Mahmoud El-Yousseph's Letter to the Editor

The following letter was published in the Marion Star (Print) and the Columbus Dispatch online letters. I am certain that Mr. Yousseph will not mind my reproducing it here in its entirety:

Proper punishment for convicted terrorist

Central Ohio sleep tight tonight. A second Columbus man was busted for terror ties and was sentenced for 10 years in jail. What a relief!

Nuradin Abdi, a Somali immigrant, was convicted last week and will spend the next 6 years behind bars and then be expelled to Mogadishu. Take it from this Muslim, Abdi is getting what he deserves.

Abdi was convicted of providing material to terror activities and plan to carry out attack at an area shopping mall, targeting innocent citizens. He claimed that was in response to U.S. agression against Muslims abroad.

That is not how you should show gratitude to the country that took you in as a refugee, provided you with a chance at work, safety, and security. If he was dissatisfied with our government foreign policy (as am I), there are many legal avenues available, even to non-citizens. By advocating the use of violence, he was part of the problem and not the solution.
Fortunately, he did not have a chance to carry out his plan.

I must admit I've never met the man. However, when I read about his case four years ago, I was suspicious about the government's claim, since Abdi was arrested based on secret evidence. This was, afterall, at the height of anti-Muslim feeling in the U.S.

Still fresh on the minds of Muslims across America were the two high profile cases of two other U.S.-born Muslim converts: Brandon Mayfield, an attorney from Oregon and James [Yusuf] Yee of Washington state. Mr. Mayfield was falsely accused by the government and was implicated with the Madrid bombing, while Captain James Yee, who served in the U.S. Army at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, was charged with espionage and many other serious offenses. Later the government dropped all charges against both of them. The government agreed to settle with Mayfield for $ 2 million, and offered him a formal apology: The federal government "regrets that it mistakenly linked Mr. Mayfield to this attack." The U.S. Army lost a valuable human resource. Captain Yee received an honorable discharge, no apology, and he wrote a book about his ordeal to pay off his $200,000 legal expenses.

During that hysteria, I spoke publicly in defense of Abdi and about his right to free and fair trial based on evidence. I even contributed to his legal defense fund. Now after his case is over and he has admitted guilt to terror ties, I accept that this misguided man has betrayed his family, local Somalis, Central Ohio's Muslim community, and the country that welcomed him.

Of special concern to me is the lack of response to this issue by local Muslim and Arab leaders, especially by The Council of American Islamic Relations [CAIR]. CAIR has defended Abdi vigorously throughout his case when it perceived he was a victim. One would think that CAIR leadership would have the moral courage to denounce Abdi's act, once he was found guilty on credible evidence. I made four attempts by phone seeking a reaction from two CAIR members, my messages were not returned. Sadly, that was the same group that I once admired and took heat for defending in the press.

Lets hope and pray that the New Year does not bring us anymore unpleasant surprises, the likes of Nuradin Abdi. As far as this Muslim is concerned, I will continue to speak out my opinion -- a freedom which is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution -- even when it is not popular. But I will keep in mind my late mother's (bless her soul) advice to me as I embarked for America: Don't spit into the plate that feeds you!

Mahmoud El-Yousseph, Westerville

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