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Tarek Mehanna: What its like

 
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Tarek Mehanna: What its like
Kirjoittaja Viesti
lamppu erämaassa



Liittynyt: 14 Tou 2006
Viestejä: 61

Lähetä Tarek Mehanna: What its like Vastaa lainaamalla viestiä
. it is 6 P.M. when I arrive. I am booked, shackled up, and led all the way to the other end of the prison with two guards escorting me on either side. I was arrested this morning right as the night-long calls from court that enforce my curfew had stopped. So, I haven't properly slept in over 24 hrs. and I am not in the best of moods. I am even less so when I see that I'm taken straight into isolation, but the main thing on my mind is just to get some sleep. Pray 'Isha' and sleep.



I am led into a dimly lit double-tiered hall, with roughly ten cells lining each floor. There is an odd, complete silence that contrasts greatly with the noise I just left behind. My first cell in this place is #110, a cute little suite left urine-stenched courtesy of its former tenant who decided he was too good to use the toilet. The guards shrug as they unshackle my arms & legs and tell me I'll probably be moved to a different cell shortly once he's back from his psychiatric evaluation. I ask which way east is, make wudu', pray, and lay down for the first uninterrupted sleep I've had in nearly a year.



As I fall asleep, I wonder how the guys I met last year in population are doing . . .



. . . I first was held here in November 2008. Before I continue, let me explain the brief history: I graduated from college in May of '08, and subsequently obtained my dream job - I was hired as a clinical pharmacist to establish the first diabetes clinic at the King Fahd Medical City Hospital in Saudi Arabia. The FBI took note and decided this to be the appropriate time to give me an ultimatum: 'work for us or we'll arrest you.' I decided to continue with my original plans, and was about to board my Nov. flight to Riyadh when i was arrested. That is when I first came here, where I spent 42 days awaiting a federal judge to decide on my release. I was released to the custody of my parents (this is why I was at home for the past year), was placed under a court-ordered curfew enforced through automated phone calls that went on until 6 A.M. nightly, my passport was confiscated, I was confined to the state, and was unable to find work in my field due to the federal charge now on my record - all in addition to the $1.2 million ransom (bail) demanded by the government which included my family's home and life savings. This went on for nearly a year until the government decided to rearrest me and pile on more charges, with the eight-year sentence I was facing under Bush now bumped up to one of life-plus-sixty under Obama. Apparently, this was the "change we can believe in" that was being referred to!



So, that first time I was here in November '08, I was brought in to a dormitory - style unit that resemble a summer camp. It was an open space where inmates walk freely between the rows of bunk beds, as opposed to being hunkered down in cells. This is called 'orientation,' and population inmates spend three days here before being classified to their respective units. I'd never been to prison before, and had no idea what to expect walking into this unit. But, my instinct told me that i had to put up my flag, now or never. The one thing I did know about prison was that even as a new comer, I wasn't going to act like one. So, rather than conceal myself and retreat to the shadows, I decided to pretend that I owned the place. I walked to the center of the unit where there was a bit of open space, laid out my bed sheet, put up a sutrah, and prayed Maghrib with about a hundred inmates looking on. Thus, I was able to break the intimidation factor of prison environment from my first hour inside.



This is a method that can be applied at work, school, etc. for Muslims who might be nervous or intimidated into hiding their beliefs or practices. Rather than let the environment control you, be strong and proud and establish your presence from day one. This is the only way your co-workers, classmates, boss, etc. will respect you, and it is the only way other inmates will respect you in prison. People will respect us when they see that we respect ourselves.



A group of tatooed Latinos noticed me praying and walked over once I was done and introduced themselves. They offered to obtain me a Mushaf, they pointed out what food i should avoid, and they even offered to keep the shower area clear of other inmates while i was in there in light of the Islamic rules of modesty they were well aware of. I would come to discover that Muslims are the most respected group in the prison system. Muslims in prison have a reputation for being disciplined, clean, distanced from homosexuality & drugs that are rampant in there, generally minding their own business, and it didn't hurt that Malcolm X was a Muslim.



