Congressman Jim McDermott’s Support For Convicted Terrorist Mohiuddin AKM Ahmed

Last week I wrote a brief post about Congressman Jim McDermott’s introduction of a private bill, H.R. 2181, that aims to give a green card to convicted terrorist Mohiuddin AKM Ahmed. Today the leading Bangladeshi English language newspaper, The Daily Star, published an op-ed written by me about Congressman McDermott’s private bill.

The op-ed is reprinted below:


Congressman McDermott’s support for Mohiuddin
Mashuqur Rahman

On May 31, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued the mandate that ended convicted killer AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed’s asylum appeals and made him deportable from the United States. However, the long saga has moved from the courts to the political arena after a congressman introduced a private bill to issue Mohiuddin a green card.

The rationale presented in the bill needs discussion both in the United States and Bangladesh; and it is time to explore whether the United States government should be actively sheltering a convicted murderer.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was set to deport Mohiuddin to Bangladesh on or around June 2. However, Mohiuddin’s lawyers managed to get a temporary stay of deportation from a lower court judge until Tuesday, June 5. A US District Court judge has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday June 5 to consider a stay of deportation.

The hearing will not reconsider the asylum case since the lower court does not have jurisdiction and cannot overrule the Court of Appeals decision. Mohiuddin’s lawyers have, instead, asked the District Court to consider whether Mohiuddin could be deported while there was a private bill on his behalf pending in the US Congress.

On May 3, while the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was still considering Mohiuddin’s last petition, a Democratic congressman from Washington State, Jim McDermott, introduced a private bill in the US House Judiciary Committee on his behalf. A private bill is a rare legislative procedure in the United States used to pass a law that benefits only one person rather than a class of individuals.

Private bills are sometimes used in immigration cases by members of Congress to grant relief to individuals who, because of an unusual set of circumstances, may be facing deportation from the country. For example, they are sometimes used to give relief to family members who would otherwise be separated if one member were to be deported, causing severe hardship to the rest.

Private bills rarely become laws. To become a law, the bill must first be passed by the US House Judiciary Committee, then by the US House of Representatives, then by the US Senate, and finally must be signed into law by the president of the United States.

The private bill introduced by congressman McDermott, known as H.R. 2181, aims to help Mohiuddin in a number of ways. First, it aims to stay the deportation order against him indefinitely. Second, it aims to release him from custody and bars the DHS from deporting him to Bangladesh, or to any country that has an extradition treaty with Bangladesh.

Third, it aims to grant a green card to Mohiuddin, which would allow him to get preferential treatment before all other green card applicants from Bangladesh. It also aims to grant him the card by reducing the number of green cards available to other Bangladeshis by one. Finally, it states that Mohiuddin will be allowed to seek asylum in any foreign country of his choosing.

Congressman McDermott’s bill also makes some extraordinary "findings." The bill claims that Mohiuddin is an "innocent Bangladeshi citizen." It also claims that the Bangladesh court "erroneously convicted Mr. Ahmed of murder and sentenced him to death." It further claims that the trial and conviction are "sufficiently suspect as to warrant the immediate intervention" by the US government to prevent his deportation.

However, the claims in the bill directly contradict the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In its decision denying Mohiuddin’s petition the court wrote: "Ahmed failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that his in absentia murder trial and conviction in Bangladesh was fundamentally unfair and, thus, deprived him of due process of law. Therefore, the IJ properly relied on the conviction." Mohiuddin failed to convince the US court that his trial was unfair.

The court did not find that Mohiuddin was "erroneously convicted," or that the trial was "sufficiently suspect." It felt that it was proper to rely on the conviction in the Bangladeshi court.

Therefore, the congressman’s claim that Mohiuddin is an "innocent Bangladeshi citizen" is not supported by the facts, and is also not something that Mohiuddin was able to convince any court of.

Furthermore, the US State Department has stated that Mohiuddin"s trial — a high profile trial observed by the world community and human rights organizations — followed due process.

