Campaign Demanding Proper Health Care for Incarcerated COINTELPRO Target Imam Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown)
A campaign was recently launched demanding immediate health care for political prisoner Imam Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown. Once the chairperson of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Minister of Justice for the Black Panther Party, Al-Amin was one of the original four targets of the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO program. Now 70 years old, he has been held in a federal prison at Florence, Colorado since 2006, where he is serving a life sentence for what many claim was the wrongful conviction in 2002 for shooting two deputy sheriffs. At the time, four leading Muslim organizations – CAIR, the AMC, ISNA and the Muslim American Society – issued a joint statement: “The charges against Imam Jamil are especially troubling because they are inconsistent with what is known of his moral character and past behavior as a Muslim.”
Al-Amin has multiple health issues have rapidly accelerated, including dental problems, a swollen jaw, broken teeth and swollen legs, ankles and feet, and has lost 30 pounds in just a few weeks, likely the result of recently-diagnosed cancer. Recently, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark visited Al-Amin.
Attorney Karima Al-Almin:
- I met Jamil on July 1st 1967. I had graduated from college and started a job on that day. He walked into the job where I was to see someone who he was staying with.
- At that time he was under house arrest and he could only stay in the borough of Manhattan, the Bronx and then William Kunstler’s house up there in Westchester county.
- He invited me to go to lunch. The lunch was with Louis Farrakhan. So I met him on the same day, we joke about that, but I married Jamil.
- In May of 1967 he was elected chairperson of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
- Based on the fact that he didn’t appear for trial in Maryland for an inciting a riot charge, which was later dismissed, he was put on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in May 1970.
- For 19 months he was being sought and not found, but then he was arrested in October 1971. He was attempting to clean up New York City’s drug problem.
- There was an H. Rap Brown Anti-Dope Campaign. As a result he was captured in what was labeled as an “armed robbery.” He did go to trial and William Kunstler and Howard Moore defended him.
- He was given a sentence of 5 to 15 years. He served 5 years in the New York State prison system and then he got out in 1976.
- After getting out he came to Atlanta, where I had moved.
- He spent years establishing a Muslim community, again cleaning up the neighborhood, making it safe for families and children.
- In May of 1999 he was stopped, which ended up being an illegal stop outside of Atlanta city limits. He was charged with driving a stolen car, which he did not know about.
- In January of 2000 he was given a date to appear in court on those charges. There was a storm and it was postponed. He didn’t know he was supposed to return and a warrant was issued in March 2000. That’s when the incident happened.
- A Fulton County deputy was killed and another was shot, and then we had the trial in 2002. There were so many problems with the trial. There were so many constitutional violations during the trial. He was found guilty in March 2002 and given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
- Georgia in 2003 tried to get him transferred and held in a federal facility, but it didn’t happen until July 2007. They were moving him based on his popularity.
- Georgia is paying a per diem to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for him to be housed.
- It goes back to what he thought was a dental problem about a year and a half ago. He developed abscesses. He was unable to get out of bed.
- A petition has already been sent to President Obama, Eric Holder and Charles Samuels.
- He dared to step out when he was 23 years old to speak out about injustices and make a difference.
Guest – Karima Al-Amin is an attorney at law and the wife of political prisoner Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. In addition to her private practice, Mrs. Al-Amin continues to work with attorneys in appealing her husband’s conviction and in working on his civil lawsuits challenging First Amendment and religious freedom violations. Mrs. Al-Amin is a member of several legal and community organizations, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Clarkston Business Association, and the Georgia Association of Muslim Lawyers (GAML).
US Attorney General Ramsey Clark:
- I met him first through FBI memos, a stack that reached floor to ceiling. He had a wonderful talent to irritate the FBI.
- The country needs that sort of skill. So I got a lot of memos before I even met him.
- He committed the supreme offense in the hierarchy of offenses according to the FBI–he embarrassed the bureau by making them look foolish because they couldn’t catch him.
- The legal staff were cheering him on. He made our day with narrow escapes. After this Congress enacted this absurd statute in his honor that shows he was a productive citizen concerned for our welfare.
- He’s big, strong, tall guy and he has to duck under that door on the other side of that glass that you meet him through. This time he looked smaller.
- Usually his energy level is very high. His energy level is way down; he looked frail in spite of his large frame.
- I went back Sunday and his condition was the same, confirmed. He’s got a real health problem that needs to be addressed.
- I think ideally he’d go to the Mayo Clinic first, get the thorough work up and diagnosis and everything. If it’s going to be long range treatment, get him over to North Carolina.
- The main thing is he needs the help of caring people from all over the country. We have to organize that to pressure the United States to do the only moral thing.
