The Tragedy of Ahmed Abdel Sattar: Egyptian-American Political Prisoner
The case of Ahmed Abdel Sattar should be a matter of serious concern for all
Americans. It is the classic case of the
U.S. government targeting a U.S. citizen merely because he is an opponent of a client regime of the White House.
Who is Ahmed Abdel Sattar?
Originally from Egypt, Ahmed is an unassuming, humble U.S. citizen, who worked honestly and diligently for the U.S. Postal Service in New York. He was never involved in criminal activity of any kind. In fact, he was known in his community for his piety and virtue, and no one"friend or foe"ever accused him of any underhanded or crooked activities.
A long-time community activist, he was deeply involved in his local mosque in the hopes of creating a better future for the children of his largely Egyptian community. He never preached, instigated, or supported violence against the United States.
Ahmed had deep roots in America. Married to Lisa Sattar, an attractive and compassionate Caucasian-American Muslim from Chicago, Ahmed was confident that he had a future in this land of immigrants. Lisa and Ahmed have four children: Omar (age 19); Ali ( age 18); and twins Amina and Mohamed (age 14).
Fusion of American Democratic Values and Knowledge from the Qur'an led to Opposition to the Egyptian Regime
As Ahmed studied the Qur'an and surveyed the Egyptian political scene, he become an opponent of the murderous Hosni Mubarak regime in Egypt. It seemed to him that anyone who supported democracy and human rights should oppose such a regime.
Ahmed's Relationship with Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman
Many Americans are not aware of the cataclysmic changes which occurred in Egypt during the '70s and '80s. These changes included the Egyptian government's decision to recognize Israel, against the will of the majority of Egyptian people. The CIA had evidently infiltrated the top echelons of the Egyptian government.
In response to this hijacking of Egyptian national policy (and the resultant domestic crackdown on dissidents), various Islamic groups evolved. The most successful of these was Gamaa al-Islamiyya, known for its social work in the Egyptian slums. Gamaa also urged its members to resist the regime's repression, torture and murder.
Gamaa al-Islamiyya proliferated into thousands of decentralized groups. Its spiritual leader was Dr. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a Ph.D from al-Azhar University, whose dissertation was on the meaning of jihad in the Qur'an. The mass movement "rooted in mosques, villages, and the poor" posed a serious challenge to Mubarak's brutal regime.
Under severe repression and after repeated arrests, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman emigrated to the U.S. Blind and diabetic, he viewed the U.S. as a place of refuge where he hoped to live in peace, as a traditional Muslim scholar teaching the rulings of Islam on a variety of issues. His learning won him the admiration of thousands of American Muslims, and he was invited to speak at mosques around the country. He did not preach against the U.S., but was a harsh critic of the Mubarak regime. The era of Osama bin Laden had not begun.
Ahmed Abdel Sattar was drawn to the Shaikh, as a valuable source of Islamic knowledge. Ahmed admired the honesty of the Shaikh's rulings, his otherworldliness, his erudition in Qur'an and hadith, and his opposition to the Hosni Mubarak regime. Ahmed often disagreed with the Shaikh, but even in disagreement, he found the Shaikh's learning attractive and infectious. The more he listened to the Shaikh, the more he was drawn to him. It never dawned on Ahmed that the U.S. was being taken over by Israel, and would no longer be a haven for opponents of regimes linked to Israel.
The Arrest of Shaikh Omar
The Shaikh was eventually arrested, charged, and convicted on trumped up charges, likely to please Hosni Mubarak, who was disturbed by the former's growing support in the U.S. Ahmed could hardly believe that a man of God could be arrested and brought to trial in the Land of the Free on terrorism charges, simply because he opposed the criminal regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Why is Ahmed Abdel Sattar in Prison?
The Zionists in New York wanted to 'get' Ahmed for his unwavering efforts to mobilize support to stop violation of the Shaikh's human rights. Initially they did not succeed, because U.S. law did not allow a person who stands up for the rights of a dissident to be labeled terrorist for his views. Ahmed had lived a clean life, giving the authorities no ammunition for their witch hunt against him.
Soon after 9-11, Ahmed's house was raided on the pretext that there might be weapons there. None were found. Then, in April 2002, he was arrested on charges which may only be described as absurd. The government had monitored his phone conversations with Egyptian dissidents, in which he'd urged opposition to Hosni Mubarak. Ahmed was kept in solitary confinement for a year and four months. When his case finally came up for review, the judge found there was no case of terrorism to be made against Ahmed.
