Interview with Ron Kuby
by Husayn Al-Kurdi
Ron Kuby, a partner of the renowned William Kunstler, has been the defense lawyer most involved in defending the people who are being swept up in "muslim conspiracy" trials which followed the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. Although the government’s official story keeps changing, with most of the media following course, it remains clear, as I have reported in previous articles, that the bombing of the World Trade Center and the incitement of various people to commit illegal acts is the responsibility of one Emad Salem, an FBl informant and sometime Egyptian government operative. During my interview with Kuby, the nature of the witch-hunts being directed towards Muslims was clarified as he showed how the "conspiracy" was of GOVERNMENT origin, with informant, Judge, prosecution and media all dutifully playing their parts.
Q. Was there anything in my previous articles on the World Trade Center bombing and the subsequent "conspiracy" trial that requires amendation, correction or amplification?
A. The article on the FBl being involved in the World Trade Center bombing actually UNDERSTATED the evidence, believe it or not. The informer, Emad Salem, is actually on tape saying that he built the bomb that ultimately blew up the World Trade Center.
In addition, we have received information that he was visually observed at the scene of the bombing shortly after the bombing took place. Shortly after that, he was admitted to the hospital, suffering from an ear problem that was consistent with exposure to blast.
Also, we know that he had a motive to blow up the World Trade Center, the motive being that he had been dealing with the FBl since at least November 1991, trying to convince the FBl that he had infiltrated a cell of radical Muslims, trying to get the FBl to pay him for his information. He kept going to the FBl with ever more hysterical statements about bombs and explosives. In the summer of 1992, the FBI, after apparently giving him a lie-detector test, refused to believe him anymore and cut him loose.
He needed a payoff. What better way for this sociopath, a conscienceless human being, than to actually bomb the World Trade Center? Indeed, within hours of the bombing, the FBl was back on the phone to him, promising him anything and everything if only he would help them crack the case. The FBl, having set this maniac loose, bears some of the responsibility for what happened.
Q. When did Emad Salem start to work for them?
A. We don’t know precisely. We do know he was affiliated with Egyptian intelligence for quite some time. The FBl officially acknowledges that Emad Salem began to work for them in November 1991, during the trial of Sayyid Nosair, at which Nosair was found not guilty of murdering Rabbi Meir Kahane. It was at that point that he infiltrated himself into the group supporting Sayyid Nosair. It was Emad Salem, as early as December of 1991, who was telling groups of these people that they should become more militant. At one point Emad Salem suggested they throw Molotov cocktails at a synagogue, at which the people listening were absolutely horrified and refused to have anything to do with him. After that, he toned down his rhetoric.
Q. What is the current situation, in the wake of the sentencing in the World Trade Center bombing conspiracy trial?
A. You will recall that all of these defendants, with the exception of one, were denied counsels of their choice. The Judge refused to appoint any of these lawyers because he didn’t like them. He didn’t want any activist movement political lawyers. So they had to leave the case and were replaced by this second-rate and even third-rate legal team. There was a disastrous defense which did everything wrong that could be done wrong. After the defendants were convicted, they fired all their lawyers and said they wanted William Kunstler and Ron Kuby. The Judge refused to allow us to enter the case. Judge Kevin Duffy, a longtime adversary of William Kunstler, wanted to keep control of the defense in the same way as he kept control over the prosecution. On sentencing day, we were even excluded from the courtroom.
Q. Reports have it that Sidig Ali, one of the defendants in the NEXT New York Muslim Conspiracy trial, is turning on everyone. What’s the score on that?
A. The government got to him through terror or promises or both. They were able to get him and turn him into a government witness. As a result, we no longer represent him. The government is using that as a way of throwing us off the case entirely. There is no doubt in my mind that the Judge is going to do exactly that.
They used to point to Sidig Ali as the "mastermind." Now Ramzi Yusef (recently captured in Pakistan and brought to the U.S.) is the "mastermind," according to what they’re putting out through the media.
It varies with the season. Originally it was just the group of four who blew up the World Trade Center, then it expanded and contracted and expanded again. It’s one of those permanent crimes-they just keep pasting new heads on their Wanted list.
They expect people to forget what they said just a week ago. They spent a year trying to convince the American people that Sidig Ali is the biggest terrorist who ever lived. Now they turn around and try to portray him as some kind of born-again American patriot.
Q. Where does that leave the defense of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman?
A. It’s an extremely serious event. By removing me and Kunstler from the defense team, you were really removing the only lawyers who weren’t paid by the government. Sheikh Omar is representing himself but was certainly counting on a collective group to work with him in that self-representation. It was a blow struck at the heart of the defense.
There seems to be a trend now in which cases are manufactured out of whole cloth and people are entrapped and convicted on "conspiracy" charges.