The bill also claims that Mohiuddin was merely manning a roadblock on August 15, 1975, and that he "had no knowledge of, nor did he support, the violent coup that erupted that night."

Again, this claim in the bill directly contradicts the 9th Circuit’s ruling. In the ruling the court wrote: "Ahmed is ineligible for asylum and withholding of removal for two reasons:

  • Because he engaged in terrorist activity,
  • Because he assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of others on account of their political opinion. Even his own account of his actions established that he assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of persons on account of their political opinion."
    Perhaps the most inexplicable part of the bill is its reference to the Indemnity Act. The bill states "…when Sheikh Hasina Wajed, daughter of the assassinated prime minister, came to power, and then broke her promise to respect the Bangladeshi constitutional amendment which provided immunity to officers involved in the 1975 coup. Rather, Sheikh Hasina Wajed orchestrated the repeal of the constitutional amendment."

The congressman, in the bill, seems to be advocating immunity for the murderers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family. It is difficult to understand why a US congressman would suggest that repealing of a grant of immunity to murderers of children and pregnant women should be called into question.

Congressman McDermott’s bill is based on false or misleading information. It claims as facts the many arguments Mohiuddin and his supporters have been publicly making, but failed to prove them in US courts of law where facts and evidence count.

By introducing the private bill, congressman McDermott has staked his reputation on the word of a convicted murderer who has been found to engage in terrorist activity by US courts of law.

At a time when the United States is engaged in a global war on terror, a Congressional intervention on behalf of an individual deemed to have engaged in terrorist activity is an extraordinary step.

Given the political sensitivity of the bill, and its awkward position within the war on terror, it is highly unlikely that the bill will ever become law. However, for Mohiuddin to get a stay of deportation the bill does not have to become law.

If the House Immigration Subcommittee takes up the bill and requests a report from the US immigration authorities, it would result in a stay of deportation. All indications are that the Subcommittee has not taken up Mohiuddin’s private bill — if it had, a stay of deportation would have already occurred.

Without such action it will be an uphill battle for Mohiuddin’s lawyers to convince the judge at Tuesday’s hearing to order a stay of deportation. It is almost a certainty that the subcommittee chairwoman will be lobbied hard on behalf of Mohiuddin in the coming days.

Having lost his asylum bid in the US courts, Mohiuddin is now appealing to American politicians to continue to evade justice. American politicians, such as congressman Jim McDermott, are now confronted with a choice between the rule of law and the word of a convicted killer.

By introducing the private bill on behalf of Mohiuddin congressman McDermott may have bought Mohiuddin a few more days of evading justice. But at what cost?

Mashuqur Rahman is a Virginia-based blogger and a member of the Drishtipat Writers’ Collective.



This entry was posted in Bangladesh, Foreign Policy, Immigration, Published Articles, Terrorism. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Congressman Jim McDermott’s Support For Convicted Terrorist Mohiuddin AKM Ahmed

  1. Kaiser Kabir says:

    An amazing piece! I hope it makes it to the electronic media in the States. Let us know your efforts to publicise it.

  2. Mash says:

    Kaiser, thanks. I hope it gets attention in the US as well. I cross posted on the Daily Kos earlier today.

    Mohiuddin has a hearing at 9:30am tomorrow on his motion on a stay of deportation at the District Court for Central California.

    Here’s the court calendar:$FILE/AMENDED%206.5.07%20GAF%20CALENDAR.pdf

  3. Asif Saleh says:

    Essentially, this is what blogging is about. Researching and finding links and references and putting it all together. Fortunately deshi blogs are slowly getting there. Most blogs are still unfortunately happy with publishing rumours, innuendos without doing much homework or research.

  4. MR. Bill says:

    I posted a link to your second Lurita Doan piece at Hullabaloo today, and recommended the Weldon story also. Hope it helps..

