1995 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security

                   American Muslim Council



               AZIZAH Y. AL-HIBRI, J.D., Ph.D.

                   NATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD

                   AMERICAN MUSLIM COUNCIL



                          OF 1995"





                        JUNE 13, 1995

Dr. Azizah al-Hibri

June 13,1995

     Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the House

Judiciary Committee for allowing me to speak on the

"Comprehensive Anti terrorism Act of 1995". I speak on

behalf of the American Muslim Council. I would like to note

that this testimony is of historical significance to the

American Muslim community. It represents that first time

ever that Mu slims, qua Muslims, have been invited, since

they have been present in America at least since the 16th


     Speaking of behalf of no less than six million American

Mu slims, I would like to join our fellow Americans in

expressing support for measures that would protect this

country and its citizens from the threat of terrorism and

all other forms of violence. We also join other fellow

Americans in demanding that these measures be reasonable,

appropriate and not over-board, in order not to run afoul of

the fundamental constitutional guarantees that have made

this country so great.

     The specter of terrorism and violence in their myriad

forms and sources haunts all of us. Any one could become its

unwitting victim. Unfortunately, however, we American Mu

slims know this fact only too well. In the emotionally

charged days that followed the Oklahoma bombing, Muslim

Americans all over the country suffered doubly and

intensely. Like their compatriots, they agonized over the

senseless death of the Oklahoma victims, but unlike their

compatriots, they were denied the opportunity to mourn in


     Instead, they were immediately viewed as suspect. They

were subjected to both official and unofficial acts of

harassment, intimidation and discrimination. These acts

included detention and interrogation of Mu slims by law

enforcement officials, media broadcasts of opinions by

so-called "experts" which conflated the latter's political

views with a negative stereotype of Islam, individual scorn

and even mob reprisal attacks. One such mob stoned a Muslim

house. As a result, baby "Salam", carried by his mother

almost to full term, died. He is thus another innocent

victim of the Oklahoma bombing.

     For a full 60 hours, our community was denied its most

basic constitutional rights by being presumed, and even

declared by some, guilty collectively until proven innocent.

Some Mu slims were afraid to go to work. Even young children

feared going to school because of unrelenting attacks, 

accusations and other expressions of hostility by their

classmates. These children too are secondary victims of the

Oklahoma bombing.

     This is truly unfortunate in a country which prides

itself on its religious tolerance. Islam after all is a

world religion with over a billion followers. Islam has

inspired some of the world's greatest civilizations-~that

actually contributed, directly or indirectly, to our

American civilization today. It is also one of the three

Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. In

particular, Islam is a religion which says that the killing

of a single innocent person is tantamount to the killing of

all of humanity. It is a religion which recognized not only

human rights but animal rights and environmental concerns

fourteen hundred years before these matters became


     It is therefore with great sorrow that Mu slims witness

the daily misrepresentation of their religion, the silencing

of their voices and the erosion of their civil rights. We

are finally speaking out because we think it patently unfair

to brand a whole religion by the actions of a few, just as

it is patently unfair to judge Christianity by the

Inquisition, Judaism by Jewish extremist groups, or the

worth of a person by the color of the skin. We, Mu slims,

Christians and Jews in these United States stand for the

proposition that the era of religious strife is a bygone era

and that our day is the day of interfaith dialogue based on

mutual respect, equality and justice. let not those who live

in the past succeed in destroying our promising American


     H.R.1710, the anti terrorism bill, has been proposed

against the backdrop of prejudice and hostility we

described. This fact concerns us because it can infect the

final form and use of the bill. Yet while there are many

problematic provisions in the bill, given its accelerated

status, we have no choice but to focus your attention on

only two sections. These sections involve the use of secret

evidence in alien removal proceedings and the imposition of

fund raising limitations. Each provision presents serious

constitutional concerns.