Despite this, Ahmed continued to be held without bail. Because of his standing in the Egyptian community, upstanding members of the community offered their homes as collateral for bail. However, at the bail hearing, the judge accepted the prosecution notion that Ahmed was a "flight risk." As he was led away following the hearing, he waved to Lisa and his children and said: "Be not afraid. Allah is with us." (Slight abbreviation of the Prophet's (PBUH) words to Abu Bakr (R.A.) given in Sura Taubah.) From July 2003 onwards, the government held Ahmed without bail on frivolous charges of "soliciting violence" and "fraud."
On October 24, 2006, Ahmed was convicted and sentenced to 28 years in prison as punishment for his phone conversations with members of the Egyptian opposition. Sattar had been held in solitary confinement and on 24-hour lockdown for an extended period leading up to his conviction, and appeared pale at his sentencing. His co-defendants, Lynne Stewart and Mohammad Yousry were sentenced to 28 months and 20 months, respectively. In January 2007, Sattar was moved from New York to Colorado's infamous Supermax, far away from family and friends.
Left without head of household, Sattar's family was hounded and persecuted in New York. His sons were fired from their jobs by an employer who invoked 9-11 (as if these children had been personally involved in the event!). The bank accounts of Lisa Sattar, and the Sattar children were closed without explanation by Sovereign Bank, where they'd held accounts. They were completely and utterly abandoned by New York's major masajid and Majlis-e-Shura (largest Islamic organization in the New York area).
What You Can Do
1. Stay informed of Sattar's case:
Corporate media are not covering it, so check the following websites for updates:
2. Speak Out
The Muslim community and its friends are urged to speak out at every opportunity"Eid gatherings, khutbas, protest rallies, class discussions"for Ahmed. It is important to recognize that Ahmed is a political prisoner, who is in prison for his beliefs, and not because he has done anything wrong.
3. Write letters of concern and support to Ahmed:
Ahmed Abdel Sattar
U.S.P. Florence Admax
PO Box 8500
Florence CO 81226-8500
Remember to write responsibly. Do not mention anything illegal.
4. Contact Imam Siraj Wahhaj to ask why he is silent on Ahmed's case:
Imam Siraj Wahhaj
1184 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11216
Siraj Wahhaj is imam at a major New York mosque; the Majlis-e-Shura is the largest Islamic organization in the New York area. Yet they have been entirely silent on Ahmed's case. Urge Imam Siraj Wahhaj and the Majlise-e-Shura of New York to speak out for Ahmed's human rights, or at the very least, to support Ahmed's innocent wife and family.
Abridged and updated from article in New Trend Magazine, originally published 8/9/2003.
New Trend Magazine
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Phone: (443) 869-5233
Disclaimer: Views expressed are not necessarily shared by the editors. New Trend does not endorse violence of any kind. Information on news or views related to violence is for analysis and understanding, not for endorsement. New Trend is against racism, classism, gender superiority, Zionism and Imperialism. The Qur'an and the authentic Hadith are our foundation.
2001-10-27 Sat 15:23ct
Ahmed Abdel Sattar
, the reknowned human rights activist,
paralegal/translator to Shaikh Omar 'Abdel Rahman, (
) lived in Staten Island, New York.
He went downstairs from his apartment to stop a fight
between two 15-year olds.
Minutes later, after he had come upstairs,
the police entered his apartment without a search
warrant claiming he had beaten up one of the young people.
They had been keeping an eye on his apartment and
used this opportunity to carry out a search without a warrant,
messing up his home and disturbing his family.
2004-07-14 Wed 19:18ct
Lisa Abdel Sattar:
On July 7, 2004, after 8 months of reliable and prompt service
my sons were fired from their jobs as busboys at the
corner restaurant, The Elm Park Inn 238 MorningStar Rd.
in Staten Island, NY 10303. We live two doors from this
establishment which proved to be very convenient for the owners.
However, upon learning of my husbands incarceration,
nationality/religion, the owner Jim Walsh, confided in a waitress
that he had fired my sons because of who their father was.
Knowing that this could have negative repercussions,
he covered up by telling co workers that my sons were fired
because business was slow and they needed to cut back.
Not satisfied with this explanation my oldest son, Omar 17,
decided to look into the real reasons.
After questioning the cooks and waitresses it was
disclosed that they were indeed fired for who they are.
My son Omar decided to go straight to the boss and ask him
to his face why they were fired.
Well, the truth came out in front of customers and other employees.
"My wife died 9-11, every time I look at you I think of my wife
and I don't want you working here!"
My son told him that firing him for this reason was
discrimination and that was illegal, not to mention the fact.
His response," I don't care."
