Monday, December 22, 2014

Art Exhibit Questions Boston Marathon Bombing Scenario


The author standing next to a  on display at Black Indian Inn in Dorchester, MA. Photo by David Barkley.
The Boston Chapter of The Jericho Movement recently held an event at the Black Indian Inn art gallery, entitled ‘Artistic Hospitality in the Hood.’ The event featured a film about Abu Mumia Jamal, an African American convicted and sentenced to life without parole for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.
This event coincided with an exhibit questioning the official story in the Boston Marathon bombing that took place in April 2013. To me, the most immediately noticeable panel of the display shows a picture of the accused Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s face coming out of the darkness with the words, “I’m not asking for mercy, I’m asking for justice,” positioned next to it. The display awakens the part of the mind that questions official details about a crime scene and allows a “shadow of a doubt” to penetrate the consciousness.
The panels on display in this exhibit were the same panels were held by protesters in front of Boston’s federal courthouse on October 20, 2014. Among those present that day was Elena Teyer, mother in law of Ibrahim Todashev, who was murdered by a Boston FBI agent in his Florida home in May 2013, while writing a forced confession implicating himself and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a triple homicide. His confession does not match the actual crime scene. One of the most important panels shows photographs from Todashev’s autopsy.
The most terrifying aspect of this young man’s situation while awaiting trial is that despite an endless stream of media content vilifying him and his Islamic religion, we the public have never been allowed to hear him say more than “Not Guilty,” which he said seven times at his arraignment. Not even his sisters are allowed to talk to him without an FBI officer present in the room. The defense is gagged – prevented from saying publicly that their client is innocent! Meanwhile, the media has not been stopped from airing highly inflammatory stories about him.
“Meet Jahar…” reads a statement on the most prominent poster of the exhibit. It shows the boy’s downcast face as he was captured in the boat after being shot multiple times by police despite being unarmed. One thing is clear in the face of this 19-year-old in this most terrifying of circumstances: he looks alarmingly handsome, calm, and resolved. It is rumored that he is ready to accept death penalty before he will plead guilty for a crime he did not commit. He is placing his fate in the hands of Allah.
Nearby, we see the innocent boy on a happier day with a carnation in his lapel. The public has never before been exposed to the image of him with a flower! We learn that this “terrorist” sounds like the kid we wish we could say was our son.
Panel on display depicting the scene of the Boston Marathon Bombing. Photo by David Barkley.
Crowning the display is a collection of photos of young men who are currently being held in solitary confinement, basically because they knew the Tsarnaevs.

Many of the panels discuss the logistics of what happened when the first and second bombs went off. One poster claims to show photographic evidence that “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was not even standing at the site of the 2nd bomb. He was next door at Atlantic Fish Restaurant.”
One section of the display concentrates on the “bomb squad practice” that was going on at the same time as the actual bombs, and official media assurances that these explosions were only a “training exercise.” We see bomb sniffing dogs at the finish line, snipers on the roof wearing protective gear, and a tweet from the Boston Globe that reads, “Officials: There will be a controlled explosion opposite the library within one minute as part of bomb squad activities.”
Three panels focus on the issue of “the backpack.” Photographic evidence clearly demonstrates that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did not have any kind of pressure cooker or anything heavy in his light colored backpack. The exploded backpack shown in the media bears close resemblance to that worn by men who are believed to be Craft International employees, who were photographed standing around with heavy black backpacks near the time of the blasts.
An additional panel exhibits conflicting accounts of what happened that night when the brothers were on the run. Early media reports said they had robbed a 7-11. Surveillance photos show they just bought snacks. Similar discrepancies exist regarding the story about the shooting of MIT police officer Sean Collier. Early police reports stated they were looking for a dark skinned male. Tsarnaev was first accused of this cop killing a few weeks later at his grand jury hearing. Another poster shows multiple images of the unconstitutional behavior of police raiding homes in Watertown, Massachusetts.
The display raises more questions than it answers, but it is not the citizens’ job to prove anyone’s innocence. It is the government’s job to establish guilt of the accused, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Meanwhile, we watch and wait.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

If Jahar didn't bomb the marathon, who did?

