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Sis. Safiya Bukhari, one time Black Panther activist, passed away last month in New York. She was a supporter of Jamaat al-Muslimeen and spoke at the Jamaat's International Symposium in Baltimore. An admirer of Dr. Siddique's books on women's rights, she was always on the frontline of the struggle. May Allah forgive her sins and give her a place in al-Jannah.
Overview of the Case:
The Wall Street Journal Attack on American Muslim Chaplain
By Imam Warith-Deen Umar

Who is Paul M. Barrett?
Why Was Imam Umar of New York Targeted?
What is Syndicated Columnist Cal Thomas' role in this attack?
What is the link between media, politicians, and executive government?
Where did it all start?

On Jan. 9, 2003 I received a call from. Paul M. Barrett of the Wall Street Journal. He introduced himself as a writer and said he was doing an article on Islam in prisons. Officials of the New York State Department of Correctional Services (NYSDOCS) referred him to me. I informed him I was no longer an official with the NYSDOCS and was currently providing contractual religious services for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. I told him I was a retired employee for nearly three years and referred him to the Central Office of DOCS. He told me he had already contacted DOCS, had talked with officials and was given permission by Commissioner Glenn L. Goord through the Public Relations office head James Flateau, to proceed with the article. He said he was given permission to visit and meet with Muslim Chaplains and inmates at two state prisons. He was given permission to take photographs inside the prison Mosque. He assured me he was writing a very positive article about the history and good works of the Muslims in American prisons. He stated that he had met with and interviewed Imams in the City of New York Department of Corrections and they too referred him to me.

Paul Barrett asked if he could interview me over dinner and get some history of the Islamic work we were involved in. I agreed to meet with him. He came to Albany on Jan. 16, 2003. We met at the Best Western Hotel and proceeded to a Pakistani Halaal restaurant for dinner. We discussed my work and the history of how we started Islamic services in the prisons here in New York. He asked questions about the inmate legal suits against the state prison system that included my name since I was the state Islamic official for the last 15 years before my retirement. He asked about the Shi'ite inmates asking for services. I told him the suits lacked merit since I always made recommendations for individual devotions for all inmates seeking an opportunity to make worship and devotion a part of their prison experience. I also informed him that I was not a "Sunni" Muslim or a Shi'ite. I was not a Sufi Muslim nor did I consider myself a follower of any sect or particular school of thought or influence. I was and am simply "Muslim" and a member of the worldwide community of Muslims. I am a student and teacher of Islamic knowledge. I told him clearly and without ambiguity that Allah (God) named us Muslim and all the appellations and prefixes were man made. I, like many Muslims today, follow the Qur'an and the way of the Prophet of Islam and I respect and follow all of the good leaders of Islam here and abroad.

He began to question me about the current circumstances regarding the airplane attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9-11-01. I told him it was unfortunate and sad that things had come to this dire extreme in world affairs where American citizens are harmed and slaughtered in such numbers. I told him it seemed to me that the terror attacks on 9-11 were related to the American foreign policy regarding the Muslim world. I shifted our brief talk back to the history of Islam in American prisons. I told him I wrote a book on this history and hoped to have it published in the near future. He said he would like to review the book and that he might be able to help me get the book published.

I gave him permission to review the unfinished, unedited transcript of my book. Over the next few days Barrett called me regularly getting fills for the article. He asked if he could send a photographer to take photos for the paper and I acceded to this. In his calls he assured me that his editors were very pleased with the development of the article and that I would be pleased with the outcome. He told me about his calls to the Otisville Federal Prison where I worked and his inquiries with the Warden. He said he asked to come into the prison and attend my services for the Muslim inmates. I told him this was acceptable to me and that I had discussed the matter with the Muslim inmates and they approved. He told me the Warden denied him. I did meet with the warden during one of my subsequent visits to the prison and the Warden told me the reporter from the Wall Street Journal was trying to trash me and that he refused to allow Barrett into the prison.
On Thursday Jan 30, 2003 I received a call at my home from the Associate Warden, Donna Hill. She told me my services would not be needed at the prison on Jum'ah (Friday) service the following day! When I inquired as to why my scheduled service was cancelled she told me I would have to call the Warden the next day to find out. The following day I did indeed call the Warden. He refused to talk with me.
Paul Barrett continued to call and e-mail me during the days before the release of the article to assure me that everything was going well. On the evening of our meeting at the hotel he requested a photo of me to be used as a line sketch for the front page of the Wall Street Journal. I remember vividly his words of encouragement and enticement. "When you make the front page of the Wall Street Journal, you've made it." Of course he was talking about his byline and his creative sensational article that would get him rave reviews and global journalistic recognition. He used the hope and opportunity to publish my book as a carrot and a guise to maintain my cooperation. He even gave me a copy of his book, The Good Black: A True Story of Race in America. How ironic. "The Good Black" is a true account of racial discrimination in corporate America. It ís a book about an African American who went from the projects in Queens, New York to Harvard Law School to the law offices of a top "blue chip" Chicago law firm where law partners are paid $500,000 a year. According to Barrett's book "The Good Black", Larry Mungen, did what he thought was 'playing by all the rules'. He did everything he could to be unthreatening and 'white-like' to fit in among whites in his pursuit of a much-desired partnership in the white law firm. He abandoned his black friends and disregarded them as backers. Still, being a good black wasn't enough for them to accept him in their "club". Larry Mungen hired a Black law firm to sue his employer. His employer responded with a powerful defense, "the best defense money could buy", according to the book. Mungen lost his case.