Approximately half an hour later two men, 30-35 6ft. 200lbs,
door asking for my 17 year old son.
came to my They proceeded to tell him that if he
caused any problems for his father or the business they
would come back and take care of the problem and that
he and his brother, Ali 15 yrs. old,
should stay out of the restaurant.
During the incident I was on the phone with 911 explaining
that there were two men at my door threatening my 17 year old son.
It took police over 45 min to get here.
4 Letters to the Judge
249 Hooker Pl.
Staten Island, NY 10303
Honorable John G. Knelt
500 Pearl St
New York, New York 10007
Dear Judge Koeltl,
Having my father gone is like having a part of my body
gone I can't live without it. My father is more then
you think he is. He is not just a man who is in jail
and he is not a dangerous man. He is a father and a
husband in a family who misses him very much. Not
only is he in jail he is isolated when he shouldn't
be. It hurts to know that my father won't be there
when we graduate or when it is our birthday he is
not there because you and the rest of the people
think he is a "dangerous man". If you look at him
and I mean really look at him you will see what I
mean. You will see that he is hurting because there
is a wall blocking him from the only thing he ever
cared for, his family. He always would help a person
in need. If you keep him in jail not only will be
hurting him but you will be hurting his children and
his wife. When I heard he was in jail my heart sank
tears came streaming down my face and my mothers face.
When I leave from the visit it hurts that he won't
be walking though those doors with us.
Every day I look at my mother and see her pain even
underneath her smile I see what she is feeling. I see
that she is hurt just like the rest of my family. I see
that she wants someone to talk to when we are at school
and she is left alone. When my father would come home
from work I remember jumping up and down and hugging
him and kissing him and him hugging me. And since he
was taken away I will never feel that feeling again.
When I would come home he would always want to know how
my day was and what happened that day.
If you have kids, I don't know, but if you do god forbid
one of them had to be sent to Europe or Egypt. And you can
only see them once a month or once a year wouldn't you feel
isolated would you feel like that there is hole in side of
you that can't be filled? Well that's how my family and I
feel. I just cant stand the fact that only my mom will be
there to make me feel better or help me with homework or
most of all to pick me up when I'm down. Yes he may be in
jail and yes you may think he is dangerous but he is kind
and he is a wonderful man. Just please if my father was
home I would be the happiest girl in the world. So please
I beg you listen to what we are saying and let him come
home sooner rather than never.
Thank you very much.
249 Hooker Place
Staten Island, New York 10303
Honorable Judge John G. Koeltl
United States Court House
500 Pearl St.
New York, New York 10007
I would like to introduce myself, my name is Ali
Sattar. I am seventeen and I am the son of Ahmed
Sattar. I feel in my heart my father Ahmed Sattar
deserves the least amount of punishment possible.
Although I feel he has done nothing wrong, I plead
with you to give my father a lenient sentence. I
haven't been able to experience my fathers presence
at my junior high school graduation and now I'm a
senior in high school, sadly I know that he will not
make it to my graduation this year. I know my father
would pay anything to see me graduate; he is a good
man, and a great father. I can honestly say my family
has drastically changed due to the absence of my father,
but we still pray that he will come home soon.
This experience has changed my life as well. Dealing
with the hardship of seeing him in an orange jumpsuit
trying to keep a smile and getting our hopes up has
been difficult. Looking at his face when I would show
up at the courtroom, the bliss and enthusiasm that
I saw in his eyes, as he heard our young voices on
the countless phone calls was painful for both of us.
These past three years I wished and prayed that my
father would come home soon, and I ask you, please be
fair and give my father a chance to eat a home cooked
meal, play sports with my brothers and me, watch
cartoons and have a good time with his family. My
life has changed, I may not know till later on in
life how extreme it was, but I know I want to go
through the rest of my life knowing my dad has a
chance to be happy before he leaves this life.
Please consider handing down a fair decision
and allow my father to come home. Our family
is the kind of family that works the best
when we are all together.
Thank you for taking the time out of your
busy day to read my letter.
249 Hooker Place
Staten island NY 10303
Hon. Judge John Koeltle
Unites States Courthouse
500 Pearl St.
New York, New York 10007.
October 22, 2005
Dear Judge Koeltle,
My name is Omar Sattar. My father, Ahmed Sattar,
was unfortunately found guilty in your courtroom
on February 10, 2005. As the oldest son I feel it
is my duty to write to you in an effort to show
you the kind of father, husband and man Ahmed Sattar
is and what life with out him has meant to me. I know
it is your job to put criminals and law breakers away.
People who have committed crimes of any form that is
punishable by law should be put away. The same goes
for my father a man who was found guilty of the
charges brought upon him. But if anybody knows my
father it is my family. Although I know that he
did not commit any crimes or plan to I feel that
an injustice has been done. My father is a man
of honesty and kindness, he wouldn't attempt to
hurt any one or even think about it.
