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Saudi Webmaster Acquitted of Terrorism Charges 909

terrymr writes "Saudi Student Sami Omar Al-Hussayen was found not guilty on charges that he 'rendered techical assistance to terrorists' by acting as the webmaster for an Islamic charity. Said one juror: 'The part that surprised me was when I read the First Amendment instructions. I was surprised to learn that people could say whatever they want... providing it would not cause imminent action.'" You might remember our previous coverage of this story. In addition, the AP (via CNN) has more information as well.
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Saudi Webmaster Acquitted of Terrorism Charges

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    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:50PM (#9394759)
      They'll probably attack the jurors as "liberal elites".

      Liberal elites who never heard of the 1st amendment.

      That'd be hysterical.
    • by bersl2 ( 689221 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:54PM (#9394778) Journal
      They refer to a lot of disallowed evidence in this "conservative news forum" of theirs. Would anybody care to elaborate on this?
    • As oppose to the liberal version of FreePer (although, I'd say it's 10x worse), which is celebrating the death of former President Ronald Reagan [].

      Best to just steer clear of the Internet bottom feeders.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2004 @01:19AM (#9395235)
        That lunatics aren't limited to the left or right of the political spectrum.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2004 @07:47AM (#9396420)
        We have actual proof about the many crimes committed by Reagan. Nicaragua, Iran-Contra, El Salvador, Grenada, Iraq, Panama, Chile, Afghanistan... there is no proof about this grad student doing anything illegal. Celebrating death is unseemly, but war criminals don't deserve much sympathy.

        The UN was found guilty of supporting the illeagl war and the war crimes that were carried out by the Contras. "The moral equivalents of our founding fathers" according to Reagan.
    • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:12AM (#9394896) Journal
      Seriously. I got a bit curious a while back. I know that Republicans are strong among religious conservatives and major industry, and Democrats among skilled professionals and academics (the sort of people who are most commonly on the Internet). Possibly as a result, there are a fair number of liberal forums out there.

      So, just out of curiosity, I decided to track down a couple of conservative forums. I was curious as to some conservative viewpoints on a couple things.

      And I couldn't *find* any. Liberal forums are all over the place, but conservative forums are *damned* hard to find. Finally, I ran across and took a look. Freerepublic was the *only* active conservative forum that I ran across, and it seemed to be quite small, incredibly amateurish, with rampant misspellings and grammatical errors, and boasted an absolute horde of *dumb* users. If people made the kind of logic errors they do on freerepublic on kuro5hin, they'd get immediately called out.
    • by Chasuk ( 62477 ) <> on Friday June 11, 2004 @03:01AM (#9395594)
      Indeed. is so "free" that shortly after I posted there - a very moderate, reasonable comment, incidentally - my message was "Removed by Moderator" and when I next attempt to post a message, I encountered this:

      Your posting privilege has been revoked. - where the moderators are too chickshit to allow their flock to engage in conversation which might meaningfully contradict their biases.

      • by Chasuk ( 62477 ) <> on Friday June 11, 2004 @03:07AM (#9395611)
        I hate to respond to my own post, but I thought I might share the message which earned my banishment from


        To: Jeff Head
        I am sorry...but the Uncle who was sending him money, for him to have been questioned after 911 because he was at the same hotel with some of the terrorists who crashed the Pentagon,

        He did receive a stipend, yes. From the link you provided:

        While AL-HUSSAYEN was a student in the United States, he received a stipend for living expenses from a foreign source.

        I live in Idaho. I read the paper every day, in print and on-line versions, and your claims regarding his Uncle I've read nowhere else.

        Here is a link to a message I posted on Slashdot which still sums up how I feel about this affair: 40 297 ...and that is simply how I feel about it and is my opinion. :-)


        Pretty threatening and defamatory, wasn't it?
      • This is typical of freep [].

        I had two userIDs booted from the site due to posting evidence contrary to previous post's allegations (from government documents [] no less) before I realized that their definition of "free" is the freedom to lie, spin, eliminate opposing viewpoints, and hide evidence to the contrary of a revisionist conservative political platform.

        At least on the so-called "liberal" sites [], a little debate is always welcome, and unpopular viewpoints are moderarated fairly if they are argued appropri
    • I knew freep was scary and wrong, but I had no idea that they could be this nuts...

      Nice page you have there, Jeff! Here is this map again. I am trying to post it so most are aware of it. The media down plays the fact that thousands of Muslims ARE living in our Country!

