how the world sees america

Ignatius & Bakshi on Anti-Americanism

David Ignatius and I were online live together sharing our thinking behind "How the World Sees America" and answering readers' questions about what we've discovered, and what I intend to explore further through this project. See the discussion transcript here.

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Canadian Khalid Q Awan:

Dear Sir / Madam
I am 46 years old, Canadian citizen and native of Pakistan (Muslim). I was an immigration consultant in Canada and as part of my business; I had an office in New York.
During 2001 immediately after the Sept 11, event the US govt arrested me on Oct 25, 2001 on anonymous call, as a material witness for the 9/11 world trade centre terrorist attack. A detail investigation by the FBI and USA Naval intelligence dept was conducted and I was cleared, but even then govt put me in front of Grand jury, and I was cleared and the case was dismissed by the Grand jury of the US Federal Court.
Approximately after 2 weeks , before I was released from custody the US Govt imposed a new charges of Fraud and money laundering , under the advice of my attorney , I pleaded guilty and I was sentenced to prison for five years (which was four years more, what I pleaded). In which I had already spent 3 years in Detention jail, during the case , I had about 14 months left to finishing my sentence ,(instead of appealing, I preferred to applied for Treaty Transfer to Canada, because if the case is in the appeal, defendant is not eligible for transfer back to his home country).
While at prison, I learned from the case manager Miss House, that my citizen was incorrect in the FBOP’s (Federal Bureau of Prison) computer system as Pakistani instead of Canadian.
Its important to note , that all of my Canadian identifications (passport , citizenship card , S.I.N , Health card , Driving license etc) were under FBI’s possession, with a great deal of concern, I wrote a letter to the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo, N.Y to notify such mistake and requested them to fix this problem. This is especially important for Treaty Transfer back to Canada.
The Canadian Consulate official sent a letter to the jail to correct my citizenship status, however FBOP ignored the request and the citizenship status in the FBOP computer still reflect Pakistani instead of Canadian (Note: - I would be required to obtain visa to visit Pakistan) .In contrast, the deportation letter received from US Immigration dept, Contained the correct citizenship status of Canada.
At the hindsight, I believe that the FBOP intentionally left the citizenship as Pakistani, so that they could retained me at their facility, while the govt is planning to file new charges against me 3rd time.
Approximately six weeks before my released date on Jan 30, 2006 I was notified by the FBOP that I was being transferred from Ellenwood, PA to MDC (Metropolitan Detention Centre) in Brooklyn N.Y, it was explained to me, that the purpose of this transfer was in preparation for deportation back to Canada, (after few days, I signed the immigration deportation papers, with my consular Miss Chen).
But immediately after my arriving to MDC Brooklyn, I discovered during a phone call with my family in Montreal, that RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) official had contacted my sister and brother-in-law regarding the whereabouts of my wife and my current situation, there was no explanation given by the RCMP official to the purpose of the call and he left his phone number and asked my wife to call him back immediately, my wife called the RCMP official and left messages in his voice mail. Then the official contacted my brother-in-law again and had asked him to tell my wife not to call again, because there is nothing good nor anything bad.
Meanwhile the AUSA (United States Attorney) office Investigator and FBI brought me to their office to be interrogated without an attorney present, even AUSA told in the court to the judge on March 16, 2006 that he arranged attorney for me before my arrival from Ellenwood PA to MDC Brooklyn, N.Y, on Transcript; page 11, Transcript line No: 14 to 23.
AUSA: - He (Khalid Awan) was writ in the cause of a grand jury investigation. He clearly had criminal exposure. So to protect his interest I made an application to the duty magistrate for counsel to be appointed.
THE COURT: - Initially he was brought here by a Court to testify before the grand jury?
AUSA: - That is correct, Your Honour.

