Refusing to collude with the FBI and resisting enlistment into the agency’s army of informants and agent provocateurs is proving to carry hefty consequences. The most recent case of Yonas Fikre is the latest in a string of punitive prosecutions that demonstrate the US government’s eagerness to punish Muslims for their unwillingness to become the devils’ advocates.
Yonas Fikre, an American Muslim now residing in Sweden, was tortured in the United Arab Emirates at the behest of the US government shortly after refusing to become an informant for the FBI.
On 1 May, less than three weeks after Fikre’s allegations were made public, the Justice Department charged Fikre, his brother, Dawit Woldehawariat, and a third man, Abrehaile Haile, with conspiring to hide $75.000 worth of money transfers to the UAE and Sudan from the government, all in violation of federal reporting requirements for large international financial transactions. Woldehawariat, Fikre’s brother, was also charged with failing to file a tax return in 2009 and 2010. There are no allegations of terrorism associated with the charges.
After being stranded abroad by being placed on the No-fly List, Yonas was ominously ’warned’ by a US official about a possible lack of co-operation during an initial courtship to endear his services: ‘The time to help yourself is now‘ the missive ended. Shortly after that, he was abducted and tortured.
Gadeir Abbas, a lawyer with the Council on American-Islamic Relations who has been working with Fikre, informed Mother Jones that the federal charges were retaliation for Fikre’s refusal to cooperate with the FBI.
‘It is disappointing but not surprising that the FBI is retaliating against Yonas by filing specious charges against him after they promised to make his life difficult after he refused to become their informant. While FBI agents lied to Yonas about many things, in this case, it seems that they have kept their word.’
Thomas Nelson, Fikre’s Portland, Oregon-based lawyer, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he was unaware of the charges against his client. But Abbas said he’s been in touch with Nelson since then and the two are working together to decide what to do next.