  5. ZaFa says:

    Nobody can argue how far reaching and effective and informative Mash’s blogging had been. Yeahee Mash…!:-”

    But can’t help but response to Asif’s comment here: “Essentially, this is what blogging is about. Researching and finding links and references and putting it all together.” 😮

    Ummmm….says who? 😕 Who gets to define what blogging should or shouldn’t be about? What you described is one form of blogging which in many ways is a citizen’s journalism, and most appreciated by the informed readers who like to have an opinion on issues.

    But I find it extremely arrogant that some people try to grade the blogging based on some set standards entirely based on their own ideas and intentions, and assume that to be the “norm”.
    So what if someone writes about rumors or their cats or some personal thoughts? :-w Nothing! As long as the author admits it’s just a rumor or suspicion or speculation or just their own views. If someone doesn’t want to read it, they do not need to come back.

    Most electronic media made room for blogs run by their correspondents, and professional journalists – for example Anderson Cooper’s 360 degree (CNN website). It is totally comprehensible that what gets published in Cooper’s blog cannot contradict TIME-WARNER’s image, and has to hold up some journalistic standards. Not necessarily so for the private blogs.

    What amuses me is that some private blog owners are under the illusion that they are running an online publication, and try to censor what gets to be published in the blog and even what comments get to be moderated. That is acceptable if the contributors know beforehand what they are getting in to and agree to that. But if the contributors are supposedly free to express their “opinion” and then asked to “curb” it because it didn’t suit the owner’s perception, then that is hypocritical. Thank god there is no monopoly as far as blogging is concerned. I enjoy Mash’s blog just as much as I enjoy Himu’s blog who writes mostly witty satire and eLeCtRiCbLuEs blog who writes these days only about his music. I for one enjoy variety. There are grave things in life that we need to addressed…but sometimes it’s just fun and necessary to let loose. \:d/

  6. Mash says:

    Mr. Bill, thanks for that. I noticed your comment at Digby’s and have been getting traffic here since then.

    I see that Lurita is being tossed to the dogs by the Bushies.

  7. Mash says:

    Asif, thanks for the word of support. I think it is important to counter spin with a little bit of research. This Mohiuddin case is a good example of how much the spin machine is working on overdrive.

    Zafa, I also enjoy an eclectic selection of blogs. Of course not all blogs write about politics or foreign policy, nor should they. I am also not beneath an occasional mindless and totally unwarranted outburst on my blog! :d

    My favorite blog has always been Jon Swift’s blog. Its a little hard to describe his writings. Its best to read it yourself:

    Jon doesnt let the facts get in the way. Yet there is more truth in his writings then most.

    Comment moderation on blogs is a tough issue to tackle. I made a decision not to moderate the comments on my blog. It can lead to some nasty comments at times, but I think even those comments are informative in a way. I know others have made different calls on comment moderation. The real problem will come if some of the new internet laws get passed that restrict free speech on blogs. Then you will see a lot of blog owners forced to moderate comments because they will be held liable for opinions of their commenters. I hope things dont move in that direction however.

    Finally, fair warning, I am blogging about the Sopranos next weekend, so there!

    Oh, and did I mention that I am a regular reader of Zafa’s blog! \:d/

  8. MR. Bill says:

    Jon Swift is a great satirist, in the mode of his namesake.. He has a way of taking conservative talking points and taking them to the point of \’reducto ad absurdum\’. A good example is his recent suggestion that a \’feminist\’s\’ proposal that age of consent for women to appear in pornography be raised to 21 ( to stop those silly girls from being in such videos as \’Girls gone Wild\’, possibly ruining their future lives…) be adopted, but the age be raised to 65. \

  9. MR. Bill says:

    And Mash, I read your blog daily, even if I have nothing intelligent to say in comments (tho that hasn’t stopped me before..)

  10. ZaFa says:

    I was holding a gun pointed to his head when Mash wrote the following:

    Oh, and did I mention that I am a regular reader of Zafa’s blog! >:)

    Mash, I loved what you said about Jon Swift blog “Jon doesn’t let the facts get in the way. Yet there is more truth in his writings then most” – enough to raise my curiosity.

