March 8, 2007, - 3:30 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Yes, I generally like the Kurds. Many were singled out as victims of Saddam Hussein’s brutality, and many Kurdish Muslims were civil and good to Kurdish Jews.
But unlike those of you who discovered Islam after 9/11, I’ve known about the Kurds far longer and appreciate the nuance that not all Kurds are our friends. Many of you do not. Not all Kurds are beyond reproach.
When I wrote about Kurdish Islamic terrorist Ibrahim Parlak–whom two immigration courts want deported and have labeled a terrorist–some people defended him because, hey, “he’s a Kurd.” Roger Ebert wasn’t the only one who didn’t appreciate the nuance (as in this movie review of his, in which he mentioned me and Parlak and defended all Kurds), as some of the commenters on this site also used the Kurd excuse.
But, in fact, Parlak trained in Islamic terrorist training camps in Lebanon, and it’s pretty obvious where his sympathies lie. He’s admittedly a member of the PKK, a Kurdish terrorist group allied with Al-Qaeda.
Now, we have another Kurd in America who doesn’t deserve our sympathy, Yassin Aref. Aref and Mohammed Hossain are leaders of a mosque in Albany, New York. They were convicted of conspiring to support terrorism through money laundering. Aref had ties to Kurdish terrorists holding sway in Syria. Syria–not our friend. Kurds who like Syria and hang out their–not our friends either.
More from The Jerusalem Post:
Two leaders of a city mosque snared in an FBI sting involving a fictional terror strike could face decades in prison when they are sentenced Thursday in federal court.
Yassin Aref, the former imam at an Albany mosque, and pizzeria owner Mohammed Hossain were convicted in October for their role in a money laundering scheme involving an FBI informant who pretended to be an illegal arms dealer.
The informant asked Hossain to launder money from the sale of a shoulder-fired missile that would be used to kill a Pakistani diplomat in New York City. Aref, spiritual leader of Hossain’s mosque, acted as a witness to the transactions.
Though the assassination plot was fictional, prosecutors in 2004 accused the pair of supporting terrorism.
Hossain, 52, a naturalized US citizen from Bangladesh, was convicted on all 27 charges against him, including three counts of conspiracy.
Aref was found guilty of 10 of the 30 charges against him. In addition to counts related to the money laundering scheme, the 36-year-old Kurdish refugee was found guilty of lying to FBI agents about having known a terrorist leader, Mullah Krekar, when he worked for a Kurdish political organization in Syria.
Assistant US Attorney William Pericak has said both men face 30 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Defense attorneys Terence Kindlon and Kevin Luibrand have sought more lenient sentences for the two men, who are both raising families.
Pericak had argued during trial that Hossain wanted money, while Aref was drawn into the plot by ideology.
Yes, most Kurds are good people and very pro-American. But some are not. And we must get away from the lack of nuance when it comes to this group, which has a lot of tight connections with Syria.
Don’t forget: The PKK’s leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was living in Syria under the auspices of the Assads for years. That’s not a good thing, when you consider his allegiance and those of his followers, which predictably leans toward the Assads, thus Mr. Aref’s willingness to launder money for terrorism.
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