Barrett's book is very supportive of the Black man. He wrote against bigotry and bias and unfairness in America. His book is a sympathetic rendering that would make anyone think the writer is a non-biased, non-racist friend of minorities. Apparently Barrett's intention was to make me feel he supported me as a Black man also coming up from the poorest conditions of America. The difference? I am a Muslim after 9-11-01! On Monday Feb. 3rd Barrett called to tell me ABC had requested a taped interview with me and asked if I could hold off on the interview until the Wall Street Journal article was released on the coming Wednesday. I began to suspect there was something else going on here but I was already on the slippery slope. I couldn't turn this around and I couldn't stop myself from sliding into this. What was going to happen, was going to happen. Barrett expressed surprise when I told him I was denied entry to the Otisville prison. I asked him, "What did you say to Warden Menafee? I think you spooked him." I told him of my occasion at the prison when the warden told me Paul Barrett was trying to trash me and the warden didn't want his prison involved in any type of negative news. I began to recognize Barrett's words as lies but I didn't imagine the extent of the fabrication of what was to come. The following Tuesday Feb. 4, 2003 I received a faxed letter of termination from my employment at the Otisville Federal Prison. The reason for my termination: "For convenience of government." The following day the Wall Street Journal article was published. I had previously agreed to the ABC interview and traveled to New York City on Feb. 5th to the ABC television studios. When I arrived at the Amtrac station I purchased The Wall Street Journal and there I was, line sketched on the front page with the five blazing headlines:

Captive Audience
How A Chaplain Spread Extremism To an Inmate Flock
Radical New York Imam Chose Clerics for State Prisons
Praise for 9/11 'Martyrs'
Saudi Arabia's Helping Hand

The article was devastating and sensational. There were seven full-page columns, one line sketch, three photos, one graph of inmate population numbers and one map of New York State prisons. This appeared to be well researched and purposefully intentional. This was not an article to inform the public. This was an article to influence public opinion and affect government policy. This was pure propaganda. At first I wasn't aware of the impact. When I called home my wife told me the News media were at our door and waiting outside our home. She was upset to say the least. My children couldn't understand what was going on. My suburban neighbors were very concerned. My colleagues ran for cover. My pending contracts and volunteer works were immediately stopped. My income was cut. The next day, George Pataki, the Governor of New York State came out against me by name and had his Commissioner ban me from all prisons in New York. He called for an investigation. Charles Schumer, the United States Senator from the floor of Congress berated me by name calling me an extreme Wahhabi. He accused me of outrageous acts against the U.S. government, of maintaining a history of anti-Americanism, and pro-terrorist radicalism. He called for all Muslim Chaplains associated with me to be fired. The Albany Times Union newspaper editorial called for the hiring of Shi'ite Muslim Chaplains in the state prisons. This was big news, no doubt! This showed the link between media, politicians and executive government.

I was embarrassed that I had allowed myself to be entrapped. I was duped, completely caught off guard. I felt betrayed. I felt raped. My mind is the mind of a researcher, and a student of knowledge and my heart is the heart of a soldier. I don't mind contention. I admittedly join struggles for righteous causes. But I wasn't in struggle mode. I was peacefully retired. My sense of justice and fair play had been violated. This was a concocted, creative series of lies on me, on my career work, on my fellow employees and my family. This was a sneak attack! These were false charges and everyone who knew me over the years knew the claims against me were baseless. I called on my Lord for patience. I was simply shocked during the early days of this event. At first I refused to talk to the media who were at my door. When I arrived home from New York City the news teams were waiting for me. They wanted a response. I was not prepared for this. I went on Fox News unprepared for the limited time to try to explain my side. It was a disaster. Fred Dicker of the New York Post called for an over-the-phone interview. Every news station wanted their share of this story. Donahue called and invited me on his show. Bill O'Reilly wanted to tear me apart on his show. Curtis and Kuby were bantering the story back and forth on their show. It took a whole week before I could go on the 6 O'clock news with a clear head to begin to fight this battle. In my younger days I was a co-counsel with the well-known civil rights lawyer William M. Kunstler. I decided to defend myself as my own lawyer in a case of notoriety against me during the civil rights movement of the late 60's and early 70's. I had high respect for the late Bill Kunstler. I last met with him in New York City's Greenwich Village after the trial of El Sayyid Nosair, the accused killer of radical Rabbi Meir Kahani, former leader of the Jewish Defense League. Kunstler was the mentor of Ronald Kuby who had gained recognition as a lawyer and talk show host in New York City. I called Ron Kuby and he agreed to take my case pro bono. I began to refer the media to my attorney. Ron advised me on which media to talk to and which ones to stay away from. He summoned me to his offices in NYC to get background on the case and begin our defense strategy. Ron told me early on that he would take my case without pay and begin the suits but that he would not go all the way and follow up on the extensive needs of a case of this magnitude. I was thankful for him being up front with me about his intentions. It became easy for me to switch attorneys when I was referred to lawyer Stanley L. Cohen by the Majlis Shurah (Islamic Council) in New York City.

