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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Why Americans don't know what to believe
Posted by Jill | 6:42 AM
I woke up this morning to a news report that a New York businessman has has been arrested for plotting to provide money to terrorist camps in Afghanistan.

Looking for more information, I found these two very different treatments of the same story.

First, CBS News:

Terrorism charges brought Friday against the administrator of a loan investment program claimed that he secretly tried to send $152,000 to the Middle East to buy equipment such as night vision goggles for a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.

Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, 53, of Ardsley, N.Y., pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to an indictment accusing him of terrorism financing, material support of terrorism and other charges. The charges carried a potential penalty of 95 years in prison.

Alishtari, also known as Michael Mixon, was detained pending a court appearance next week after Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan S. Kolodner said Alishtari was a danger to the community and a risk to flee. He was arrested on Thursday in Manhattan, prosecutors said.

Alishtari's court-appointed lawyer, Richard Greenfield, said he was not familiar enough with the case to present a bail package. Outside court, Greenfield declined to comment.

The indictment said Alishtari tried to support terrorists between June and December by accepting an unspecified amount of money to transfer $152,000 that he believed was being sent to Pakistan and Afghanistan to support an Afghanistan terrorist training camp.

He believed the money would be used to fund the purchase of night vision goggles and other equipment, the indictment said.


CBS News has confirmed that Alishtari is a donor to the Republican Party, as he claims on his curriculum vitae. Alishtari gave $15,500 to the National Republican Campaign Committee between 2002 and 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records. That amount includes $13,000 in 2003, a year when he claims to have been named NRCC New York State Businessman of the Year.

Alishtari also claims to be a lifetime member of the National Republican Senate Committee's Inner Circle, which the NRCC describes as "an impressive cross-section of American society – community leaders, business executives, entrepreneurs, retirees, and sports and entertainment celebrities – all of whom hold a deep interest in our nation's prosperity and security."

Now, the New York Post:

A Westchester businessman and purported peace activist was nabbed by the feds for allegedly plotting to funnel more than $150,000 to terrorists at training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, an American-born Moroccan from Ardsley, was ordered held without bail yesterday for agreeing to send $152,000 overseas to pay for night-vision goggles and other equipment for terrorists during an FBI sting operation.

The accused terror buyer was nabbed by the FBI Thursday and charged with providing material support to terrorists, as well as money-laundering and wire-fraud charges, which carry a maximum of 95 years in prison.

Prior to his arrest, Alishtari, 53, also known as Michael Dixon, had agreed to cooperate with law enforcement. But the deal fell through before he provided substantial assistance, according to a source close to the case.

Alishtari also is accused of swindling millions of dollars in a bogus Bronx-based loan program.

Defense lawyer David Greenfield entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Alishtari and declined further comment.

Alishtari drew media attention in 2003 for launching an annual movie project in Florida called Global Peace Film Festival.

The self-described activist has also posted poetry on numerous Web sites advocating peace and radical Muslim ideology
, as well as personal pledges to dedicate his time and money to stopping child slavery, fraud and violence.

You've got to love the sinister linkage between peace and radical Muslim ideology. That's the kind of framing even George Lakoff would love.

But the more important question is the Post's (and most of the other media outlets reporting this story) neglect to mention Alishtari's Republican connections, which are easily documentable, and it's attempt to tie him to "peace groups" (read: Cindy Sheehan, Moveon.org, the Democratic Party) by noting his Orlando-based film festival and his crime of posting wussy-ass poetry on web sites.

It sounds to me that Mr. Alishtari, whatever his connections to terrorism, was doing what all good businessmen do -- covering both sides of the plate, just in case.

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