    I personally don’t have any problem with moderation. I intend to moderate mine should a situation arise. I have depicted in the ‘about’ page what to expect in/from my blog.

    My problem is with a handful of highly educated, professionally successful individuals you come across in the blogsphere who can’t wait to tell you what “craps” some of the deshi bloggers are writing these days, as if there are some regulation that bloggers need to abide by. Their gigantic ego leads them to believe that their way of thinking is the only way, leaving no room for others’ views. Those who do not agree are in severe shortage of knowledge or the ability to analyze. I call them blog-bully.

  11. Robbie says:

    That’s why I keep a LiveJournal. I’ll write about just about anything, and I really mean anything. I don’t believe in specializing. Otherwise, I’d be updating three or four a day and that’s too much work.

    LJ has very good tools to take care of spam posts and trolls, too. :d

  12. Asif says:

    Calm down, Z… this is just my opinion. No need to “blog bully” me for it. 🙂

    Yes, of course, I was referring to the political blogs like Mash’s when I mentioned research to be key. You can look at, as examples of other blogs which really use this medium to the fullest. Blogs have become very powerful as a medium rivaling the print media. My comment was intended for the ones that want to be taken seriously. However, of course, I myself read lots of other specific topical blogs which are purely opinionated and non political in nature. But in case of political blogs, (again, its my opinion, don’t kill me for it ) opinions hold little value unless backed by research and publishing rumours just takes the credibility away.

    For example, Mash got contacted by Amnesty yesterday for this entry/oped. That wouldn’t have had happened unless he established his credibility with his write ups. But this is going off topic.

    But agree with you that on personal journal any body can write anything. There are millions of livejournal blogs out there. But how many do we actually know about. Perhaps its not a coincidence.

  13. Robbie says:

    I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but the blogosphere, save for precious few examples, will likely never rival the mainstream media as a credible news source.

    Until I started writing weekly (for free) for an online publication two years ago, I had no clue what a blog was. Since then, I’ve told all of my offline friends, family and coworkers to read certain blogs to get the real news. How many actually read them? None. Zip. Nada.

    That’s why I don’t like it when the “major” players in the blogosphere like Markos or John Aravosis try to act like authority figures. Most Americans don’t care or don’t know who they are.

    In fact, I’m willing to bet anyone $50 that if I were to ask someone I know offline what DailyKos was, they’d probably tell me it was medication prescribed for allergies, impotence, or to treat high blood pressure.

    Sadly, that is the importance of blogs in the grand scheme of things. That’s why I keep a journal and write about whatever is on my mind.

  14. Asif Saleh says:

    Well, Robbie. It doesn\’t take most people to swing things around in US politics. As we know from last two presidential election that if 5%/1% votes could have been swung in Ohio from one side to another, the presidency would have shifted in the other side and that\’s why mobilizing through blog makes a difference.

  15. Robbie says:

    In Ohio, it’s called minority voter suppression. The blogs still haven’t done squat about it.

  16. Douglas says:

    Ahmed\’s fate is being held by the Department of Homeland Security. If calling people terrorists is the new criteria for justice then God help us all.

  17. ZaFa says:

    Mohiuddin’s deportation is stayed till June 13. Judge Gary Feess of Central District Court California earlier issued a temporary restraining order against Homeland Security. After the June 5 hearing Judge Feesse asked Mo’s lawyer to submit a paper (in 20 pages or less) with all facts by June 8 to Congress. What’s the use with Mo’s version of the fact?The Congress will have till June 11 to issue a response.
    Mo’s lawyer argued that because a bill is pending in Congress (Legislative branch), the Homeland Security (part of the Executive Branch) should not interfere.
    Once more it’s proven that criminals get to exercise more rights than regular people. It is highly unlikely the Congress pass the bill, but it sure halts the deportation for now.

  18. ZaFa says:

    Mohiuddin’s whereabouts appeared in the Bangladeshi daily “Ittefaq”, June 8, 2007.

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