No Justice in USAl-Moayyed sentenced to 75 years in jail [Archives:2005/864/Front Page]

August 1 2005

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
SANA'A- Yemenis and non-Yemenis were stunned at the U.S. Brooklyn Court's verdict, under which Sheikh Mohammad al-Maoyyed was sentenced on Thursday July 28, to 75 years in prison and was also fined a sum of $ 1.25 million.

The victim was accused of funneling money to al-Qaida Network, and supporting the Palestinian Muslim Resistance Movement, Hamas. The verdict, called “unfair” was strongly denounced by Yemenis, westerners and U.S. human rights activists.

Hearing the sentence, al-Moayyed yelled at the court, 'What have I done to receive all these years of imprisonment? I did nothing wrong to the U.S. people. I have no intention to harm them. The U.S. people are the pioneers of liberty. I swear by God I never gave support to terrorists, as you allege.” Aren't such effective words produced by al-Moayyed enough to modify this tough ruling?

Al-Moayyed's defense team confirmed after the ruling that they didn't expect the ruling to be so harsh. They said they were shocked at the ruling and expected it to be light as the jury cleared al-Moayyed and his companion Mohammad Zaid of the charges attributed to them in previous sessions.

He was also cleared of funneling support to Hamas, which the USA considered to be a terrorist movement.

Al-Moayyed's defense team claimed that the court had committed many violations while trying al-Moayyed and his companion, and said the ruling deforms the image of the U.S. justice system. They said they have begun to appeal against the verdict demanding the court to look into the case of al-Moayyed and his companion once again. The court has adjourned the case of Mohammad Zaid, until the end of September.

The Yemen Times conducted several interviews with some of al-Moayyed's relatives and also with those interested in the case, to detect the reactions of the Yemeni people to the verdict.

Official sources at Yemen's Foreign Ministry have shown their concern over the verdict and said it was unfair. Yemen is not expected to continue their diplomatic efforts to secure the release of Sheikh al-Moayyed and his companion, said the sources.

Yemeni Foreign Minister, Dr Abu bakr al-Qirbi, confirmed in a press release that al-Moayyed's defense-advocate gave a precise description of the verdict, saying it is unfair.

Yemen has shown a good stand since the beginning and objected to the handover of Sheikh al-Moayyed and his companion to the U.S. authorities, said Yemen's Foreign Minister, emphasizing that political efforts will be exerted to take case-related procedures to the right track.

The Islah's Shura Council of which Sheikh Mohammad al-Moayyed is a member confirmed in a statement that all its members were astonished by the verdict issued against an old man.

According to the statement, the verdict is unfair and does not convey a good impression of the U.S. judiciary, which has been famous for its integrity.

The statement urged Yemen's President to take action to secure the release of Sheikh Mohammad al-Moayyed and this companion Mohammad Zaid, as both are innocent Yemeni citizens who were betrayed in an illegal way, contrary to the international conventions.

HOOD, a human rights organization stressed in a press release that it was astonished at Brooklyn Court's verdict sentencing the 75-year- old man to 75 years in jail and said it would harm the image of the U.S. judiciary.

The organization expressed concern over trying al-Moayyed on charges that he didn't commit, and unfairly linking his case with 9/11 events. It was stunned that al-Moayyed was convicted of supporting al-Qaida Network even though the jury had cleared him.

Hood demanded the U.S. authorities to abstain from playing the role of an international policeman on behalf of Israel by indicting al-Moayyed and his companion with charges of channeling material support to Hamas. In a statement, HOOD called on the international community to oppose the U.S. illegal actions and bar their extension abroad.

In a telephone call al-Moayyed's son, Zakaria, shouted that the verdict was harsh and unfair. He added the verdict was not based on evidence to convict his father and emphasized that his father hates terrorism and has been confirming that terrorism contradicts the teachings of Islam. His charitable works for the poor aim to fight terrorism since, according to him terrorism is the main cause of terror.