THE COURT: - When he arrived here, you made arrangements for an attorney to be pointed to request him?
AUSA: - Yes, Your Honour.
This interrogation started with the AUSA office Investigator stating that my family will be arrested in Canada if I refused to answer their questions.
At this point I am certain that my family is in great danger for reasons that I am not aware of. I was scared that my family would be harassed by these people along with the Canadian RCMP official; I strongly believe that the RCMP is doing this intentionally in collaboration with FBI official to further harass me to admit charges that I never committed.
Without knowledge of the reasons why the Canadian RCMP agency was involved. I was surprised that RCMP official directly approached my family instead of me without proper explanation, and its also shocked for me, that how RCMP got the phone number of my family (because before my arrest, I don’t have any single record in any police dept, of any country).
I was intimated and pushed to the edge during this interrogation; I was determined to provide anything these USA officials wanted to make them happy even is the questions made no sense, because I want them to stop the harassment to my family.
On March 15, 2006 I completed the term of my imprisonment and was to be released from American Custody and deported back to Canada. Before that I was arrested again 3rd time, and charged with providing “material support to a foreign terrorist” and money laundering (to an organization and person, which are not designated by the USA govt and belongs to Sikh religion).
These charges emerged while I was still in prison and without the capability of providing any type of support. It was even difficult for me to get enough financial assistance to pay legal fees. I could not have provided any material support while I was in prison for five years and I could not launder any money because I did not have any.
AUSA filed three counts of indictment against me.
Conspiracy to provide material support.
Provide a material support to the foreign terrorist.
Money laundering to support terrorism.
(Please note, that in my previous case govt charged me for money laundering and fraud from Jan 1999 to 2002 and “its mentioned in the plea-agreement by the AUSA that no further money laundering charges will be brought against defendant from Jan 1999 to April 2002” even then govt indict me for money laundering from 1998 to Nov 2001 (Which is double Jeopardy and violation of 5th Amendment of U.S Constitution.)
In Oct 2006, during pre-trial hearing on the motions filed by my attorney the first two counts of my indictment were dismissed by the judge, stating that there is a lack of facts and figures.
After two weeks AUSA re-indicted me again. I believe this is a desperate act of the AUSA to cover up a huge embarrassment. Further this hastily drawn indictment was full of factual errors and creative legal theories.
Since I was first arrested by the American govt, I believe that I have been singled out, isolated and discriminated against primarily because of my race and religion, in addition to the fact that I don’t know any information that the American govt is trying to pressure out of me.
I do not understand the American laws and this is what led to my pleading guilty in the first case. I have difficulty understanding the new charges also.
I have been charged under, section 2339(a) of Title 18 of the United States code, which makes it illegal to provide material support to a foreign terrorist.
Please understand, I am not a terrorist, I do not know any terrorist and I have had no connections with or to any known or unknown terrorist. I have been incarcerated for last 5 years and I had no money to provide or launder.