As far as I can remember in my life I can recall
my father lessons. Most importantly how he wanted
us to be good children and then grow to be better
adults. I remember his expectations for us everyday.
On the day of high school graduation this past June
I was walking down the aisle thinking of how proud
my father would be if he could see me, but more
importantly how honored I am to be his son. I am
now attending the College of Staten Island and
think of him every time I enter the campus. I
think of how much he has missed in my life, all
of which we can never recapture. I will forever
hold his lessons in my heart and I thank god
every day for the father I have.
I cannot lie to you, his absence has devastated
my family, but we are living every day; doing good
not bad, kindness not selfishness and respecting
life as both our father and our religion has taught
us. I have struggled quite often to try to
understand why this is happening to my family and
I can't understand. This is Ahmed Sattar the father,
husband, supporter to his family not a criminal
mastermind. Yes, he has views, like so many people
but his views were just that and nothing more. My
father would never jeopardize what he has worked
so hard to accomplish in his family.
Honestly Judge Koeltle I don't think my father has
the heart to do anything he's accused of. This is
why I am asking if you could find it in your heart
to be lenient when you are determining his sentence
and make it so he still has enough time to see his
children grow up, meet grandchildren and experience
old age with my mom, I know this would mean
everything to me and my family.
I thank you for taking the time out of your busy
schedule to read my letter. I only hope that you
can now see Ahmed Sattar the way I do.
Omar Ahmed Sattar
249 Hooker Place
Staten Island, New York 10303
Hon. John G. Koeltl,
U.S.D.J. United States Courthouse
500 Pearl St, New York NY 10007-1316
Dear Judge John Koeltl,
On February 10, 2005, a life changing decision was
made by a jury in your courtroom. I have tried for
almost four years to understand how my husband has
arrived at this defining moment in his life by
speaking his mind. After a lengthy trial, the
majority of the jurors found all three of the
defendants guilty on all counts. Although I don't
agree with the verdict, as could be expected, I
must accept it. However, I felt it was my duty as
a wife and mother to provide you with a better
insight to the man, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, one that
was not presented in court papers, evidence or
open courtroom proceedings; An insight that
hopefully will be of assistance in your decision
that will prove to be not only a decision that
will affect both my husband and I, but most
importantly, our children.
You've heard testimony from the defendant, my
husband, Mr. Sattar about his life and his
experiences both in Egypt and America, how we
met, married and had a family together and of
course his political views. You heard from Mr.
Morvillo, Mr. Dember, and the rest of the
government's team their opinion of the kind of
man Mr. Sattar is, a cold hearted individual
with no regard for human life, this based
exclusively on transcripts and the reputations of
others. I am convinced that you cannot truthfully
evaluate a person unless you have actually had a
chance to become acquainted with them. Yet there
is still so much that remains undisclosed
about the true character of Ahmed Sattar.
In 1985 I came to New York on a vacation from
Chicago, I had no idea I would never return. I
met Ahmed my second day in New York and
subsequently gained employment at the same
restaurant where he was working. We married four
months after we met regardless of our different
religions and cultures. I have learned from Ahmed
that although today's society is filled with such
diversity, it is the opportunity of a lifetime to
experience and learn from one another. He is an
educated man who enjoys sharing his knowledge,
both religious and historical. I can honestly say
it was because of him I returned to the academic
world and am now majoring in history. Ahmed is
a firm believer in educating oneself and I am
grateful to him for this.
Ahmed is and will always be a man with morals and
values. This is evident in our children. Although
religion is a major component of our children's
upbringing, Ahmed has inspired them to be proud
of who they were and of their diverse heritage.
He taught them the qualities that we believe all
children should possess regardless of race or
religion. Honesty, respect, kindness as well as
compassion towards all, qualities that are almost
non existent in our youth today, are his legacy
to our children. With this solid foundation of
values our children have been very successful
thus far in all that they have come across.
Judge Koeltl, I have observed you in the courtroom
and have witnessed your fair evaluation of all
matters brought to your attention. I pray that
you carry out the same fairness in the matter of
the sentencing phase if this case. I am aware of
the seriousness of the verdict for the charges in
this case and reiterate the fact that Ahmed Sattar
is not a dangerous man, nor is a danger to his
community. He does not deserve to spend the rest
of his life in a federal prison. I realize that
there must be a sentence imposed here, but I
implore you set aside the guide lines and
grant my family's request for leniency.
Grant us the opportunity to grow old together,
rather than apart.
I express my gratitude for your time in
considering this request.