So, in here, first impression is everything . . .



. . . That was back in 2008. In my current location it's a bit harder to interact in such a manner, but there are still ways.



There are three modes of communication down here. One is the use of written notes passed through the unit runner. This is generally reserved for inmates requesting items to borrow or use from other inmates. For example, I'm the only one down here who orders honey from the prison commissary. I always have a bottle of it in my cell. One day, the cell above me sent a note down asking to use some to make his instant coffee. I only had a small amount left, I sent it up to him with the runner. A few hours later, he sent the bottle back along with a coffee pouch filled with some of the coffee he'd made. Allah provides!



Some cells have air ducts connecting them , and prisoners in these cells will sometimes shout through the vents to those next to them or above them. It's very difficult for them to hear each other due to the distance and the constant whirring of the ventilation system competing with their voices. So, they often have to shout very loudly, and I am sometimes able to make out their words. Here is a sample of a conversation I overheard a few weeks ago:



"... Yo! What Color is Winnie the Pooh?"

"He's yellow."

"Nah, he looks gold."

(silence)

"He's yellowish-gold, I think."

(silence)

"That nigga is definitely yellow!"

"Yeah, but what about his shirt?"



Hopefully, this gives you an idea of the topics occupying people's minds down here. Not very intellectually stimulating.



The third way to get a whiff of social activity is through the small slit at the bottom of our cell doors. Basically, you lay down next to the door and speak into it, and whoever is on the other side can hear you, and they respond in kind. The best time to catch someone and pull them into a conversation is when they are waiting to leave the unit for a court date or such, or when they are first coming in. You just yell out to them as they walk by, and that is the chance to have a five minute conversation. I am always curious about people's histories and backgrounds, so I take every chance I can get to converse. One of the first guys I spoke to down here was a general in the Croatian military, wanted by the International War Crimes Tribunal. Another one, Vee Cee, is accused of shooting someone in the head to steal his gold necklace (he answers every question by rapping). I also came across a fellow who calls himself D.O.G.:



"They call me D.O.G."

"Dog?"

"No. It's D-O-G."

"Dog ..."

"No! D-O-G."

"That spells 'dog', my friend."



The way I see it, prison is much like Hajj. No matter how rich or poor, everyone is in the same place, wearing the same simple clothing, eating the same food, enduring the same hardships, and awaiting the same outcome (freedom). Nothing on the outside matters - this is their world now. Their fancy cars, guns, girls, cash, drugs, and flashy clothes are all gone. All of the material possessions through which they elevated themselves above others on the street are now out of sight and irrelevant. They all find themselves facing an unpleasant reality; are desperate to escape it, and are humble towards whatever they feel can alleviate its harshness. And not surprisingly, many of them turn to religion. This is one of the best - if not the best - places to tell others about Islam. The one who is serving a 20 year sentence for a crime committed in a moment of intoxication - how do you think he will respond when you tell him that because you are a Muslim, alcohol has never touched your tongue? The one who feels he has wasted his life and ruined it - how do you think he will react internally when you tell him about the Hereafter, Paradise, Hell, etc. and teach him that even if he screwed up this life, he has an eternal life that he still has a chance to set right? The one who has lost all hope in those around him - what would he want to hear more than that he has an All-Hearing, Knowing, Seeing, and Responding Lord who is just a supplication away? Along with hospitals, prisons are one of the few institutions in this society that have designated chaplains & chapels. Why? Because these are the settings where man discovers the truth of his state; these are the settings where we realize our weaknesses & limitations & helplessness, and realize the value of hope in our Creator.



So in a sense, prison sets our heart free from the illusions of everyday life ...