Boston - Accused Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar (Jahar) Tsarnaev’s last pre-trial hearing took place on December 18th. He still resolutely refuses to plead guilty for a crime he claims he did not commit. I watched the proceedings in the overflow room and also participated in a protest outside the courthouse, where I was interviewed by reporters from every news channel.

I explained to them that I want a fair trial for Jahar. The public deserves to know what really happened. We need to make sure we got the right guy. Erroneous media reports based on leaks from anonymous law enforcement officials have been presented to the public in lieu of evidence, and have greatly biased the jury pool against the defendant before he has even gone to trial. As to whether or not I personally think he’s innocent, I would say, based on past prosecutions by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s team in front of the same Judge O’Toole, that it is highly probable that the young man is simply a victim of anti-Islamic prejudice.

For example, Tarek Mehanna was sentenced to over 17 years for joking comments he made on the internet, which the government misconstrued as planning to commit terrorist acts. His trial was based on highly inflammatory statements against the Islamic religion, irrelevant evidence such as beheading videos, expert testimony from career neocons, and plea bargains from acquaintances who were facing decades in prison unless they testified against Mehanna. Based on the media reports, during the time of the trial, many people in the Muslim community refused to stand up for their brother and spent energy distancing themselves from him. It was only after sentencing that he was allowed to speak out about his unjust conviction.

In Jahar’s case, he is not just accused of thought crimes but actual explosions that killed and maimed people. If he is innocent, then the real bomber is still at large. In the worst case scenario, Jahar was chosen as a fall guy to cover up for a plot that is much more sinister. So far, there have been no bomb making materials found in either his home nor that of his brother. The government has never once claimed that the fireworks that his friends took out of his dorm room were linked to the bombing. The government prosecuted the friends for lying about throwing away the backpacks, in order to pressure them to testify against their friend.

If there is evidence that Jahar and his brother Tamerlan had something to do with the Boston Marathon bombings, then the public still deserves to know the bigger picture. I have no problem with executing a criminal who committed murder but I have a huge problem with someone being executed in order to silence him. The government has silenced almost every potential defense witness. Jahar’s friends, relatives, friends of friends and even relatives of friends of friends have been deported, imprisoned and even killed by the FBI. The defense complains that they are having trouble getting anyone to talk due to government intimidation.

Furthermore, defense lawyers have complained that the prosecution is being evasive instead of presenting clear arguments as to why they believe he is the bomber. They don’t seem to want to “unravel the mystery.”

I don’t know if the truth will ever come out in this courtroom. It is not being played as a straightforward prosecution. The government is playing chess, not proving their point.

Hearing after hearing, the defense has been begging the prosecution to present their argument. Instead, the government has dumped on them millions of pages of unsearchable computer records without any explanation as to their significance. US Attorney Weinreb has consistently argued, with a smirk on his face, that if the government were to present their case to the defense, the defense would be able to come up with a counter-argument, which would be unfair to prosecutors; therefore they need to keep the element of surprise. Yet at the same time, the government has been illegally feeding news stories to the media. The defense complained that they are learning more about the government’s narrative of this case from the television than they are getting from the other attorneys. The government is not playing fair, which leads to the question of whether it is covering up the truth.

In 95% of cases since 9/11, where Muslims are accused of terrorism related acts, the FBI has been involved. We need to know more about the extent of FBI involvement in the Boston Marathon bombing suspects’ lives. His mother stated to reporters last year that the FBI had been interviewing Tamerlan on a regular basis for two years before the bombing. He had been asked to become an informant. They knew him well. So, the most likely scenario is either that he bombed the marathon as an employee of the FBI, or else that he was framed for a crime he did not commit in retaliation for refusing to become an informant for the FBI.

I don’t want to live in a country where the FBI can just come into your house and murder you because you knew somebody, where they can just accuse you of a bombing and then, instead of presenting evidence in a court of law, make up TV docu-dramas about you without even consulting you for your side of the story. Perhaps it’s not as important to ordinary Americans that their government obey the rule of law, but as someone whose parents came to this country and swore their allegiance to the US Constitution, I see no other course of action possible other than standing up and fighting for what my country stands for.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is an American citizen with rights. He came to this country as a refugee. He loved living here. He had many friends, no criminal record, and absolutely no motive to hurt anyone. If people don’t stand up for his rights, next week it could be your son in shackles.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Finally, we see him!!!

