Sunday, October 10, 2004

Terrrrrrssts right here in Nashville!

The following article from our local paper details the arrest of Ahmed al-Uqaily, an Iraqi born man active in the local peace movement here. First, the article:

Suspect planned to 'go jihad,' friend said

Staff Writer

Tip leads to Iraqi native's arrest here in weapons sting

For almost three months, law-enforcement agents have kept a close eye on an Iraqi-born man they say was scheming to purchase machine guns, hand grenades and anti-tank missiles as part of a plan to ''go jihad'' in Nashville.

Ahmed Hassan Al-Uqaily, 33, made his initial appearance yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Clifton Knowles to face federal charges of illegal possession of machine guns. He was taken into custody Thursday after allegedly accepting the guns from someone he thought was a weapons dealer. Knowles ordered him held in custody.

An undercover agent posed as the dealer, according to U.S. Attorney Jim Vines.

Al-Uqaily came to the government's attention in early August with a tip from ''a vigilant individual,'' an old acquaintance of the suspect who was startled by Al-Uqaily's angry tone, Vines said.

That chance encounter took place Aug. 4, when ''Al-Uqaily expressed anger about the state of affairs in Iraq and stated that he was 'going jihad' and he was going to blow up something,'' a federal affidavit says.

The worried acquaintance alerted members of the local FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force the next day. Soon Metro police, the TBI, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and state Homeland Security officials were all participating with the FBI in the investigation, according to Vines.

Federal authorities said Al-Uqaily did not come to their attention until Aug. 5 when the friend told them about the threats.

Al-Uqaily had been in the public spotlight before.

In May, while standing hooded on Lower Broadway in a public re-enactment of one of the infamous pictures taken at Iraq's Abu-Ghraib prison, Al-Uqaily told The Tennessean that his brothers and mother had been killed during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and that his father had been jailed.

His family, he said then, was from the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.

In September the acquaintance updated agents about Al-Uqaily's intent, court records state. Al-Uqaily told the acquaintance that he wanted to purchase four grenades and two handguns. The acquaintance, acting with the agents' knowledge, told Al-Uqaily that he knew of a weapons dealer, affidavits show.

The government says it has recordings of Al-Uqaily making arrangements Sept. 10 to purchase the hardware for $1,000.

Eight days later, he said he also wanted two or three machine guns, ammunition and ''missiles.'' He also said he needed more time before buying the weapons, court records show.

On Oct. 4, in another recorded conversation described in an FBI affidavit, Al-Uqaily talked about wanting an anti-tank weapon, and he discussed getting the acquaintance's help to go on his ''mission.'' The acquaintance asked where.

''Al-Uqaily responded by expressing animosity towards the Jewish community,'' states the affidavit. ''Discussion ensued about two Jewish facilities in the Nashville area, but Al-Uqaily gave no indication of specific plans in connection with those facilities.''

The next day, the acquaintance and an undercover agent who was posing as the weapons dealer discussed terms for a deal involving grenades and machine guns.

The planned transaction did not go through as expected Wednesday, when the suspect expressed worries that he was under law-enforcement surveillance.

They decided to make the cash-for-weapons exchange at a southeast Nashville food business on Thursday, according to Vines. After the exchange, Al-Uqaily was arrested in the parking lot. Vines would not name the business, but Uqaily was wearing a Krispy Kreme doughnut shirt at his court appearance Friday.

A manager at the Krispy Kreme store on Thompson Lane said yesterday that he was aware of the circumstances but could not comment.

Last night, at 1923B Laurinda Drive — Al-Uqaily's most recent address, according to an Internet records service — a hand-painted van sat parked.

Nearby were the remnants of crime-scene tape from a recent search. Inside the van was a plainly visible utility bill addressed to Al-Uqaily.

Painted in black letters across splotches of bright colors on the van were a series of slogans that echoed Al-Uqaily's Lower Broadway demonstration in May: ''I pray all soldiers lay down their guns.'' ''War won't work.'' ''Stop killing kids for oil.'' And, ''Moses, Jesus & Mohammed all talk peace.''

I've never met the man personally, so I can't say anything about him or his mental health if he, indeed, actually wanted to buy "anti-tank weapons" as the FBI claims. He did lose family members in the first Gulf Massacre, so I suppose he could have had a post traumatic stress freak-out that would allow him to be manipulated into such a bizarre scenario. Why I say manipulated and why the whole story is suspicious is what follows.

First, I have to ask. Is anyone else bothered by the description of the snitch in this story as a "vigilant individual" (v.i. from here on.)? Kinda 1984ish if you ask me.

V.I. is an "old acquaintance" who was disturbed by al-Uqaily's angry tone. Spare me such acquaintances. V.I. brought al-Uqaili to the FBI's attention and they began to monitor him three months ago. I got news for you, folks. Any Iraqi born person who is publicly protesting the war to "liberate" his home country has been under surveillance since the war started or since their activism started, whichever came first.

Then we are asked to believe that this man had a shopping list of items, including anti-tank weapons, which he wanted to purchase from the agent posing as an arms dealer and actually purchased some "hardware" for a thousand bucks. Please re-read the article. The man worked at Krispy Kreme Donuts. He's gonna buy himself some missiles on 8 bucks an hour? There are a lot cheaper way for evildoers to do their evil. Most of which are available at Walmart. (Is it only in the south you can buy guns from Walmart?)

Speaking of anti-tank weapons, we don't have a lot of tanks in the streets of Nashville. Admittedly, we do have a lot of hummers, but those usually contain arrogant and wealthy suburbanites, not military folks. What, exactly, was he going to need anti-tank weapons for? This is one part of the story that made it clear that this whole thing was either a frame-up or al Uqaily is mentally ill.

So now they've got him. In a rare nod to the document formerly known as the Constitution, he was actually arraigned in a courtroom! In his Krispy Kreme uniform! However, I don't assume they will go the trial route. As anyone who reads this site knows, they could simply declare him an "enemy combatant" and poof, he's off playing checkers with Jose Padilla. Ideas like due process are so quaint, no?

Why would they frame up such a man? I can only think of about 12 reasons but I'll list a few here.

1. He was Iraqi and against the war publicly. Bad form.

2. His arrest discredits the local anti-war movement.

3. Now that he is a suspect, anyone in his circle of acquaintances is subject to investigation.

4. The local anti-war group is put into the uncomfortable position of "defending a terrorist" or allowing this injustice to transpire uncontested.

5. His labelling as a terrorist reminds all of us that Muslims, particularly of the Arab kind, and particularly of the Iraqi Arab kind, hate us and want to kill us. This position, of course, directly conflicts with the U.S. stated goal of "liberating" those selfsame Iraqi Arabs, but such contradictions do not bother the American people, some of whom have told me quite recently that Saddam was a threat and that we ought to just "bomb them all." Americans are known for many things, but subtlty is not one of them.

You get the idea. The motive is there. There have been several big terrorist cases launched by the government only to be dropped due to lack of evidence and I hope this is the case here, though the damage has once again been done. Damage to the reputation of Muslims and Arabs and to al-Uqaily himself. The damage to him could be quite severe. You see, if you reread the article, you see the helpfully included his home address.



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