The Use of Secret Evidence in Alien Removal Proceedings

     Under this bill, the Immigration and Naturalization

Service ("INS") would be permitted to use undisclosed secret

evidence to deport aliens who are merely accused of engaging

in or supporting terrorist activities. The INS would create

a special court and permit the government to introduce

secret evidence to the court proceedings. The bill allows

for the creation of a panel of attorneys with security

clearances to review in camera evidence and challenge its

validity on behalf of the accused. The problem, however, is

that these attorneys cannot be chosen by the accused, nor

can they disclose to her or her counsel the evidence they

have reviewed. We find it extremely unlikely that a proper

defense can be prepared when an attorney cannot release to

her client the evidence against her. This procedure simply

denies an alien her right to due process, one of the most

basic and highly cherished American legal rights.

     Additionally, the bill provides that if an alien is

deemed a risk to national security or if she is regarded as

one who would harm another person, then no summary would be

provided. While the contemplated threat in this case is

significant, it must still be balanced against the right of

the accused for an effective defense; for in this country we

have the presumption of innocence deeply ingrained in our

legal system.

     In our rush to protect ourselves from terrorism, let us

not trample on our principles. As Benjamin Franklin said,

"They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little

temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." We

urge that if classified information is involved, then the

alien be always provided with at least an adequate summary

of the evidence, regardless of the nature of the charges.

This way, she could have some possibility of an effective


Fund raising

     This provision is troublesome because it permits

political factors to be injected in decisions involving the

constitutional rights of American citizens. It gives the

President the ability to designate, with no effective

recourse, certain groups as terrorist. We have already seen

how much the attitude towards various political groups

around the world can be influenced by the political views of

the American Administration that is in office at the time.

Several groups have already been elevated from a pariah

status, simply because the present American Administration

changed its position on certain policy matters or reached a

political understanding with these groups. This is to some

extent quite legitimate; but we do need to keep in mind that

the President is more susceptible to political pressure by

special-interest groups than, for example, the courts.

Perhaps we should therefore de-politicize this matter by

placing the power to designate with the judiciary or at

least giving the Judiciary power to review the fairness of

such presidential designation. Otherwise, the procedure for

designation as it presently stands is so flawed that it

invites serious abuse of power. This could lead in turn to a

restriction on legitimate fund-raising for humanitarian


     For example many Muslim Good Samaritans and many Muslim

charitable organizations in the United States (like their

Christian and Jewish counterparts) donate funds to help

those who are less fortunate or who have been ravaged by war

and/or hunger. These include, for example, wounded civilians

or orphaned children in Bosnia, Kashmir, Afghanistan and

Somalia. These areas have been engulfed in conflict and

turmoil recently, but while their political picture 

changes almost daily, the suffering of their innocent

remains constant. Under this fund raising provision, the

Good Samaritans and charitable organizations are criminally

prosecutable if the President decides to designate a

hospital receiving their donations as a terrorist affiliated

hospital. The designation may be based on a tenuous belief

that the hospital treats a large number of individuals who

are members of a politically disfavored group and on an even

more tenuous conclusion that the hospital therefore engages

in activity that threatens the national security of the

United States. Nevertheless, the bill does not provide an

adequate mechanism to contest this designation. As a result,

the poor, elderly, the sick and hungry, all go without

further assistance, and the Good Samaritan or charitable

organization face criminal charges!

     Our concern is that this section of the bill will be

used and will be effective not in preventing terrorism - but

in preventing fund raising for political viewpoints that are

unpopular. This is antithetical to our American democratic

values and our American system of justice.

     We do not believe that a box of Band-Aids, penicillin,

prescription drugs or medical equipment can be equated with

aiding and abetting terrorism. We have heard the argument

over and over again from the Administration and the State

Department that money is fungible. We agree. However, in the

absence of convincing proof that the funds are being used to

support terrorism, lawful humanitarian activities should not

be criminalized. Again, let not our fear smother our

humanitarian principles. For, what is a man profited if he

gains the whole world and loses his own soul?

     We urge you therefore to eliminate this very

controversial provision from the bill altogether. It

violates the First Amendment right of association. Indeed,

we believe that a court of law is likely to find such a

provision unconstitutional.

Thank you.