The law enforcement have in America is pressuring me to provide information to them that I really do not have or know. I am a Canadian Citizen and nearly all of my family is in Canada, including my wife and kids. I don’t know any information to tell them to help their investigation.
Because of this, I am being treated unfairly and my rights under the American constitution are being violated. I am being held here in further detention against my will for crimes which I could have never committed, because I was in prison.
I believe that I am a victim of the discrimination that was outlined in the July 3, 2006 issue of Time magazine (Page 29, column 3). In this article section 2339(a) & (b) are discussed and criticized “as most suspects are charged under these two sections. However, the justice dept here in America admits that of the more than 218 guilty pleas that it has obtained, most are for minor investigation issues that are uncovered deeding the course of their terrorism investigation. This suggest, according to the article that the Attorney General’s office have is not concerned about the rights or fairness or the manner in which it achieves convictions for the people they arrest. Furthermore, criticizes have noted that one of the patterns to emerge from these domestic prosecutions is that suspect seen too incompetent to carry out the deeds they are accused of. The Deputy Attorney General acknowledges that the Dept of Justice’s goal is “preventions through prosecutions” and this is done with no regard for an individual’s rights.
I agree that these guilty of terrorism should be prosecuted. But as the above mentioned article suggest, innocent people should not be targeted because of their race or religion.
I am not a terrorist and I should not be targeted and treated unfairly and unjustly.
I need your assistance desperately in my case, as I believe that I am being treated unjustly here. I would like to send you my attorney’s contact information and provide you with legal documents related to my case, so that you may become more familiar with my situation.
Please also note, that I appeared in the court , for no guilty of my 2nd superseding indictment on Aug 02, 2006 and on Aug 03, 2006 FBOP officials placed me in the SHU (Segregation Housing Unit) out of these months, I placed in the SHU isolation from Aug 03, 2006 to March 6, 2007 for unknown “Pending Investigation” in these 215 days of my segregation and isolation, I don’t have a single phone call access to my family, no legal calls to my attorney and Canadian Council, my legal mail opened in my absence, no medical treatment for my injured shoulder (even I went for hunger strike for 3 and half day) I harassed by the various jail officials and lot of other problems too which already been submitted in the attention of the FBOP higher authorities, but no action taken on them, after writing the court, instead of receiving the response or any action on my complaints, jail officials removed /moved me from MDC federal facility to Nassau County Jail .
My suffering has gone on for far too long, and I need your help to bring my suffering to an end. I want to return home to my family, because my imprisonment was injustice and will remain a great injustice forever.
May God bless you and be with you in your efforts to champion the cause of human rights, and the suffering of innocent prisoners and restore hope, faith and love to peoples all over the world.
Sincerely,
KHALID AWAN
FBOP NO. 50959-054
http://www.nysun.com/article/37251
http://ch-gondal.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/05/canadian-khalid-awan-facing-highlevel-unjustice.htm