Dzhokhar (Jahar) Tsarnaev’s last pre-trial hearing took place Thursday, December 18 at 10am. Drone footage shows him being brought into the courthouse around 6am wearing shackles and an orange jumpsuit. He looked thin and seemed physically weak. The courthouse entranceway was a zoo, with a huge crowd of reporters, Homeland Security, FBI, police and protesters even before 8am. The massive audience filled the courtroom, plus two overflow courtrooms and the jury assembly hall, where the proceedings were shown on livestream video. About a dozen people identifying as victims of the Boston Marathon bombings also attended. Those watching on video were able to hear the judge clearly and see the defendant’s face while those experiencing the hearing live saw only his back.

Jahar sported wild, unkempt curly hair that was almost an afro, standing many inches above his head. He has grown a short beard. His eyes were downcast most of the time. He touched his face and nose a lot. His feet remained in shackles, while he sat in a relaxed slouch with his knees open throughout the 25 minute hearing. His facial expression seemed a bit weird and befuddled - quite intense yet not quite there - perhaps a side effect of being kept in isolation for over a year. He seemed almost disoriented, but maybe he was just exhausted from being hauled out of bed in the middle of the night. A supporter later asked his mother if he was taking medication and was told no, he won’t even take aspirin for a headache. He was wearing a black sweater over a white button-down shirt and slacks for court.

Judge O’Toole asked Jahar whether he had voluntarily chosen not to be present for any of the previous hearings; whether he had been kept up to date on the proceedings; and if he was happy with his representation. Jahar answered, “Yes, sir” to the first two questions and “pretty much,” or “very much” to the last question. This is the first time the public had heard his voice since he pled “Not Guilty” in 2013. The rest of the hearing was nothing special, just going over the motions. Judy Clarke patted him on the back a few times. Until…

As Jahar was handcuffed and taken out of the courtroom after the hearing, a woman in the courtroom started yelling loudly in Russian: “There are many people here supporting you. We are praying for you. We love you. We know you are innocent! Stay strong, my son!”

Onlookers report that he heard these words and smiled, although he did not turn around.

“I'm pretty sure his lawyers were not happy! Lol! I saw Miriam Conrad's face was like a wtf moment ... But I can tell Jahar was relieved. Jahar appreciates It,” stated an onlooker.

As the US Marshalls escorted her out, Elena shouted in English, “Stop killing innocent people! Stop killing innocent boys!”

Elena Teyer, US veteran and the mother of Ibrahim Todashev’s widow, then suddenly gave an impromptu press conference to hoards of reporters for the next one and half hours outside. Thank God! It worked out very beautifully that way because of the gag order that prevents Jahar’s lawyers from even stating that their client is innocent in public. Even the prosecutors made no statement to the press. Elena passionately defended Jahar’s innocence and all his friends. She decried all of the lives that have been destroyed because of FBI lies and games.

The ongoing arguments between the defense and prosecution are that the defense wants a “continuance” - in other words, more time to prepare. The government is demanding (and I would say bullying) the defense to provide detailed information about witnesses, even though it has been made clear that the witnesses are feeing too intimidated.

About 8 protesters held up placards after the hearing. About half were from out of state while the rest were local. One sign read: “Got proof? Innocent until proven guilty.”

There was a moment where a Bostonian named Marc who had lost half of one leg in the Boston Marathon bombing, waved his empty pant leg at the demonstrators. “We all wished we could have talked to him longer. He said something about what was found in the dorm room and I said have you never played with fireworks? We have to make sure we got the right guy!! It’s important. He reportedly told me to get a job LOL,” said a local supporter.

see video:

What was most astonishing about this hearing is that the government continues to waste the public’s time by insisting that a certain Ms. Vogelbruck be denied as a witness, because as a social worker she has interviewed a lot of people who ever knew the Tsarnaev family. Weinreb argued with his familiar smirk that he needs to know what she might say, in order that he could come up with an appropriate comeback.The government isn’t playing fair.