      Map? []

      Thousands of Muslims living in "our" country? Thousands?! Where does this guy live? Who doesn't know that millions of Muslims live in this country along with "us"? Just plain shocking.

  • First Ammendment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:50PM (#9394753)
    Obviously the right most taken for granted is also the one people understand the least...
    • The problem with this type of trial is that the jurors are not aware of what they are supposed to be doing. They are supposed to be using their conscience, not "jury instructions".

      Check out this site about jury nullification []. The real questions the jury should be answering are: "does the law make sense", not "is it legal or not". The job of deciding whether it is legal or not has already been decided by the prosecution and the judge before they picked a jury.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:51AM (#9395097)
        Perhaps you should read the article.

        The juror quoted is being instructed to the effect that the free speech is far broader than the juror expected. That is, the judge is informing the jury that the defendant is much harder to convict on these charges than they might have thought. The judge is not telling the jury what the verdict should be, nor is he encouraging them to convict.

        This is, in fact, the point of the instructions. The judge is supposedly an expert in fine points of law, while the jurors are not. Thus, you can remind or inform them of those details that matter to the case. If, as you propose, jury nullification were a great thing, in this case ignoring the law in favor of (potential) jury whim would have resulted in a conviction, not an acquittal.

      • No.


        And, no. The jury is there to decide if the person actually committed the crime in question, not whether the law makes sense. While jury nullification is useful for the worst abuses of the legislative process, I would prefer that they generally stick to deciding guilt or innocence.

        Remember, the last high-profile use of jury nullification was OJ. It wasn't that they thought that he didn't do it, but that they didn't want riots (a case of the law not making sense, taking into account what could happen).

        • by lobsterGun ( 415085 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @09:41AM (#9396999)
          Where do you people get this stuff??? The OJ case wasn't about nullification.

          It would have been nullification if the jurors had declared afterwards "Yeah, he did it, but the laws against First Degree Murder are wrong or were wrongly applied"

          Instead, in the after the trial interviews, the jurors said, "We didn't think he did it."

          As an aside...they also said that had they seen the evidence that was excluded at trial that they would have voted to convict. That's the bitch of the OJ trial and what most people can't understand: It wasn't that the jury was too stupid or gullible. It was that the prosecution was out manuvered by the all star squad of Cochran, Bailey, Dershiwitz, and Shapiro.

        • by justins ( 80659 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @10:06AM (#9397216) Homepage Journal
          The jury is there to decide if the person actually committed the crime in question, not whether the law makes sense.

          Bullshit. How do you do that if you can't even figure out what the law means or how it could possibly be applied? I've been on a jury, and I've been there.

          It's an interesting phenomenon, too, when you come up against this in real life. Our jury had determined for sure that the defendent was guilty on the first count. The second count was a pretty strangely worded law. It was interesting in that situation to see which people "defaulted" to guilty or not guilty once it was clear that we were not going to get a better interpretation of the law from the judge.

          But I don't think any of us viewed this as "jury nullification," which the way it is ordinarily described seems like a (constitutionally protected) form of civil disobedience. We weren't motivated by any sort of moral thing, just by confusion.
  • Repeat 5th grade? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KRYnosemg33 ( 709857 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:50PM (#9394756)
    The part that surprised me was when I read the First Amendment instructions. I was surprised to learn that people could say whatever they want... providing it would not cause imminent action
    It's this sort of uninformed, unintelligent (lack of) thinking that even allows these 'cases' to reach the courts in the first place.

    Can we possibly force potentially a hundred million people to go repeat 5th grade american history?

    • The language in the jury instructions was from court decisions involving the 1st amendment. Probably quoted from the Pentagon Papers case.

      Once the defense asked for the instruction, the judge probably had no choice but to allow it. I don't think it's all that surprising that the a jury member was not familiar with the language. But I'm favorably impressed that the jury took the language seriously when they deliberated.

      In fact the 1st amendment was originally interpreted so that the government could out
  • by FunWithHeadlines ( 644929 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:51PM (#9394763) Homepage
    David Nevin, lead defense attorney for Sami Al-Hussayen, said as he left the courthouse that he thinks Al-Hussayen's acquittal on terrorism charges sends a message.

    "I hope the message is that the First Amendment is important and meaningful in this country, and actions protected by the First Amendment really shouldn't be subject to prosecution," he said. "I think (the prosecution of) this case represented a pushing of the envelope for what will be permissible in the future. I think this case suggests they won't do that in the future - which I think is good for the First Amendment."