Canadian Khalid Q Awan:

Dear Sir / Madam
I am 46 years old, Canadian citizen and native of Pakistan (Muslim). I was an immigration consultant in Canada and as part of my business; I had an office in New York.
During 2001 immediately after the Sept 11, event the US govt arrested me on Oct 25, 2001 on anonymous call, as a material witness for the 9/11 world trade centre terrorist attack. A detail investigation by the FBI and USA Naval intelligence dept was conducted and I was cleared, but even then govt put me in front of Grand jury, and I was cleared and the case was dismissed by the Grand jury of the US Federal Court.
Approximately after 2 weeks , before I was released from custody the US Govt imposed a new charges of Fraud and money laundering , under the advice of my attorney , I pleaded guilty and I was sentenced to prison for five years (which was four years more, what I pleaded). In which I had already spent 3 years in Detention jail, during the case , I had about 14 months left to finishing my sentence ,(instead of appealing, I preferred to applied for Treaty Transfer to Canada, because if the case is in the appeal, defendant is not eligible for transfer back to his home country).
While at prison, I learned from the case manager Miss House, that my citizen was incorrect in the FBOP’s (Federal Bureau of Prison) computer system as Pakistani instead of Canadian.
Its important to note , that all of my Canadian identifications (passport , citizenship card , S.I.N , Health card , Driving license etc) were under FBI’s possession, with a great deal of concern, I wrote a letter to the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo, N.Y to notify such mistake and requested them to fix this problem. This is especially important for Treaty Transfer back to Canada.
The Canadian Consulate official sent a letter to the jail to correct my citizenship status, however FBOP ignored the request and the citizenship status in the FBOP computer still reflect Pakistani instead of Canadian (Note: - I would be required to obtain visa to visit Pakistan) .In contrast, the deportation letter received from US Immigration dept, Contained the correct citizenship status of Canada.
At the hindsight, I believe that the FBOP intentionally left the citizenship as Pakistani, so that they could retained me at their facility, while the govt is planning to file new charges against me 3rd time.
Approximately six weeks before my released date on Jan 30, 2006 I was notified by the FBOP that I was being transferred from Ellenwood, PA to MDC (Metropolitan Detention Centre) in Brooklyn N.Y, it was explained to me, that the purpose of this transfer was in preparation for deportation back to Canada, (after few days, I signed the immigration deportation papers, with my consular Miss Chen).
But immediately after my arriving to MDC Brooklyn, I discovered during a phone call with my family in Montreal, that RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) official had contacted my sister and brother-in-law regarding the whereabouts of my wife and my current situation, there was no explanation given by the RCMP official to the purpose of the call and he left his phone number and asked my wife to call him back immediately, my wife called the RCMP official and left messages in his voice mail. Then the official contacted my brother-in-law again and had asked him to tell my wife not to call again, because there is nothing good nor anything bad.
Meanwhile the AUSA (United States Attorney) office Investigator and FBI brought me to their office to be interrogated without an attorney present, even AUSA told in the court to the judge on March 16, 2006 that he arranged attorney for me before my arrival from Ellenwood PA to MDC Brooklyn, N.Y, on Transcript; page 11, Transcript line No: 14 to 23.
AUSA: - He (Khalid Awan) was writ in the cause of a grand jury investigation. He clearly had criminal exposure. So to protect his interest I made an application to the duty magistrate for counsel to be appointed.
THE COURT: - Initially he was brought here by a Court to testify before the grand jury?
AUSA: - That is correct, Your Honour.