... I'm laying in bed sometime before Fajr when I hear something slide under my door. I get up to see what it is, and find a book ( 'Looking for a Way Out' by Michael Norwood). I look out to see who it was, and I see Knipps on his way to court. Knipps is one of the few guys in here that I was able to have some intelligent conversations with. We;d been exchanging books through the runner, and he truly enjoyed reading 'Enemy Combatant' when I'd lent it to him a while back, and I likewise benefitted from what he had let me borrow. I am therefore not surprised to to see that he had given me this book. I shout out through the slit in the door that I'd get it back to him when I complete it. I open up the book and find a handwritten note inside:



TAREK,

GOOD LUCK WITH EVERYTHING, MY FRIEND. I HOPE THIS BOOK INSPIRES YOU. DON'T EVER GIVE UP!!! THERE'S ALWAYS HOPE ALTHOUGH QUITE OFTEN, YOU HAVE TO WORK TO FIND IT.

I LIED TO YOU ABOUT THE DETAILS OF MY CASE. I DON'T LIKE TO REVEAL THEM, AND I THINK YOU'LL FIND THAT'S FAIRLY CONSISTENT ACROSS THE PRISON SYSTEM. TRUST HALF OF WHAT YOU SEE AND NONE OF WHAT YOU HEAR. I HAVE FOUR (4) VICTIMS IN MY CASE, WITH 26 TOTAL CHARGES. EIGHT OF THOSE CHARGES ARE FOR A (VIOLENT CRIME).

UNFORTUNATELY, DUE TO OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE IN MY CASE, I AM ACCEPTING A PLEA DAL FOR 25-30 YARS. IF I TOOK IT TO TRIAL, I WOULD UNDOUBTEDLY BE SENTENCED TO 80+ YEARS, WHICH IS A LIFE SENTENCE CONSIDERING I'M UNDER 40, BARELY. MUCH OF THE CASE STEMMED FROM LIES, BUT ENOUGH LIES COMBINED WITH SOME TRUTHS IS ENOUGH TO GET A CONVICTION, UNFORTUNATELY.

I'M SORRY FOR LYING TO YOU. YOU DESERVE THE TRUTH. I'D LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU, BUT IF YOU NO LONGER WANT TO WRITE ME, I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND.

~ GO WITH GOD ~

YOUR FRIEND,

K.



He's left his mother's address for me to contact him through at whichever prison he's being transferred to (it is illegal for prisoners to communicate directly with each other through the mail). I step back and think about the oddity of it all: this man who did what he did referring to me as a friend, and I am about to write him with sympathy and sadness in my heart for what I've just read. What a waste.



I am often asked by family and friends about the worst aspect of being here. My reply is that among all of the other factors of life that prison upsets, the most apparent and deeply affecting is that of one's social circle. We are used to seeing the people we love, those who we can relate to, those we are familiar with and can trust and trust us; those we reach out to and who reach out to us for companionship define who we are, and constitute an inseparable component of our lives. To have that component torn off and replaced without a choice in the matter is probably the most consistent reminder of imprisonment, as the desire to call a friend, or invite someone for coffee, or seek advice from a wise man - all are met with the return to reality of where I am and who I am surrounded by. It is an inevitable consequence that when one is removed from a particular environment, that environment adapts to the change. Likewise, when he is placed in a new environment, he is shaped by and adapts to that change. My daily task of compensating for this change is fulfilled through two main routes, both of which I will write about in the future (in Sha' Allah): books and letters, which are my sources of good in here.



I close by saying this: despite these conditions, despite these surroundings, & despite this solitude, I consider myself in the company of the most noble, honorable people on the face of the Earth. They are white, black, brown; they speak dozens of languages, hail from all corners of the Earth, and are likewise unjustly imprisoned by the tawaghit of their locales in all corners of the Earth for their Tawhid. These dear brothers (and sisters, unfortunately) occupy a position in my heart that can be filled by no one else. They are experiencing my ordeal along with me, and I am experiencing their ordeal alongside them, and nobody can change that despite the hundreds and thousands of miles that separate us, and whoever of them happens to read this should know very well that I love them for Allah's sake and supplicate for them by named in the last third of every night, and by location for those whose names are unknown to me ...