This is a government prosecution that was able to feed HBO and the History Channel all the statements they wanted to make, extra legal. I’d look into the government cable TV link.

The ongoing “live dispute” pertains to the list of witnesses who might testify as character witnesses in the event of a Guilty decision.

Jahar seems resigned as a noble Chechen would be, to the fate of Allah.

He absolutely refuses to plead guilty for a crime he did not commit.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Peltier “Feeling His Age” in Prison

December 4, 2014 by  

A letter from long term political prisoner Leonard Peltier was read aloud by Bert Waters at the 45th Day of Mourning commemoration, which took place on November 27, 2014 in Plymouth Massachusetts. Every year, a letter from Peltier is read out loud to the crowd. Native American organizer Peltier, who grew up in Turtle Mountain Chippewa Indian Reservation, North Dakota, has served 37 years of a life sentence for allegedly killing an FBI agent. Peltier has long insisted on his innocence, and asserted that during his trial, the government withheld evidence and intimidated witnesses. Every presidential term, Peltier’s supporters have begged unsuccessfully for amnesty.
“The blatant government misconduct was a mitigating factor which should bear strongly on whether I should be immediately considered for parole,” he argues.
Peltier is now 70 years old and losing his vision. This year’s letter reading was particularly moving because it sounded like he doesn’t have much time left to live. Still, he is trying to stay positive.
“In here, I am able to focus on the simple things in life. You have no idea how cool it is, just to get a new pair of socks,” Peltier wrote. “In the past few months, I have really been feeling my age, and I am so very thankful for all the support you have given to me. I won’t lie, it has been a rough time, lately, but I am hopeful that is changing. My people have always had a deep connected relationship with the sun, and I realized the other day just how much I miss the sun. When I had the sun’s light upon me, I felt stronger. These walls hold out the sun’s energy, and it weakens me.”
Peltier stressed that personal visits and even the smell of the fiber in the paper his letters are written on helps him feel “a bit of the sunshine again.” He said that his point is that “we may find the things we need in places that we might not expect.”
“I can always pray. This can never be taken away from me. And through that prayer, I can keep the sun, and hope alive. On this day, Thanksgiving, I shall choose to be thankful, and not to celebrate tyranny. And I’ll also pray for you, and with you. I pray for each and every one of you, whether you support me or not. I pray that your lives will be full of meaning, and that you will find new ways to learn. I pray for your strength, and that you will always stand up for the things that you know are right. I pray that each one of you find a way to protect our Mother Earth. She is crying out for us to hear her. I pray that you will listen to your inner wisdom, let it guide you to make choices that will help each other and that you will be examples of those still learning their way in this life. I pray that you will be present with the moment you have, and enjoy the simple things of life, like the sun, the dirt, the air, the water, and that you would protect them as you would your own children.
“I pray that you will look for opportunities to lift up your sisters and brothers, and not bring them down. I pray that you will grow and enjoy good, natural food. I pray that you savor the attention of your loved ones, and that you build bridges of peace to those you oppose. I pray that when others make bad choices, that you would help them find positive solutions. I pray for understanding in times of misunderstanding.
“And yes, I pray very deeply and honestly that I can go home, go home for a little while, before I cross over, cross over to the spirit world.”
At this point many people in the audience of about 300 persons began to weep.
“I am with you always, and I feel your prayers too. I am always grateful for your support, your love, your friendship, your letters and contact you give me with life. It is harder for me to physically see well enough to write letters these days, so please forgive me if I I don’t write back. It’s not that I don’t want to. Know that I am often sitting and thinking of you and being thankful for you, all of you. Your old, thankful friend and brother. In the spirit of Crazy Horse, Leonard Peltier.”
A red blanket with gold fringe was carried through the crowd to collect donations for Peltier’s legal fund, so that he can continue to fight for his release (see
The group then performed their traditional march through town, past Plymouth Rock, chanting among other things, “Free Leonard Peltier!” singing tribal songs and beating drums. After a prayer and burning of sage at the town square where the head of the rebellious Wampanoag chief Metacom, also known as King Philip, was displayed on a stake for twenty years by the Puritans in front of First Parish Church in the late 1600’s, the crowd enjoyed a turkey dinner inside the church, provided by the United American Indians of New England (UAINE).
Despite his imprisonment, Peltier is widely recognized for his remarkable contributions to humanitarian causes. He “has played a key role in getting people from different tribes, with a history of animosity, to come together in peace.” He has worked with various communities to improve health care on US reservations, stimulate reservation-based businesses, organized an emergency food drive for Mexico, and developed prisoner art programs. Peltier counsels other Native American prisoners to rehabilitate themselves by advocating a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle upholding the beauty of their tribal heritage and customs.