Who is Paul M. Barrett?
Paul M. Barrett holds a law degree from Harvard University. He is the legal editor at the Wall Street Journal. He was nominated for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for reporting. He didn't win the prize and is driven to gain recognition and notoriety. He is author of the 1999 book The Good Black: A True Story of Race in America. Paul M. Barrett is the Page One Special Projects Editor for the Wall Street Journal. His number one assignment for 2003: Produce an emotionally charged sensational article to smear Islamic workers in America's prisons, in order to impede, slow down or destroy the Islamic propagation and 'recruiting' efforts in American jails and prisons.

Why? The Answers: America is in a war with certain factions of the Muslim world. The Muslim population in free America is 2%. The Muslim population in American prisons is 20%! The prison Muslim population is almost totally made up of converts to Islam. The overwhelming majority is African American with some Hispanic inmates. Government officials view prisoners as radical individuals. Government officials fear the potential for radical Muslims re-entering society from prison. The New York State Department of Correctional Services prison system has the most advanced and most successful Islamic services program. New York State has more Muslim Chaplains than any ten states together and more Muslim inmates and a higher rate of conversion to Islam. Imam Umar is viewed as a pioneer in this work and mainly responsible for this high level of development in New York.
How was Barrett to accomplish this task? The Answer: Find "The Man On The White Horse". Corporate leaders, political heads and motivational speakers know the concept of the man on the white horse. They say in every successful organization or social system there is an influential leader. There is one who is more dedicated, motivated and passionate about the development of the operation. The one person whose intensity of mind and purpose makes him the mover, whose energy and electricity makes him outstanding in his field of endeavor. Find the one with the vision to shape the building of the system at hand. He will be the 24 hour man. He will be the one who eats and sleeps and breathes the work at hand. Find him, get his confidence and then discredit him. Invalidate him and invalidate his work history. If you are successful you can halt the progress of the operation and possibly demolish it by undermining those who continue to be a part of it. This is the thinking of counter-revolution. This is psychological warfare. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Today critical scrutiny and attention is paid to Muslim Chaplains around America and Muslim inmates are strictly incapacitated.
This was Paul M. Barrett's assignment from the Wall Street Journal. When he inquired, he was told "the man on the white horse" retired nearly three years ago and was only partially active and somewhat involved in Islamic propagation and social work. Paul M. Barrett sought out Imam Warith Deen Umar.

Where did it all start?
We need to go back to July 2002 to find the seminal development of the concern and propaganda against Islam in American jails and prisons. It was Cal Thomas, writer, syndicated columnist and After Hours host for Fox News, who wrote an article. His column laid the foundation for the movement against the growing influence of the religion of Islam in American prisons. His article is presented as such:

Cal Thomas | Terrorist recruiting
Scouting American prisons

The article begins, "The mail brings a letter from a self-identified African American prison inmate (several of the same type have arrived since Sept. 11). He predicts Islam will take over the world and America's days are numbered. This man is one of many converts to radical Islam under a program indirectly funded by Saudi Arabian money."
Thomas goes on to make serious erroneous claims that Muslim organizations here are "up to no good". He makes the unsubstantiated points that "radical Islamic clerics, trained by Saudi Arabia, are converting large numbers of African American inmates not only to their religion, but to their political objectives, including virulent anti-Americanism." The article uses the so-called legitimacy of the Christian clergy to "report" the findings of Prison Fellowship Chairman, Chuck Colson. Thomas says, "Mr. Colson thinks such inmates could serve the radicals as terrorists once they are released, murdering their own countrymen in a kind of 'payback' for perceived injustices done to them by white America." Cal Thomas calls for Wardens to issue guidelines that bar Muslim clergy from prisons by labeling them "radical Islamists". He says, "While the government is at it, a serious investigation should be conducted into the proliferation of Islamic front groups in this country." This article is a perfect example of how to use innuendo, insinuation, covert suggestion and outright lies to initiate fear and provide a foundation for acceptance of future government policy and social direction. Thomas ends his article with the reality that "This is war." It should be frightening to American citizens that media, government and politicians appear to hold to the idea that "all's fair in love and war."

2003-09-10 Wed 19:09ct