... As the night ends, I grab the Mushaf and sit next to my cell door. I lean toward the open slit at the bottom, and I decide tot take advantage of the unit's good acoustics. I recite Qur'an for a while to the unwitting audience of whoever happens to be walking by & whoever can hear me from their cells across the unit.



When I'm done, there is complete tranquility, و الحمد لله.



(To be continued, in Sha' Allah)



طارق مهنا

Tariq Mehanna

6th of Safar 1431/ 22nd of January 2010

Plymouth Correctional Facility

Isolation Unit - Cell #108
Kes Hel 03, 2010 4:52 pm Näytä käyttäjän tiedot Lähetä yksityinen viesti
ummuyusuf



Liittynyt: 16 Syy 2004
Viestejä: 1855

Lähetä Vastaa lainaamalla viestiä
"So, rather than conceal myself and retreat to the shadows, I decided to pretend that I owned the place. I walked to the center of the unit where there was a bit of open space, laid out my bed sheet, put up a sutrah, and prayed Maghrib with about a hundred inmates looking on. Thus, I was able to break the intimidation factor of prison environment from my first hour inside. "

MA'SHA ALLAAH! Allaah vapauttakoon veljemme. Aamin.

_________________
"The one who is (truly) imprisoned is the one whose heart is imprisoned from Allah, and the captivated one is the one whose desires have enslaved him." Ibn Taymiyah
Kes Hel 03, 2010 7:03 pm Näytä käyttäjän tiedot Lähetä yksityinen viesti
malaika



Liittynyt: 07 Hel 2005
Viestejä: 118
Paikkakunta: helsinki

Lähetä Vastaa lainaamalla viestiä
Today, Tues Feb 23rd fax a letter expressing your outrage at the federal harassment and illegitimate proceedings against Tarek to Assistant U.S. Attorney and federal prosecutor Aloke Chakravarty 617-748-3664 (fax).

If you don't have time to write a letter, one can be found at http://freetarek.com/

I cannot stress how important this is for Tarek's case. All it takes is a few minutes of your time.

In Struggle,

The Free Tarek Defense Committee
Tii Hel 23, 2010 3:31 pm Näytä käyttäjän tiedot Lähetä yksityinen viesti MSN Messenger
ummuyusuf



Liittynyt: 16 Syy 2004
Viestejä: 1855

Lähetä Vastaa lainaamalla viestiä
17 vuoden tuomio! Allaah tehköön ajasta nopeasti menevän, täytelijään opinnoista ja rauhan sielulle. Aamin. Allaah antakoon voimia ja kärsivällisyyttä hänelle ja kaikille muille muslimivangeille. Aamin!

Ja tässä blaah, heidän näkökulmaa....
Amerikkalainen mies sai torstaina 17,5 vuoden tuomion terrorismista.
Oikeus katsoi, että egyptiläisen siirtolaisen poika Tarek Mehanna, 29, oli aikonut tappaa amerikkalaisia liittymällä jemeniläiseen militanttiryhmään. Lisäksi hän levitti terroristijärjestö al-Qaidan materiaalia.

Mehannan asianajaja piti oikeudenkäyntiä poliittisena.

Alempi oikeusaste totesi jo joulukuussa Mehannan syylliseksi viiteen terrorismiin liittyvään syytteeseen. Syyttäjän mukaan Mehanna matkusti vuonna 2004 Jemeniin saadakseen sotilaskoulutusta. Mehannan oli tarkoitus taistella Irakissa.

Mies palasi kuitenkin Yhdysvaltoihin, jossa hän alkoi kääntää ja levittää al-Qaidan materiaalia. Syyttäjän mukaan Mehanna laittoi värväysvideoita internetiin.


_________________
"The one who is (truly) imprisoned is the one whose heart is imprisoned from Allah, and the captivated one is the one whose desires have enslaved him." Ibn Taymiyah
Per Huh 13, 2012 8:11 am Näytä käyttäjän tiedot Lähetä yksityinen viesti
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