Solidarity Committee marked the fifth anniversary of the arrests of two Albany Muslims, Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, with a Tuesday evening rally and march in Albany. Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was there and files this report.
Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain were sentenced to 15 years in prison, resulting from an FBI sting operation involving money-laundering from the sale of a fake shoulder-fired missle. The Albany rally began just before 6pm at the Washington Avenue Armory ... Supporters then marched to Masjid As-Salam mosque on Central Avenue.
In the Albany case, it took an informant 5 months to talk Mohammed Hossain into accepting a loan, in the case of the Fort Dix 5, an electronics store clerk in South Jersey gave police a copy of a customer's videotape that showed the men firing rifles and shouting Islamic battle cries. FBI agents and two paid cooperators then spent eighteen months persuading the men to do something that would enable the agency to arrest them.
Ferik Duka, the father of Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka, three of the members of the convicted Fort Dix Five, notes that it only took a few phone calls from the families of two journalists imprisoned in North Korea to earn their release... he claims repeated phone calls to Washington on behalf of incarcerated Muslims are never returned.
Duka insists his sons were entrapped: he himself has been fighting to stay in the United States. He argues that while he came into the country illegally, he and his family have tried to become naturalized citizens for years. Duka's 11-year old granddaughter Lejla made the journey to march in Albany - she was also a featured speaker at the rally. Appeals for the Aref and Hossain cases were dismissed in 2008 but attorneys remain optimistic.