In a War on Terrorism that is so broad, it is easy for Americans to forget that the enemy is also local. There is a malignancy within our own society, often hidden behind political correctness.In this case the enemy is not Arabic, nor Muslim, but an ambitious white American lawyer, Lynne Stewart. Stewart has been the lawyer for Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for inspiring a thwarted 1993 plot to bomb the United Nations, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and other New York landmarks.
After he was sentenced, his followers in Egypt issued a series of threats against the United States demanding his release. Prosecutors imposed rules that barred Rahman, now a prisoner, from communicating with anyone outside prison but his lawyers and his wife.
Stewart, who is known for representing unpopular defendants, including convicted terrorists, found herself convicted last Thursday by a federal jury in Manhattan of aiding terrorism by smuggling messages out of jail from her terrorist client, a clear violation of the law. According to a Feb. 11 New York Times article, she had repeatedly signed sworn statements in May 2000 and
May 2001 in which she stated that she was upholding these laws. This adds two counts of perjury on top of the other violations she’s already committed.
It was uncovered that Stewart was involved in Rahman’s communicating with his followers. She brought a letter containing messages from Islamic Group members to a meeting with Rahman at his prison cell in May 2000.
Then, she received a statement from Rahman and passed it to a reporter in Cairo. So the result of these “prison meetings” is her possession and passing on of a terrorist’s instructions to his followers. The exact details of Rahman’s messages are not fully known, but essentially he was telling the terrorists to end a cease-fire in Egypt. Ironically, the group did not end the cease-fire, essentially ignoring the instructions of the message. However, they should have never believed the message in the first place. Stewart was found guilty, and rightfully so. The actions she took in breaking the law to pass a message from an incarcerated terrorist leader to his cronies in Egypt show that she indirectly participated in terrorist-related activities.
If you think it’s too extreme to call Stewart part of the enemy, consider this. Part of winningthe War on Terror is in disrupting the terrorists’ networks; for example, preventing the captured leaders from communicating with their associates. Stopping communication actually is vital to preventing terrorism. Yet here we have a lawyer for a terrorist in jail that is knowingly breaking the law, but also obstructing the War on Terror’s efforts by being the source of terrorist communications.
No one is above the law, not even ambitious lawyers. So what does she have to say for herself? Believe it or not, Stewart said that she sees herself as being “a symbol of what people rail against when they say our civil liberties are eroded.” Civil liberties? A lot of ridiculous acts have been protected under civil liberties, but this isn’t one of them. Civil liberties are important, but participating in terrorist groups isn’t covered under the Bill of Rights,especially when you’re breaking the law at the same time. Serving as a communicator to a sworn enemy is not a civil liberty. Actually, there is a word to describe the heinous acts of Ms. Stewart: treasonous.
Anthony Maalouf is a junior majoring in political science with a minor in Spanish.