British Muslims Receive 12+ Years for Syria Travel

December 11, 2014 by  

Editor’s note: Karin Friedemann is a TMO Columnist. Any opinions expressed here are her own.
A lack of funds has forced the United Nations to stop providing food vouchers for 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on December 1.   REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar, both 22, were arrested at Heathrow Airport in January 2014 as part of a government crackdown on “radicalized jihadists.” These days, this term could mean anyone who went to Syria including for humanitarian reasons. In May, the two pled guilty to one count of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorism acts contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act. 
Ironically, the Guardian reports that police did not know the men had travelled to Syria, where they spent eight months, until one of their mothers contacted detectives in May last year, shortly after the pair had left, reporting her son missing. She had found a note written by her son saying he had gone to fight and wished to “die as a martyr.” Instead of receiving help in locating her son, police raided her home and arrested her son when he tried to return home.
The mother of Yusuf Sarwar, in a press release distributed by CAGE, insisted that her son had “not committed any offenses, killed anyone or fought against any armed forces. He has simply secured areas, dug graves, fasted and given food to areas which were in need of dire help… I feel prison is not the answer, neither is my son radicalized neither is he a terrorist.”
Farooq Siddiqui, of the Prevent programme, is calling for the UK to stop criminalizing young Muslims who travel to Syria to fight against Bashar al-Assad. Mr Siddiqui asked why the government has threatened to arrest British Muslims who return from Syria while it allows young people to fight for Israel and other countries with impunity. And yet there is no enforcement of prison for those British that join IDF.
“They willingly, enthusiastically and with a great deal of purpose, persistence and determination embarked on a course intended to commit acts of terrorism,” Judge Michael Topolski said. “Both of these defendants are fundamentalists who are interested in and deeply committed to violent extremism.”
In an interview with Sky TV, former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg said the pair had been branded “terrorists” despite having “no intention of harming anyone.” He also believes the two appear “bewildered by their situation” and that they probably went to Syria out of a feeling of moral duty to help. In the end, Begg said that they came back because they were frustrated by all the infighting amongst the rebel groups.
“I spent several months in prison with these two men and I do not consider them to be a threat to the British public in any way, just in the same way the police that arrested them said they posed no threat whatsoever,” Begg stated in the interview. He also questioned Ahmed and Sarwar’s sentence and accused the judge of maintaining a double standard when handling cases involving Muslims and terrorism. “How can it be that former soldier Ryan McGee, who was found with a bomb with 187 pieces of shrapnel and evidence of a hate ideology was given 2 years and described as a misguided teenager, while these men have been given over 12 years and branded as terrorists despite them having no intention of harming anyone,” asked Begg, who has demanded that the case be appealed.
British security forces have stepped up surveillance and arrests of terrorism suspects in recent months, and lawmakers are set to toughen anti-terrorism laws in a bid to stem the flow of Britons joining Islamic State (IS) jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq. An estimated 500 Britons are reported to have travelled abroad to become jihadists and officials fear the return of battle-hardened and radicalized fighters.
The controversial anti-terrorism powers, which are being widely used to harass and gather intelligence on Muslims traveling to and from the UK, are being challenged by several human rights organizations. Schedule 7, which forms part of the Terrorism Act 2000, allows police to hold someone at a UK port for questioning for up to nine hours about whether they have been involved with acts of terrorism. Anyone detained must “give the examining officer any information in his possession which the officer requests” or face arrest. Police need to have no reasonable suspicion to stop, interrogate or detain anybody.