Muhammad Ismail, 45, and his son Jaber, 18, are United States citizens being held against their will in Pakistan. Not by kidnappers or by a rogue gang of terrorists, but by the U.S. government, who allege that the Ismails may be al Qaeda sympathizers. The elder Ismail is the brother of Umer Hayat of Lodi, California, who, along with his son Hamid, was accused last summer of having terrorist ties.
Special Agent Drew Parenti of the F.B.I.’s Sacramento office is responsible for the detention of the Ismails and has yet to produce evidence of wrongdoing by the father and son, other than an interrogation of the aforementioned Hamid Hayat in which Hayat stated that his cousin Jaber attended a camp in Pakistan. Defense lawyers for the Ismails say this was coerced from Hayat and is misleading, as the camp in question is involved in religious instruction, not terrorist training. Jaber Ismail maintains that his mother wanted him to study at a mosque in Pakistan in order to memorize the Qur’an, which he says he has now completed. Legitimate, peaceful ‘camps’ for religious study are common in Central and South Asia but are increasingly under scrutiny due to known terrorists having attended extremist militant ‘camps’ in the same region, particularly near the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a formal complaint with the Department of Homeland Security on August 9th stating that the Ismails are being denied their civil rights as United States citizens.
The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United States has signed, declares in Article 13:
1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Yet, since April 21, Muhammad and Jaber Ismail – neither charged with any crime – have been prevented from returning to the U.S. Authorities with the F.B.I. say this is due to the refusal of the Ismails to submit to interrogation and polygraph tests. The unconditional ‘right to remain silent’ guaranteed under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution would seem to be absent from that scenario. The ACLU holds that the Ismails are thus being compelled to waive their constitutional rights under threat of banishment. The DHS says they are currently investigating the complaint by the ACLU.
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