One frightening aspect from a civil liberties standpoint is the increasing use of informers whose job it is not to simply monitor or even just to observe and record illegal activities, but who actually are out creating crime that would never have taken place but for their own conduct. The best example of that is the [current trial], where you have Mr. Emad Salem going out in the Muslim community and preying on Muslims who are particularly vulnerable. In the aftermath of the ongoing tragic holocaust against Muslims in Bosnia, with the world standing by and doing nothing, you had groups of Islamic people who said, "Just as we had an obligation to defend people in Afghanistan, we have a similar obligation to defend our brothers and sisters in Bosnia." A group such as this was infiltrated by Emad Salem.
Q. Why is the FBl interested in going out and creating crime?
A. The answer is simple enough. In the aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing, the FBI was facing ferocious criticism in the United States. Remember that first you had the disaster at Waco where these children were murdered in the course of this insane shootout with these other religious "fundamentalists." Then you had the World Trade Center bombing. All over the country, people were wondering "What’s wrong with the FBI?".
What the FBI had to do was to go out and create a crime which they could prevent, a crime that would be so vast that it would make the World Trade Center bombing pale by comparison. So they sent Emad Salem out to create these crazy plots-blow up the United Nations and so on. At the end, the FBl said "Lights, camera, action!" and had a huge press conference at which they said, "We didn’t save the World Trade Center, but we prevented the bombing of the UN, the Holland Tunnel, the Lincoln Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge and the assassinations of Al D’Amato and Boutros Boutros-Ghali." They posed as Superman saving the world and everybody was congratulating them.
The papers the next day blared "New York Dodges a Bullet" and proclaimed "FBl Heroism." People were tragically misled by the FBl into believing that the FBl had in fact prevented something from taking place when the only thing they did was prevent the fruition of the very conspiracy that it had created itself.
Q. Are you going to get a chance to come back at Emad Salem and expose his role to the world?
A. We’re certainly going to do our best. He’s going to be called as a witness. We’ll see what happens.
Q. What are the prospects for appeal on the convictions from the first trial?
A. Of course, we have filed notices of appeal for all four of the defendants, but people have to understand that the courts in this country are no more immune to the kind of hysteria and anti-Islam sentiment that you see elsewhere in the country. Instead of being the guarantors of fundamental constitutional rights, too often we see these reactionary, and in many ways stupid, judges toadying to the very worst in American society rather than standing for the best in American society.
The tragedy in all of this is that we’re making the same old mistake as when we’ve interfered in the internal affairs of other countries, supporting corrupt dictatorships like the Shah of Iran and Hosni Mubarak against popular revolutionary forces. We fear those popular revolutionary forces. The U.S. is buying hatred and enmity for itself in places like Egypt. Why? If the people of Egypt want to live under Islamic law, then by God that’s their right. It is not the business of the United States government to meddle in these nations and dictate the kinds of government they should have.
Q. Ron, tell us something about your own background.
A. I came from a working-class family in the state of Ohio. I’m Jewish by religious background and when I was very young I belonged to a right-wing Zionist paramilitary organization. It’s not widely known, but I was a member of the Jewish Defense League when I was a teenager. My father was a Zionist, I became a Zionist. I knew Rabbi Meir Kahane-he was a family friend back in the late 1960s and early 1970s-before he emigrated to Israel.
I suppose what cured me of that type of Zionism was actually emigrating to Israel. I was expecting to see this paradise of Jews working together, living in peace and harmony with their neighbors, building a country. Instead, what I saw was this terrible racist country in which a small elite of Zionists controlled a Jewish working class and terrorized the Palestinian population. It was like being in the United States, except instead of the White establishment it was the Jewish establishment.
I found out that the people I had more in common with, the people whose physical company I enjoyed more, were the Palestinians. I ended up having many more Palestinian friends than I had Zionist friends, and eventually said to hell with the whole thing and ended up on the road that I’ve ended up on.
Q. What can and should be done in terms of support for the Sheikh and the others who have-and are continuing to be-railroaded in these "Muslim Conspiracy" trials?
A. The problem is that there has not been any organized Islamic response to this situation, and others do not know or hear about it much. Every time Muslims get together and try to raise a protest, they end up getting indicted!
Q. Just to get it on the record once again, if there is a "mastermind," then who is it?
A. The "mastermind" is the government of the United States. It was a phony, government-engineered "conspiracy" to begin with. It would never have amounted to anything had the government not planned it.
Other articles by Husayn Al Kurdi: on the Muslim Conspiracy Trials: "Islamic Fundamentalism-New Whipping Boy on the Block," The Alternative, 11/30/93; "Muslim Speaks Out Against War on Islam," The Final Call, 1/19/94; "World Trade Center Bombing Trial Raises Troubling Questions for FBl," The Espresso, 4/15/94; "Who Blew Up the World Trade Center?" Anderson Valley Advertiser, 4/20/94.
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