"Rounded Up" Review by a senior NASA engineer
A Muslim’s Quest for Justice for His People in America
Review of the book Rounded Up by Dr. Shamshad Ahmad
by Kaleem Kawaja
Rounded Up: Artificial Terrorists and Muslim Entrapment After 9/11
Published 2009 by Troy Book Makers, Troy, New York
“I invite you to think: There are six million Muslims in US and almost eight years have gone by since 9/11, and yet not a single Muslim terrorist has ever been found here. We are not terrorists. We are part of this society; we share its concerns and want to share in its success and prosperity.”
–– Dr. Shamshad Ahmad, President, Masjid As-Salam mosque, Albany, New York
In the dark days after the horrible Al Qaeda terrorist attack on 9/11/01 on New York and Washington DC, the anti-Muslim forces in US received a shot in the arm as they intensified the harassment of the six million American Muslims. The Al Qaeda attack was organized entirely by the awful terrorists who lived overseas, and who had absolutely no support from any Muslims living in US. Yet the then US security forces were bent on finding scapegoats from among American Muslims to prove that some of them were part of a terrorist conspiracy.
These overzealous law & order authorities infiltrated their spies and conducted entrapment exercises in many mosques in a variety of cities in US, often manipulating fabricated evidence on the mosques and centers inhabited by the ill educated and poor segments of the Muslim community. The Muslim community of the Masjid As-Salam mosque in the lower middleclass neighborhood of downtown Albany, the capital city of the illustrious state of New York, experienced one such saga between August 2004 and March 2008.
This store-front mosque was established in December 1999, in a run-down building on Central Avenue in downtown Albany, New York, by Dr. Shamshad Ahmad, a professor of Physics at the State University of New York, Albany, NY. Dr. Shamshad Ahmad is originally from Bandi Kalan, Azamgarh, India; he studied at Shibli National College, Azamgarh, acquired MPhil (Physics) degree from Aligarh Muslim University, and PhD (Physics) degree from the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. He joined the Physics Department of the State University of New York in 1979, where he is a professor now.
This book is a meticulous account of the saga experienced by the community of the Masjid as-Salam, written from Dr. Ahmad’s insider’s perspective as the president of the mosque. It gives a comprehensive account of the sting operation that entrapped the mosque’s community, especially the two accused men, Yassin Aref (an immigrant from Iraq)––the mosque’s Imam; and Mohammad Hossain (an immigrant from Bangladesh)––a senior member of the mosque, with fabricated evidence. The book goes into the many details of the FBI investigation, court procedures, lawyer-accused interfaces, media frenzy, the political exploitation of the situation, the verdict of the lower court and that of the Appeals Court.
The FBI conducted a raid on the said mosque and arrested the above named members of the mosque in August 2004, on charges of being accessory to a conspiracy to support acts of terrorism. As FBI, courts and other law enforcement agencies of the government became involved, the case unfolded involving Albany’s larger Muslim community and indeed a large segment of the non-Muslim White-American community.
The most interesting fact about this case is the very substantial extent to which Albany’s middleclass White-American community participated in defending the hapless poor accused individuals, their families and their low income community. In October 2007 soon after the first court verdict convicting the accused, these upright folks comprising of lawyers, academics, journalists, professionals, intellectuals, humanitarian activists, labor & religious activists, civil liberties groups and
mainstream newspapers, formed a Muslim Solidarity Committee to defend the accused in this miscarriage of justice.
Indeed the active participation of the Muslim Solidarity Community from the mainstream community of Albany is testimony that the common American people are fair and justice oriented, and do take a stand when their government runs a rough shod system of justice on any one, including the beleaguered American Muslim community, that was much maligned by the media as a result of the horrible 9/11 terrorist attack.
Dr. Shamshad Ahmad’s fast paced and dramatic account reading like a crime mystery novel provides a comprehensive window on the typical behavior patterns of the largely immigrant, ill educated and religious Muslim community in America. Their very informal and careless behavior patterns in dealing with sophisticated government agencies and their own lawyers, that put the accused individuals, their families and community in a lot of jeopardy, has been brought out very well by the author in a very candid manner.
Another important fact that the author has brought out in the open is the extent to which the Muslim community in US is cut off and isolated from mainstream Americans, and the minimal interface they have with other Americans, most of whom are their well wishers.
The book also brings out the very admirable deep commitment of Dr. Shamshad Ahmad, his extended family and friends and members of his mosque, towards the cause of seeking justice for the accused poor Muslims, often at the cost of their own safety, careers and future in a country where anti-Muslim forces are well entrenched in media, and political and governmental circles.
This book is a must-read for all who are interested in learning a first hand account of the hysteria that prevailed in the otherwise efficient law
enforcement agencies in US, who were driven by extreme frustration in not being able to find the culprits and sources that perpetrated the 9/11
terrorist attack. The book also provides a graphical account of the extent
to which the 9/11 terrorist attack has transformed the character of the
American society from its earlier very relaxed, tolerant and objective
Kaleem Kawaja is a senior NASA engineer, and originally posted this review on a Yahoo newsgroup list.