    Well, it would be nice if that were the outcome of this case, that people would stop trying to push the First Amendment back. But I suspect the opposite will be the case: They will re-double their efforts to find ways to prosecute anyone they don't like. Prosecuters who lose cases don't usually think, "Hmm...guess I was in the wrong." Instead they think, "Hmm...better work harder to get convictions."

    In America, the big thing used to be DWB: Driving While Black, where you could be pulled over just for having the wrong skin color. In today's America, there are a few who seem to have the idea of EWI: Existing While Islamic. Well, sorry, but Islam is not the problem here, it is extremism. Extremists are the dangeous ones. But hey, let's forget about that and find ways to trash the Constitution, shall we? ...sigh...

    • by mandalayx ( 674042 ) * on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:03AM (#9394843) Journal
      You're probably right with other parts of the country (NY comes to mind) but these guys in Idaho seem pretty level headed. The US Attorney ends up praising the jurors (i.e. the people) instead of spreading some FUD:
      "I think the ladies and gentlemen on the jury did a good job," Moss said. "They were very attentive throughout the trial. I think they studied everything very thoroughly.

      And the jurors, while you can make fun of their lack of knowledge about the law, seemed to take the time to actually understand the law as it is written. Whew, that's a cool concept!
      On the terrorism charges, Steger said jurors simply found a lack of evidence. "All the evidence that we had was not clear-cut, saying that he was a terrorist, so there had to be a lot of inference, that kind of thing," Steger said.

      He added, "The part that surprised me was when I read the First Amendment instructions. I was surprised to learn that people could say whatever they want ... providing it would not cause imminent action."
      • I noticed that comment too, actually, so my thoughts were more directed at prosecuters in general and not specifically at this one guy. In fact, in the Mountain West, with their typical distrust of big government, it might well be harder to pick on the little guy.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:09AM (#9394872)
      It's unfortunate, but I'm beginning to realize that this is a recurring theme in the human condition. Every generation has a group to hate/fear. Hundreds of years ago it was witches. Our parents' generation feared the communists, and now we have the terrorists.

      In each of these cases freedom has always been the first victim. With witches it was the loss of religious freedom. With the communists came the loss of actual freedom for many wrongly imprisoned. Today not only are innocents like Sami Al-Hussayen losing their freedom, but we're all losing a little freedom as we exchange privacy for so-called "protection".
    • by macdaddy ( 38372 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:12AM (#9394898) Homepage Journal
      The problem can be summed up in two words: Intolerance and Greed. Those two little words can sum up every problem ever encountered in humanity. Unfortunately this world is riddled with people infected with both.
  • Went to school (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rodrin ( 729362 ) <> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:54PM (#9394776) Homepage Journal
    I actually went to school with the guy and he didn't seem so bad. Just goes to show what assumptions will get ya.
  • Love the CNN link (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:59PM (#9394816) sm.ap/

    I believe a better title would be: still.functional.ap/
  • by jnicholson ( 733344 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:59PM (#9394819) Homepage
    I'm surprised that the jury was able to see through this case. I wonder what were the charges that were dropped?

    Is this a case designed to test the waters to determine who has responsibility for web content? Did they go after the ISP as well?

    Will they retry on the remaining charges? What will happen after he's deported? The whole situation is a little bit scary.

  • by swinginSwingler ( 161566 ) <> on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:02AM (#9394834)
    I'll die fighting to let him say what he wants. But, don't let him show up at my any of my favorite bars around Ft. Bragg. Anyone who supports "religious edicts justifying suicide bombings" and invites people to "financially support the militant Palestinian organization Hamas" wouldn't last too long there.
    • by wwest4 ( 183559 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:38AM (#9395042)
      If some reactionary soldier kicks the shit out of some guy for saying something even as repugnant as advocating suicide bombing, he is stomping on the freedoms he's fighting for. That's like building a house and then razing it because you don't like who moved in. There is no freedom of speech if there is still the implied threat of physical retaliation.

      Besides, it's pretty obvious the guy isn't going to evangelize at Ft. Bragg. What's the point... it would be like trying to sell Pax Americana to a mullah and his followers, right?

