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September 08, 2003

Pak Your Bags

In December of 2002, Shafiq Mohammad was instrumental in publicizing, then leading the condemnation of, links to a hate speech site at the website of the Guilford Country Republican Party. Now he's facing an October 2nd deportation hearing.

Unlike other high-profile deportation cases, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed Mohammad's situation since he hasn't been charged with a crime and his case has no known connection to terrorism.

Sue Brown, a spokeswoman for Homeland Security, said she didn't know specifically why Mohammad faces deportation. Most immigrants in his situation have stayed longer than the time allotted on their immigration papers, she said.

How odd. A Muslim man embarasses some Republicans in December, throws a bit of humiliating media exposure their way, and 8 months later he's slapped with a deportation hearing. Surely that's a coincidence?

Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it. Guilford County is represented by one of North Carolina's most senior Republicans, Representative Howard Coble. Rep. Coble is best known lately for his inept remarks on the appropriateness of Japanese internment camps during World War II.

Howard Coble may not be ept, but he is powerful. He's a senior member of the Committee on the Judiciary, and Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. These are the House bodies in charge of

...jurisdiction over matters relating to the administration of justice in Federal courts, administrative bodies, and law enforcement agencies.

...... the scope of the committee’s concern has expanded to include not only civil and criminal judicial proceedings and Federal courts and judges, but also issues relating to bankruptcy, espionage, terrorism, the protection of civil liberties, constitutional amendments, immigration and naturalization, interstate compacts, claims against the United States, national penitentiaries, Presidential succession, antitrust law, revision and codification of the statutes of the United States, state and territorial boundary lines and patents, copyrights and trademarks.

Gosh, do you think he might have any influence over who gets chosen for the Department of Homeland Security's deportation hearings?

Let's do a quick recap here.

Muslim man embarrasses Guilford N.C. Republicans, a group that just happens to include the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. Eight months later the Department of Homeland Security attempts to deport him, for no known reason.

Can you say "Payback?"

There's no suspicion of terroristic association, nor has Mr. Mohammad been charged with a crime. No one seems to know what the charges are, except perhaps Mr. Mohammad, and he's not talking.

Which is odd, when one considers how willing he's been to speak to the media in the past. If, as the Dept. of Homeland Security spokesman theorized, it's just a matter of overstaying a visa, why the silence?

Perhaps he's realized the first rule of holes.*

Assuming that the hearing is about something as innocuous as a papers mixup, and Mr. Mohammed is as westernized as he appears to be (daughters in college, willingly associates with Jews and other heathens, wears Tommy Hilfiger) he should be allowed to stay. Deporting innocuous Muslims is counterproductive to the best strategy in the War on Terror, even if they are at fault when it comes to their immigration status, and even if they have embarrassed, if only by association, powerful elected Republicans.

Of course, if it turns out Shafiq is not as innocuous as he seems, something that is at least suggested by the Islamic Center's former links to radical Islamic websites, well, I hear Islamabad is lovely this time of year.

Postscript: If for no other reason, the theory presented above should illustrate why the Administration's attempts to close immigration trials to the public is such a horrendous decision. Even if Howard Coble has nothing to do with Shafiq Mohammad's current troubles, I've got no trouble at all imaging a scenario in which a government official, elected or otherwise, uses that cloak of secrecy to pursue a personal vendetta. Do you really think that, depending on your political affiliation, Tom Delay or Hilary Clinton would hesitate for even a second before taking advantage of such a setup to settle a score?

Secret trials reduce government openess and accountability, and thus reduce trust in the government, and there's not a lot of that to go round to begin with. Such proceedings should be anathema to all Americans.

* "The first rule of holes: When you're in one, stop digging." --Molly Ivins

Posted by Bigwig at September 8, 2003 12:25 AM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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Comments

Unfortunately, there is a flaw in the conspiracy theory. According to the reporter covering this for News & Record, the man who pointed out the "hate speech" links on the Guilford County Republican Web site was a man named Badi Ali, not Shafiq Mohammed.

She also suggests that Shafiq Mohammed could be classified as a "Howard Coble Republican" because of his conservative views on deporting those suspected of threatening the U.S. (He's all in favor of deportations, evidently.)

Posted by: Kehaar at September 8, 2003 10:52 AM

Hmm. I'll grant her insider knowledge, but I can't find a thing on the web that states that Badr Ali was the discoverer of the hate speech links.

Regardless, most stories I can still find on it offer at least a quote from Shafiq, so it's not out of the question to say he was instrumental in publicizing, then leading the condemnation of said links.

In the news stories I can find on Badr Ali, he seems like much more of a radical than Shafiq, and even knew the alleged 9/11 mastermind. Be interesting to see if he and Shafiq tend to run a kind of good cop/bad cop routine whenever the media is near.

Badi Ali is also involved with the ICOG, so it could also be that Shafiq's deportation is aimed at the Islamic Center in general rather than Shafiq in particular.

Posted by: Bigwig at September 8, 2003 11:32 AM
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