Guest – Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General of the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was the first Attorney General at the Justice Department to call for the elimination of the death penalty and all electronic surveillance. After he left the Johnson administration, he became a vociferous critic of the Vietnam War and continued on a radical path, defending the underdog and the rights of people worldwide, from Palestinians to Iraqis, to anyone who found themselves at the repressive end of government action.
U.S. Government to Prosecute 67-Year-Old Palestinian-American Rasmea Odeh
In the fall of 2013, the Department of Homeland Security arrested Rasmea Odeh, a 67-year-old Palestinian-American community activist and teacher in her Chicago home for failing to disclose a 1969 conviction in an Israeli military court. She was charged with unlawful procurement of naturalization. Odeh had allegedly failed to disclose her time in an Israeli prison 45 years ago. In 1969, Rasmea Odeh, her father and fiance were brutally tortured in an Israeli prison related to a bombing at a Jerusalem supermarket. Israel extracted a confession from Odeh, and she spent 10 years in an Israeli prison where she was tortured and sexually assaulted.
Odeh is Associate Director of the Arab-American Action Network and leader of that group’s Arab Women’s Committee. The group’s events bring together disenfranchised women, mostly recent immigrants, from Arabic-speaking countries. Odeh is scheduled for trial at a Detroit federal court in September. If convicted she could be imprisoned, have her citizenship revoked and be deported. Human rights campaigners are calling on the Obama administration to drop charges against Rasmea Odeh.
- She was arrested by the Israeli military and secret police in February of 1969. Her family, her father and two sisters were also arrested, taken out of the house in the middle of the night.
- She was then transported by herself to a prison in Ramallah. On the way she was brutally beaten, when she arrived at the prison she was beaten again to the point where her whole body turned black.
- She was then transferred to another prison called the Russian compound, which is in the West Jerusalem.
- There she was horrifically beaten and subject to electronic torture, alligator clips to her breasts and genitals.
- Prisoners and soldiers came into her room, she was raped repeatedly. She was raped with sticks. She was denied food, denied sleep. This went on for 45 days until she gave in and confessed.
- Her father was brought in a room with her and they said her father was going to rape her. Her father of course refused and they beat her father to the point of unconsciousness and they dragged him out.
- She was accused of being involved in two bombings, one at a British counsel and one at an Israeli grocery store.
- When she was brought into a military court run by soldiers, she renounced her confession and said that she was innocent. That was ignored and she was convicted of these bombings and of being a member of an illegal organization and given a life sentence.
- In 1979, she was traded in a prisoner exchange with 70 other Palestinian prisoners for the return of an Israeli soldier. She was taken to Syria, then Lebanon, then to Jordan where she lived until 1994. She obtained a visa to come to the United States.
- Basically since then she’s been working as a community activist in Chicago, particularly with the Arab-American Action Network.
- In 2010, there were all these raids by the FBI on anti-war activists, including the executive director of the AAAN. He was subpoenaed to a grand jury after the FBI raided his home and took all his papers.
- They claim that he was providing material support for the PFLP and as a result the whole AAAN was put under investigation and the grand jury subpoenaed all the documents of the organization.
- As a result of this investigation into the AAAN, the US attorney in Chicago sent word to Washington that they wanted to get Rasmea’s files from Israel.
- In a year or two years they got the records, or alleged to be her records of arrest, conviction and sentence by the Israeli military court.
- I don’t believe a conviction or arrest by the IDF and a conviction by an Israeli military tribunal is consistent with international law, fundamental fairness or due process.
- One of the things we’re going to say is that the conviction and arrest can’t be given any kind of credit in a U.S. courtroom because it’s fundamentally unfair and shouldn’t be considered.
- The question is whether she answered those questions with an intent to falsely procure her naturalization.
- I would add the judge in this case has been a fervent supporter of Israel since the ’50s.
- The Israeli tribunals are not only based on torture but illegal occupation. They invade a people’s land and set up these military courts.
- The question in my mind about Rasmea’s trial is, how are they going to keep out the issue of torture? Which is want they’re going to want to do.
- To support Rasmea Odeh, contact the Arab-American Action Network
- CCR Statement
Guest – Attorney Michael Deutsch of the People’s Law Office in Chicago. After clerking for United States Court of Appeals Judge Otto Kerner, Mr. Deutsch went into private practice, joining People’s Law Office in 1970, where he has represented political activists and victims of police and government civil rights violations. His advocacy has taken him all around the world, including to hearings in the United Nations. He has tried many civil and criminal cases in federal and state courts, and has written and argued numerous appeals, including several in the United States Supreme Court.