  • Islamic websites. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nabil_IQ ( 733734 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:09AM (#9394875) Homepage
    I sometimes browse around some so called "islamic" webistes to see what they are talking about, some of them are genuinly religious with moderate tone and basically teaching ppl. about Islam or offering services like prayer times and Qura'an lessons and other usefull/intresting stuff.

    HOWEVER, recently I've witnessed the influx of HATE sites claiming to be "islamic" sites. The preech hate and praise desruction. I'm all for free speech, but the freedom of a group or indivduals aren't absolute, and it shouldn't infringe or in anyway threaten the freedoms of others. In these sites they are calling for attacks on western intrests everywhere. They cheer for teh killing of westerners and/or Chrstians and calling for more acts like teh ones we saw in Saudi. I think the freedom of speech those ppl. have should be revoked because they very grossly abused.

    bare in mind I'm a Muslim, and I'm not flaming Islam or have any hidden agenda.
  • America (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CaptainTux ( 658655 ) <> on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:18AM (#9394935) Homepage Journal
    The death of President Reagan gave me some time and reason to pause and consider our country, my political party, and how both have changed over few years. When you think about it, it's really saddening and scary...

    America *used* to be a shining light for freedom in our world. We used to fight for the rights of oppressed people, fight for freedom of speech, and label anyone who dared try to limit our God given constitutional rights as traitors and deal with them accordingly. Then, in a few days in September 2001, that all changed for some reason.

    Now, we label those who want Americans to have unrestricted freedoms as traitors. We lable those who speak their minds and take their liberties seriously "terrorists" and we crucify anyone who doesn't tout whatever party line happens to be in effect at the moment (it really is a moving target).

    Cases like Mr. Al-Hussayen, the Iraqi prison abuses, and countless others serve as a sad reminder that this is not the America that many of us grew up in or really want to be a part of. In the Reagen years, they say we felt a sense of national pride. We were proud to be Americans. Now, I think we simply feel a sense of national shame.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not blaming President Bush for all of this. I do believe that he is a good man trying to do what he believes is right for his country. But there are others in our government who, for whatever reasons, seem to have set up another of the worlds great evil empires and are weilding that power to go after people like Sami Omar Al-Hussayen.

    We wonder why people the world over dispise us as a people. We wonder why people think our government and political system are evil. We wonder why nobody trusts us. I'm sure Mr. Al-Hussayen, many Iraqi citizens, and a few American citizens could give us a lot of reasons why.

    It is good news that he was found not guilty. Unfortunately, like another poster here says, this won't end the governments persecution of innocent people. They will simply view him as one that got away, draft legislation to tighten loopholes, take away a few more freedoms, and continue the fight. Man, what a year this 1984 is...

    • Re:America (Score:5, Informative)

      by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:27AM (#9394979) Journal
      Dude, are you serious? Did you never hear about the government hunting down "commies" all over the place during the cold war? Or the horrible treatment of the Japaneese americans during WWII? Our country does many great things, and I like it here, but we've been bastards in the past too, and we've done stuff that doesn't even COMPARE to making prisoners make naked piramids, give me a break.
    • Re:America (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rice_web ( 604109 )
      It's like America was a co-dependent nation, always trying to improve the lives of others. With the Soviet Union there, we "knew" what we had to do to be morally "better" than them, but without that pressure, the United States is simply going to correct the lives of others, when indeed their may be no fault.

      Principally, I think the United States is a very conflicted nation that is on the way downward as its debt spirals out of control. The exuberance of the American consumer and the plentiful service emplo
    • America is not alone (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ilyanov ( 142645 )

      "Don't get me wrong, I am not blaming President Bush for all of this."

      I wailed when George Bush was declared victor. At that point I had decided to stay away from all news till either President Bush was defeated or retired. September changed all that, for about a year I was really behind the President. I was even for the war in Iraq and the war changed everything I felt.

      I think this administration has had its pound of flesh. I thought I knew what I was about. Going into the war, I had concluded the war

    • Re:America (Score:3, Insightful)

      by humankind ( 704050 )
      Don't get me wrong, I am not blaming President Bush for all of this. I do believe that he is a good man trying to do what he believes is right for his country. But there are others in our government who, for whatever reasons, seem to have set up another of the worlds great evil empires and are weilding that power to go after people like Sami Omar Al-Hussayen.

      In other words, you don't like the way things have gone down, but you don't want to give anyone credit for the problem?

