If the atmosphere in the US Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis around the Somali young men, Abdirahman Daud, Guled Omar, and Mohamed Farah, on trial and accused of providing material support to terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder is any indication, they don’t have a chance. Presiding Judge Michael Davis, the FBI, Homeland Security and US Marshalls have shown, the youths family, supporters and the Somali community nothing but disrespect. Supporters have faced constant harassment for the most minor of things, even to the point of being arrested and thrown out of court.
Today the sister of Abdi Warsame, Sahra Warsame who was testifying on behalf of the government was thrown down and arrested after arguing with her mother. Imagine that he is cooperating and the authorities can’t treat his family with dignity. And a friend of one of the defendants who was simply attending the trial Burhan Mohumed, was tossed out of court for “having an attitude” according to Judge Michael Davis. Tensions are high among the families of those on trial and those cooperating with the government because all of the informing has created understandable ill will among Somali community members.
Of course it could be said that is part of the intent of this very political “show trial”; to drive a wedge between fellow Somali’s and the Somali community in general, while serving as scapegoats for fear mongering.
Burhan had tried to intervene in a dispute so that the Federal Marshalls wouldn’t have to. In an unusual move, Davis had Burhan brought before him and tossed him, because according to the Federal Marshalls and undercover FBI Terrorist task force he had been told to turn off his phone too many times. Davis actually threatened Burhan with arrest for contempt of court.
The truth is Burhan does have an attitude, he like me and others attending the trial don’t like that the US government is trying to railroad a group of young men to jail for the rest of their lives primarily because they are Muslim, black and immigrant. He doesn’t like the disrespect his people and his friends have experienced, while attending the trial. and he intervened on at least two occasions to defend his brothers. And he voiced his opinion about the disrespect and harassment. That is the real reason he was put out!
Contempt would better describe Davis and the US government, that has treated the defendant’s family, community and supporters with as much of it as they could muster. When not showing contempt, Davis and the armed bodies of men and women in the federal courthouse have displayed a patronizing and condescending attitude toward the Somali’s in attendance.
Family friends and supporters are met at the Federal Courthouse with hostility by armed Homeland Security guards and dogs in the lobby. Supporters and friends are made to feel like criminals and were subjected to rules that wouldn’t allow people to come back into the courtroom if they left to go to the bathroom. Supporters are watched while sitting in the courtroom and the overflow courtroom, as if they are potential terrorists. In the courtroom sit eight armed men including, six US Marshalls and two baliffs and there are at least another six to seven armed FBI agents and other government agents in the courtroom.
The atmosphere is one likened to a prison in which the idea is to criminalize and dehumanize those who visit their loved ones.
Judge Davis has embarrassed himself and his craft with his obvious effort to support the government’s case. He issued contradictory and sometimes arbitrary orders. One day people could stand in the lobby, the next day they can’t. One Somali youth was kicked out because he stretched his arms out over an empty section. Another was put out because he went to another floor in the building to charge his phone. Yet another was put out of the courthouse by the FBI because according to the “friendly” agent he and the FBI have had a previous encounter.
And Davis has intervened on the prosecution’s behalf as if he is trying to help them make their case. He seems also to be very interested in the young people whose names come up that aren’t at trial as if he is building a case for his countering violent extremism effort.
What is actually on display in that courthouse is the ability of the US government to bully and disrespect those who disagree with them. The government’s case is weak but this isn’t a trial, this is propaganda designed to convince the US population that it is under threat by its Islamic neighbors, so that the feds can continue justifying spending your tax dollars on military defense and so-called homeland security.