Lawyers for Yassin Aref and Mohammad Hossain (aka the Moussed Mujahideen) have filed an appeal on their conviction, and continue to receive ample assists from local and national media. Aref, frequently described as a "refugee,"* and Hossain, described as a "mosque leader," were convicted in October 2006 on conspiracy and money laundering charges after a government informant convinced the men to assist him in a plot to murder a Pakistani diplomat.
The New York Times (unavailable online) predictably implies entrapment:
Two mosque leaders convicted after being caught in a 2004 F.B.I. sting involving a fictional terror strike have filed court papers asking a judge to set aside the verdicts or grant them new trials.
In the defense motion filed this week ahead of sentencing in February, attorneys argue that the jury didn't understand that Aref supposedly didn't understand the informant's requests for money laundering services. Get it?
"Yassin Aref never understood that the loan was intended to launder money, or to 'legalize money,' thus he never understood that his witnessing the loan could in any way aid (the informant) in violating the law," Kindlon wrote in his motion. "Mr. Aref never had any intent to aid JEM ... there is a complete lack of proof that he understood any connection between his witnessing the loan, and (the informant's) discussions of helping JEM."
However, during the trial, Aref admitted to and was proven to have been a member of Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (IMK), a radical Sunni Islamist group headed by Mullah Krekar before Krekar establish Ansar al-Islam. This connection is never fully described in media reports. Quite often what you read are non-sequitors like this from this regional paper:
On Aug. 5, 2004, Mohammed Hossain, another of the mosque’s founders, and Yassin Aref, the mosque’s imam, were arrested after a yearlong FBI sting. Hossain is being tried for 27 counts including money laundering and knowingly providing aid to terrorist groups. Aref faces the same 27 charges, as well as three other counts. These allege that Aref lied about his affiliation with the political group Islamic Movement of Kurdistan and that he also lied about his knowing Mullah Krekar, the founder of Ansar Al-Islam, a U.S.-designated terrorist group.
Aref worked in the Syria-based offices of the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (IMK) in the 1990s. It's possible that he was the janitor or baby-sitter at the IMK office; however, it's far more probable that he had a more significant position and was familiar with the group's recruitment and fund-raising efforts. IMK was funded with money from Gulf-based donors and other sources. It would be naive to believe Aref had never heard or understood the concept of money laundering before 2004.
That said it was the discovery of his name in address books and contact lists found at several terrorist training camps (described in the Albany Times Union as "encampments," as if they were legitimate military facilities) -- including Zarqawi's Kurmal poison-training facility -- that caught the attention of American authorities after the invasion of Iraq.
Meanwhile, Aref's admitted connections to Kurdish terrorists are frequently downplayed, like this howler from the AP:
Aref, a 36-year-old Kurdish refugee from northern Iraq, was also found guilty of lying to FBI agents about having known Mullah Krekar, a suspected terrorist leader.
I guess Al-P doesn't want to prejudge Krekar, after all, he's a refugee*, too.
*The word as it's used here is pure liberal pathos, connoting a generalized victimhood for foreigners and providing the mental picture of "huddle masses yearning to breathe free." In reality, it's more often used as a legal loophole by foreigners who want an easy-in to Western countries like the US and Canada, and sometimes terrorist use "refugee" status as a way to infiltrate Western countries.