By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
• October 20. The 302 memo: Hossain is reported to say, "Anything you do in the name of Allah is not a sin, including killing people." The transcript: Malik is heard to ask, "What about committing jihad in the name of Allah?" Hossain answers, "Our jihad is to live a righteous life and help guide so many Muslims to the right path, stop the wrong actions, to come to the prayer. This is jihad."
• November 20. The 302 memo: The investigation reaches a critical stage. Malik reveals that he is a weapons dealer. He shows Hossain what he claims is the tube of a surface-to-air missile, which he plans to sell to people in New York for $50,000. Malik reports that Hossain responds by saying, "It was OK to kill the nonbelievers; however, it was not OK to commit suicide bombings because the Koran forbids suicide." The memo also reports that Hossain says that al-Qaeda was "good for Muslims" and that "if Muslims united, they could be the police of the entire world, not America." The transcript: When Malik invites Hossain to participate in his scheme, Hossain refuses, saying that it is illegal. He then goes on at length to say that "creating violence here or there is neither the solution nor the practice of the Prophet." He tells Malik to stay away from the people who are plotting to use the missile. Malik insists that attacking non-Muslims and killing them are his way of pleasing Allah and going to Paradise. "You have your own ways, but Allah will not allow you in a billion years to kill yourself or someone else," Hossain says. "Establish the five daily prayers. That's the way to begin."
• December 5. The 302 memo: Another meeting at Hossain's pizzeria. Malik tells the FBI that Hossain says, "If [I] did not have a family to think about, [I] would pick up arms and start killing Mushriqs [Muslims who betray other Muslims]." Malik reports that Hossain supports the (fictional) attempt to bring in weapons. The transcript: Hossain again speaks against violence. "I don't believe in your method—that's why I don't take that path," the pizzeria owner says.
• January 14, 2004. The 302 memo: Malik meets Hossain's friend, Aref, and tells him that he gets money from selling missiles and ammunition to an Islamic radical group. Malik reports that he tells Aref that the people he is selling weapons to plan to attack the Pakistani prime minister, Musharraf. The report goes on to say that Aref blames Musharraf for betraying Muslims to side with America, that he has heard of the radical group Malik claims to be selling to, but doesn't know much about it, and he warns Malik that anyone with links to the group could go to jail. The memo specifies that Aref doesn't tell Malik not to help the group, but only to be careful. The transcript: Besides telling Malik to be careful, Aref also says he knows little about the group, but if they are fighting for their independence, he may help them. He tells Malik to help refugees and the needy. "I am neither asking you to help them or not help them because I don't know them very well," Aref says. Malik then asks Aref about his views on Bin Laden, but Aref fails to take the bait. Instead, he points out that out of 14 million Saudis, perhaps only 400 follow Bid Laden. "A Muslim leader is whom every Muslim follows," he says.
• July 1. The 302 memo: Malik reports that he has criticized Hossain for pro-American comments he has made in a newspaper article. According to the memo, Hossain responds by saying that he "only loves America's money," and actually hates America. In his heart, Hossain says he feels like Bin Laden. The transcript: When Malik ridicules Hossain for saying positive things about the United States at the same time that he is helping plot a terrorist attack, Hossain objects. He shouts that he is not Bin Laden, and that he came to the U.S. because he saw the good in this country.
In the transcript, Hossain repeatedly says that Muslims should treat Americans well for the good of their religion.
Asked at trial whether the things he told the FBI were the things that Hossain and Aref had actually said, Malik testified that he told his FBI handlers what the defendants had meant.
Defense lawyers for Hossain and Aref tried to make an issue of that at the trial, arguing that Malik misled his FBI handlers about the views of the defendants. In a case that had no real terror plot, in which the defendants did not buy any weapons or make any plans to blow anything up, Malik's portrayal of the two men as anti-American was a key element of the prosecution.
During the trial, Malik was so resistant to the cross-examination that he repeatedly argued with the defense lawyers, gave roundabout or incoherent answers, and said, "I don't recall" a total of 50 times. He was admonished multiple times by Judge Thomas McAvoy to answer the questions that had been asked.
At one point, McAvoy's frustration was reflected in a statement fairly startling for a judge: "Is someone going to read this someday and understand it?"