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Wednesday, April 10, 2002
Sure, just pick on the attorneys
Although in this case, it might be justified. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced on Monday that four associates of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman's have been indicted for passing messages to Rahman's terrorist organization in Egypt. At least three of the people indicted worked on Rahman's defense team during previous terrorism trials in New York, including his attorney, Lynne Stewart.

The facts of the case shouldn't be too difficult to establish; a few years ago, it was openly noted in the Egyptian media that this was going on:
Last Thursday, the spiritual leader of the militant Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiya, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, affirmed from his US prison that he has withdrawn his support for the group's unilaterally declared truce. However, the statement was not exactly a call to revive the armed struggle against the government. Abdel-Rahman said he would leave the final verdict on the fate of the cease-fire to the Gama'a leadership in Egypt. Abdel-Rahman is serving a life sentence for conspiring to blow up the World Trade Centre in New York.


Originally, Abdel-Rahman had formally declared his support for the cease-fire. However, on 14 June Abdel-Rahman through his American lawyer, Lynne Stewart, stated that he had withdrawn his support because he believed the government had failed to reciprocate. This statement left Gama'a leaders divided on whether Abdel-Rahman was actually advocating a new wave of violence or merely calling for a re-evaluation of political strategy.
Still, it's a troubling case. It's built on wiretaps of conversations between attorney and client, and could give ammunition to Ashcroft's attempt to limit attorney-client privilege in alleged terrorism cases. It's a dangerous precedent, even if Ashcroft insists that this effort will be limited to terrorism cases.

Stewart, incidentally, has a rather, uh, interesting career, hanging out with the likes of nutcase Ramsey Clark. She has built a practice on defending the radical and unpopular, including mobster Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, Rahman, Larry Davis (an accused drug dealer who shot several members of the NYPD who came to his apartment to arrest him, claiming (successfully) self defense, and members of the "Ohio 7," a domestic terrorist group responsible for the murder of a New Jersey police officer, She also pled guilty once before to contempt charges for refusing to disclose the source of her fees in a drug case.

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