THE COURT: - When he arrived here, you made arrangements for an attorney to be pointed to request him?
AUSA: - Yes, Your Honour.
This interrogation started with the AUSA office Investigator stating that my family will be arrested in Canada if I refused to answer their questions.
At this point I am certain that my family is in great danger for reasons that I am not aware of. I was scared that my family would be harassed by these people along with the Canadian RCMP official; I strongly believe that the RCMP is doing this intentionally in collaboration with FBI official to further harass me to admit charges that I never committed.
Without knowledge of the reasons why the Canadian RCMP agency was involved. I was surprised that RCMP official directly approached my family instead of me without proper explanation, and its also shocked for me, that how RCMP got the phone number of my family (because before my arrest, I don’t have any single record in any police dept, of any country).
I was intimated and pushed to the edge during this interrogation; I was determined to provide anything these USA officials wanted to make them happy even is the questions made no sense, because I want them to stop the harassment to my family.
On March 15, 2006 I completed the term of my imprisonment and was to be released from American Custody and deported back to Canada. Before that I was arrested again 3rd time, and charged with providing “material support to a foreign terrorist” and money laundering (to an organization and person, which are not designated by the USA govt and belongs to Sikh religion).
These charges emerged while I was still in prison and without the capability of providing any type of support. It was even difficult for me to get enough financial assistance to pay legal fees. I could not have provided any material support while I was in prison for five years and I could not launder any money because I did not have any.
AUSA filed three counts of indictment against me.
Conspiracy to provide material support.
Provide a material support to the foreign terrorist.
Money laundering to support terrorism.
(Please note, that in my previous case govt charged me for money laundering and fraud from Jan 1999 to 2002 and “its mentioned in the plea-agreement by the AUSA that no further money laundering charges will be brought against defendant from Jan 1999 to April 2002” even then govt indict me for money laundering from 1998 to Nov 2001 (Which is double Jeopardy and violation of 5th Amendment of U.S Constitution.)
In Oct 2006, during pre-trial hearing on the motions filed by my attorney the first two counts of my indictment were dismissed by the judge, stating that there is a lack of facts and figures.
After two weeks AUSA re-indicted me again. I believe this is a desperate act of the AUSA to cover up a huge embarrassment. Further this hastily drawn indictment was full of factual errors and creative legal theories.
Since I was first arrested by the American govt, I believe that I have been singled out, isolated and discriminated against primarily because of my race and religion, in addition to the fact that I don’t know any information that the American govt is trying to pressure out of me.
I do not understand the American laws and this is what led to my pleading guilty in the first case. I have difficulty understanding the new charges also.
I have been charged under, section 2339(a) of Title 18 of the United States code, which makes it illegal to provide material support to a foreign terrorist.
Please understand, I am not a terrorist, I do not know any terrorist and I have had no connections with or to any known or unknown terrorist. I have been incarcerated for last 5 years and I had no money to provide or launder.
The law enforcement have in America is pressuring me to provide information to them that I really do not have or know. I am a Canadian Citizen and nearly all of my family is in Canada, including my wife and kids. I don’t know any information to tell them to help their investigation.
Because of this, I am being treated unfairly and my rights under the American constitution are being violated. I am being held here in further detention against my will for crimes which I could have never committed, because I was in prison.
I believe that I am a victim of the discrimination that was outlined in the July 3, 2006 issue of Time magazine (Page 29, column 3). In this article section 2339(a) & (b) are discussed and criticized “as most suspects are charged under these two sections. However, the justice dept here in America admits that of the more than 218 guilty pleas that it has obtained, most are for minor investigation issues that are uncovered deeding the course of their terrorism investigation. This suggest, according to the article that the Attorney General’s office have is not concerned about the rights or fairness or the manner in which it achieves convictions for the people they arrest. Furthermore, criticizes have noted that one of the patterns to emerge from these domestic prosecutions is that suspect seen too incompetent to carry out the deeds they are accused of. The Deputy Attorney General acknowledges that the Dept of Justice’s goal is “preventions through prosecutions” and this is done with no regard for an individual’s rights.
I agree that these guilty of terrorism should be prosecuted. But as the above mentioned article suggest, innocent people should not be targeted because of their race or religion.
I am not a terrorist and I should not be targeted and treated unfairly and unjustly.
I need your assistance desperately in my case, as I believe that I am being treated unjustly here. I would like to send you my attorney’s contact information and provide you with legal documents related to my case, so that you may become more familiar with my situation.
Please also note, that I appeared in the court , for no guilty of my 2nd superseding indictment on Aug 02, 2006 and on Aug 03, 2006 FBOP officials placed me in the SHU (Segregation Housing Unit) out of these months, I placed in the SHU isolation from Aug 03, 2006 to March 6, 2007 for unknown “Pending Investigation” in these 215 days of my segregation and isolation, I don’t have a single phone call access to my family, no legal calls to my attorney and Canadian Council, my legal mail opened in my absence, no medical treatment for my injured shoulder (even I went for hunger strike for 3 and half day) I harassed by the various jail officials and lot of other problems too which already been submitted in the attention of the FBOP higher authorities, but no action taken on them, after writing the court, instead of receiving the response or any action on my complaints, jail officials removed /moved me from MDC federal facility to Nassau County Jail .
My suffering has gone on for far too long, and I need your help to bring my suffering to an end. I want to return home to my family, because my imprisonment was injustice and will remain a great injustice forever.
May God bless you and be with you in your efforts to champion the cause of human rights, and the suffering of innocent prisoners and restore hope, faith and love to peoples all over the world.
Sincerely,
KHALID AWAN
FBOP NO. 50959-054
http://www.nysun.com/article/37251
http://ch-gondal.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/05/canadian-khalid-awan-facing-highlevel-unjustice.htm