Zakaria claimed that his father should receive humanitarian treatment because he is an aging man and suffers from several diseases, and that the U.S. Government should allow him to contact with his father.

He hoped the impending verdict of appeal on the case should be looked into with justice and mercy, particularly as his father is not a terrorist and never encourages or supports terror; and requested the Yemeni Government to take action to secure the release of his old father.

Sheikh Mohammad Ali al-Moayyed was born in 1948, in the village of Bihran, Khawlan District, to the east of Sana'a. At the age of six he moved to Sana'a, joined the Orphans School and obtained the preparatory school certificate. He got his high school certificate at Jamal Abdunnaser School and then joined the Department of Islamic Education at Sana'a University.

After his graduation, Sheikh Mohammad al-Moayyed worked at the Ministry of Endowments and Guidance and occupied several posts: a general manager for preaching and guidance and an adviser to the Ministry of Endowments and Guidance.

Sheikh al-Moayyed pursued charitable work, established a mosque, a school and a hostel for the orphans in al-Asbahi Area, south of the capital. His center carries the name of “al-Ehsan Charitable Center, which proved to be a success in helping the poor and the orphans. Around 800 families have been benefiting from al-Moayyed's charitable works.

Sheikh Mohammad al-Moayyed founded several bakeries, which distribute bread for free to the needy and poor, and he also helped the Yemeni youth to get married through staging massive wedding parties. One of the wedding parties sponsored by Sheikh Mohammad was alleged to support the Palestinian resistance and the U.S. judiciary showed this wedding party footage as an evidence for al- Moayyed's support of terrorism.

Sheikh al-Moayyed was detained when Mohammad al-Ansi, a businessman who lost his business and money, deceived him. Mohammad al-Ansi is a staunch agent for the US. Intelligence. Al-Ansi suggested that Sheikh Mohammad al-Moayyed could travel to receive treatment abroad at his expense. When he refused to take this advice, cunning al-Ansi deceived him by saying there was a famous Muslim benevolent who would support his center with $25million, adding that the benevolent wanted to meet him.

Both agreed to meet this alleged Muslim benevolent in the German city of Frankfurt. In January 2003, Sheikh al-Moayyed traveled to Frankfurt to be detained by the German security authorities. He was first investigated in Germany and the U.S. Authorities demanded that he should be tried at their court for supporting terrorism.

The German Government accused Sheikh Mohammad al-Moayyed and his companion Mohammad Zaid of supporting the Palestinian Muslim Resistance Movement, Hamas, and funneling $20 million to Bin Ladden to launch terrorist attacks.

In March 2003, the German court started to look into the case of al-Moayyed and his companion after the U.S. handed them an indictment against al-Moayyed.

The U.S. authorities exerted pressure on Germany to hand them Sheikh al-Moayyed to be tried there while the Yemeni Governorate demanded Germany to extradite him to Yemen, being a Yemeni national who should be tried according to the Yemeni law.

After a series of negotiations between Germany and the U.S. over his extradition, Sheikh Mohammad al-Moayyed was then transferred along with his companion to the U.S. to be investigated and tried there. Last Thursday, a verdict was issued by a U.S. court sentencing al-Moayyed to 75 years in jail.

Observers hold the view such a verdict will not boost ties between Yemen and the U.S.A., particularly in the joint cooperation for fighting terror. They were of the view that the U.S.A. was supposed to respect Yemen and hand them the two victims to be tried in compliance with the Yemeni constitution. The U.S. was supposed to present any evidence convicting al-Moayyed of supporting terror to the Yemeni authorities, mainly as Yemen is considered one of the leading Arab countries in the fight against terror and has tried many suspects on terrorist charges.

Yemeni people bear in mind that the verdict against Sheikh al-Moayyed left a bad impression because it violated the Yemeni constitution. They hold the view that Yemen offered numerous concessions to the U.S. in the area of combating terror, and moreover the latter never showed any respect to the former by extraditing the victims to their country.