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Post-9/11 FBI stings targeted innocent folks. As the US exits Afghanistan, they're still in jail.

Justice seems like a far-away dream for the real victims of the US' war on terror, those accused of alleged terrorist attack with no legal basis.

Post-9/11 FBI stings targeted innocent folks. As the US exits Afghanistan, they're still in jail.
Image Source: New York Prepares To Mark 16th Anniversary Of September 11th Attacks. NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 8. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, the United States government launched a war on terror. This included a series of terrorism stings on innocent families, led by officials in the FBI, US government bureaucrats, and prosecutors. Now, as the US withdraws from its 20-year imperialist project in Afghanistan, the victims of these stings continue to languish in prison. Since the 9/11 attacks, the federal government has prosecuted over 800 people on terrorism charges. Unfortunately, there is an overrepresentation of suspects who were "mentally deficient, marginalized, or otherwise vulnerable." They are yet to receive justice, The Intercept reports.


In the tense environment of a post-9/11 America, overzealous officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as prosecutors branded civilians who posed no real threat to the country as "enemies of the state." These individuals went on to receive long prison sentences, or otherwise had their lives dangerously interrupted due to convictions on charges of material support to terrorism. US officials have today signaled their desire to simply "move on" from the nation's 9/11 legacy, their careers well-padded as a result of the "terrorists" they "successfully" apprehended. However, for those affected by these injustices—and their families—moving forward is an impossible task.


Ramzi Kassem is a professor at the City University of New York School of Law and the founder of the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility project. He stated, "There hasn’t been any reckoning with the legacy of this era. Instead, people have moved on with their careers, often after scoring political points off these cases. Down the chain, that is kind of the story of the war on terror, at least domestically. Many prosecutors see these big splashy cases as a way to make a name for themselves and fulfill career ambitions. It is alarming when you look across these cases and see an overrepresentation of suspects who were mentally deficient, marginalized, or otherwise vulnerable being the targets of these sting operations, and it raises questions about the reality of the terrorist threat that was depicted by the FBI."


Shain, Dritan, and Eljvir Duka are only three of the 800 victims of the FBI's sting operations. They were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2009 for their alleged role in a plot to attack the Fort Dix military base in New Jersey. Following their conviction, then-US Attorney for the District of New Jersey Chris Christie ran a year-long "terrorism sting" involving multiple government informants. Their story, marred by "outrageous law enforcement and legal abuses," is documented in detail in a 2015 investigation by The Intercept. Their youngest brother Burim Duka shared, "My dad’s prayers before he passed away were the saddest thing in the world. He’d pray to God to bring his sons home, so he could see all of them together as a family one last time, and then he could die happy." Their father Ferik Duka had decades earlier brought his family to the United States from Albania in search of peace and opportunity.


The Duka brothers remain in prison to this day, waiting for a sympathetic administration to hear their case. The Biden administration's promise to "turn a page on the mistakes of the past" may be their only hope. Hundreds of other victims of the war on terror wait, perhaps in foolish optimism, for a similar outcome. "I just wish people higher up would read about this case," Burim said. "I want them to keep an open mind. I’m not asking for them to just free my brothers. I want them to read about what happened and say what they honestly think about their convictions. I really don’t ask for much. Even if I spoke to the president, I wouldn’t simply ask for a pardon. I just want people to pay attention to this."


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