Amar C. Bakshi:

Thanks Zoe! Rest assured: I have stayed, and will continue to stay in some incredibly low-budget places! I'll let you take a peak around the next one I'm in.

Zoe Goetz:

Enjoyed reading the anniversary discussion and found much I could relate to. I retired in 2002, rented out the house in the US and have been backpacking the world ever since...keeping a travel blog going at http://blogs.bootsnall.com/nomads. Have spent the last year living in Oaxaca trying to understand the unrest here. Next stop is to return to Beijing to visit a son and his American wife there and on to Thailand to visit another son and his Thai wife.

Since you are traveling at the courtesy of the Washington Post I would imagine you have a healthy budget. But I would like to suggest that you take some time to stay in some low budget guest houses and hostels where you are likely to meet other well-traveled people from all over the world, including America, who, because they are traveling long term, can't afford to, or choose not to, stay in upscale tourist hotels. As you may already know, not all hostels are only full of 20-somethings looking to explore the genitalia of the opposite (or same) sex. For example, in Beijing I stayed in a hostel in a hutong and met some very interesting travelers. In Soweto South Africa I stayed in a guesthouse run by a retired educator.

I have usually been treated respectfully wherever I have gone (maybe due to my age) except in Egypt where a vendor offered me a "banana...30 minutes I give you a banana!" Took me a minute to figure that one out! I was with my husband at the time and he was repeatedly asked, right in front of me, if he "want new wife?"

I really think many people the world over have a very distorted picture of life in the U.S. I blame TV for much of this. Most ordinary people have never been out of their countries much less have visited the U.S. In a small village in Viet Nam my motorcycle taxi driver, when I told him one of my jobs was managing a homeless program, asked "why they no work?" I had no idea where to even begin answering him. On TV people see palatial homes and sex-driven night clubs. They don't see the average family sitting down at the kitchen table at night helping their kids with their homework. (And I am no right-wing religious zealot!)

And yes, I have often been asked some very pointed questions...like how could you have voted for Bush twice. In 2002 a young German sternly warned me: "If you wage war in Iraq you will not win."

Amar C. Bakshi:

Anju,

I'll be in Delhi in under a month!

- Amar

Anju Chandel, New Delhi, India:

Not in India at least. In fact the views about America have improved considerably since the market reforms introduced in 1991 by our current prime minister Manmohan Singh as the finance minister then, which led to the incredible rise of the Indian IT industry and IT professionals in the US. This helped a great deal in forming a favourable impression about the US in India as "The Dream Destination". Moreover, if the Civil Nuclear Deal gets through, and it is able to reign in Pakistan's terror tactics in Kashmir, the US would be treated as a real friend! ... Nevertheless, Indians did not support the US on Iraq's invasion and will continue to oppose its bullish foreign policies.

Well, I personally have a serious grudge against the United States of America for vetoing SHASHI THAROOR's prospects for UNSG as he was The Most Suitable Man to adorn that highest diplomatic seat in the world!

And, I hope Amar Bakshi would visit New Delhi and take Indians' views as well!

Anonymous:

Not in India at least. In fact the views about America have improved considerably since the market reforms introduced in 1991 by our current prime minister Manmohan Singh as the finance minister then, which led to the incredible rise of the Indian IT industry and IT professionals in the US. This helped a great deal in forming a favourable impression about the US in India as "The Dream Destination". Moreover, if the Civil Nuclear Deal gets through, and it is able to reign in Pakistan's terror tactics in Kashmir, the US would be treated as a real friend! ... Nevertheless, Indians did not support the US on Iraq's invasion and will continue to oppose its bullish foreign policies.

Well, I personally have a serious grudge against the United States of America for vetoing SHASHI THAROOR's prospects for UNSG as he was The Most Suitable Man to adorn that highest diplomatic seat in the world!

And, I hope Amar Bakshi would visit New Delhi and take Indians' views as well!

Amar C. Bakshi:

Thanks for the view from Kurdistan! Would love to visit there too.

kurdistan:

it is obvious through the world wide that America is the only superpower country in the world. so, what does Mr amar wants to prove. yes, radical Muslim and communists probably critic American foreign policy, but that does not America is going to loss its position in the world. in my point of view America is great and they done what they have to do in order to secure the global interests.in addition to that, it is important to for us to know where Mr amar wants to visit to asks peoples view. of course if he goes to Pakistan, Iran,afghans tan, Iraq, and other middle eastern countries they will critic America, but we as Kurdish people do support America and its foreign policy.......

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