      With all due respect, you're
  • Why was he deported? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mentaldrano ( 674767 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:22AM (#9394958)
    According to the CNN article, he faces deportation after his trial, win or lose. His family is already back in Saudi Arabia, and he expects to join them. However, no details as to why he is being deported. He did face several counts of visa fraud, but he was acquitted on those counts! Why is he still being shipped out?

    What kind of legal circus has been set up, when you either spend time in jail or get kicked out of the country? Was he really here illegally, or is the government just deporting him because they know he doesn't have the resources to fight TWO legal battles back to back? Neat way to get rid of the problem, from a Dept of Homeland Security asshat point of view.
  • by Granos ( 746051 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:37AM (#9395032)
    First of all, here are a couple of interesting links. The news stories are kind of vague as to the specifics of the charges, so here are the actual indictment [].
    The website with the actual mailing list (which is named, along with about 10 others in the above PDF) is here [].

    The thing about websites, forums, and mailing lists, is that you can never get the true feel from a description designed to make it sound horrible. For all we know, the messages that they read could be considered the trolls of the mailing list. Even if they weren't, Internet forums is still a sticky subject. People say a lot of stupid things, discussions can get heated, people can troll, people can exaggerate their beliefs to get a better response, and sometimes there are just nuts who use the Internet to let our their ideas that no one will listen to in real life. The sites could have been designed to support and recruit terrorists, but you can never really know, and there certainly wasn't enough evidence to point fingers at a moderator of the mailing list.

  • one question... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by __aahlyu4518 ( 74832 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @02:12AM (#9395432)
    do they have to stop the 'approved' torture now?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2004 @02:13AM (#9395435)
    From the article:

    "Al-Hussayen remains in custody on an immigration hold."

    That single fact speaks volumes.

  • by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @02:45AM (#9395551) Homepage Journal
    "Saudi Student Sami Omar Al-Hussayen was found not guilty on charges that he 'rendered techical assistance to terrorists' by acting as the webmaster for an Islamic charity."

    What??? Are you saying with prison pictures, anti-terrorism bills and customs finger printing that the system still works??!!! Hold me. I feel faint.
  • Scary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @04:07AM (#9395825)
    QOTD: Said one juror: 'The part that surprised me was when I read the First Amendment instructions. I was surprised to learn that people could say whatever they want... providing it would not cause imminent action.'"

    Sweet fscking Jesus! This is seriously scary stuff. You Americans are always on about Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights. But it seems to me that what this illustrates more than anything is that the average American simply doesn't know and/or care, when it can come as a surprise, that your constitution gives you these rights. No wonder that the GWB can get away with anything!

    Now, to look at this from another angle. You know, when people are starving, all they think about is food, and when they are thirsty, nothing seems more attractive than water. So why are subjects like 'freedom', 'democracy' and 'human rights' so important to Americans?
  • by humankind ( 704050 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @04:24AM (#9395896) Journal
    Official Public Notice...

    Attention non-US-citizens

    We know that you have looked to the United States over the years as a benchmark for progress. The innovation and passion of our infant society and government has made great strides in the progression of humankind.

    However, please be advised that this progress has now ceased.

    Don't waste your time being disappointed with the obvious lack of logic, consistency, lawfulness or compassion of our people. It has all but evaporated.

    America has turned into a society of consumers who value materialism over everything else, and as a result, we interpret "truth" according to the tenets which most benefit our quest for validation within our society of consumption.

    Not everyone in our country believes in these ideals, but you wouldn't know that from watching American media.

    So the energy you would expend to call attention to the numerous double standards of the ideals that we supposedly espouse might be best served, if they were recycled into a campaign to overthrow the political parties that are employing the misguided notion that large corporations and media conglamorates have the masses best interests in mind.
  • by Dak RIT ( 556128 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @08:50AM (#9396663) Homepage
    Here's a quote from the "Conservative News Forum":

    "The media down plays the fact that thousands of Muslims ARE living in our Country!" - SheLion

    Perhaps nobody has explained to everyone yet that Muslim is not a synonym for terrorist. It's extremely disheartening to see Americans who hold this belief so readily and elicits memories of Japanese concentration camps in America during World War II.

    Have we really learned anything from past mistakes?

  • Sweet justice... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by danharan ( 714822 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @08:54AM (#9396685) Journal
    He faced up to 15 years for each of three terrorism charges, 25 years on each visa fraud charge and 5 years on each false statement charge.
    *Shakes head* So, visa fraud is a greater offense than terrorism?

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein