Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ali al-Timimi sentenced to life

Seems to be the "crime & punishment report" here at HoodaThunk? but that's how the stories are coming out. Ali al-Timimi of Fairfax, VA was charged with soliciting others to levy war against the United States. His conviction has now drawn him a life sentence.

::::::::ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - A prominent Islamic scholar who exhorted his followers after the Sept. 11 attacks to join the Taliban and fight U.S. troops was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison.

Ali al-Timimi of Fairfax was convicted in April of soliciting others to levy war against the United States, inducing others to aid the Taliban, and inducing others to use firearms in violation of federal law.

The cleric addressed the court for 10 minutes before his sentencing.

"I will not admit guilt nor seek the court's mercy. I do this simply because I am innocent," al-Timimi said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg said al-Timimi "hates the United States" and has called for its destruction.

"He's allowed to do that in this country," Kromberg said. "He's not allowed to solicit treason. He deserves every day he gets."

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said the evidence supported the mandatory life sentence. The judge had earlier left open the possibility that she would toss out some of the counts.

al-Timimi says he's innocent of the charges, but the evidence is clear that he told his followers at the local mosque that a battle between Muslims and non-believers was now at hand and that it was a requirement that they go to the defense of the Taliban and target US soldiers there. That's the definition of soliciting people to levy war against the US. While none of them actually made it to Afghanistan, several of them did go to Pakistan for training and to try to get across the Afghani border.

There is a fine line, apparently, between free speech and sedition. I'm all for freedom of speech, even the kind that makes me boiling mad. I'm for it even when my opponents in the various debates I find myself in don't think I deserve the same freedom. The second someone starts talking about concrete action to be taken against this country, that's where I draw the line. If al-Timimi had said to his followers that they needed to be sure they were registered to vote and to make sure all their family members were, too, that'd be fine. Talking angrily about getting someone booted from office via the ballot box is also fine. The second he suggested that his followers now needed to go and start shooting at US soldiers, that's the second it became not fine.

al-Timimi has been clear on his stance and, given his proven track record of inciting violence against other citizens, I'm not at all displeased with him being locked up for the rest of his life.

(Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the open post!)