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US immigration officials detain and interrogate Imran Khan about drones and who’s pushing the State Department

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Imran Khan

U.S. Immigration detained Imran Khan in Canada on Saturday as he was boarding a plane for New York to attend a fundraiser. They  interrogated him for 2 hours over his views on drones.

Khan made big waves last month leading an anti-drone march to Waziristan to protest against American drone strikes. But more importantly he is very likely to be Pakistan’s next President or Prime Minister.

Khan is attractive, charismatic, generous, one of the greatest all-rounders in the history of test cricket, and extremely well loved.

Why would the U.S. issue him a visa and then detain him when his views are already wellknown? Khan said his stand on drones was “very clear “and “I still couldn’t understand why they did this. The official was questioning me about drones but I think he himself didn’t understand what he was talking about.” Glenn Greenwald calls it “vindictive humiliations….a breach of the most basic diplomatic protocol” and part of a “trend” to harass anti-drone advocates. But I am more interested in the right-wing’s nefarious favorite Muslim poster boy connected to the Third Jihad who’s pressuring Hillary Clinton to bar Imran Khan from entering the U.S.. More on that below, first Glenn Greenwald.

The Guardian:

[T]his reflects the Obama administration’s view that critics of its drone policies are either terrorists or, at best, sympathetic to terrorists. Recall how the New York Times earlier this year – in an article describing a new report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documenting the targeting of Pakistani rescuers and funerals with US drones – granted anonymity to a “senior American counterterrorism official” to smear the Bureau’s journalists and its sources as wanting to “help al-Qaida succeed”.

For years, Bush officials and their supporters equated opposition to their foreign policies with support for the terrorists and a general hatred of and desire to harm the US. During the Obama presidency, many Democratic partisans have adopted the same lowly tactic with vigor.

That mindset is a major factor in this series of harassment of drone critics: namely, those who oppose the Obama administration’s use of drones are helping the terrorists and may even be terrorist sympathizers. It is that logic which would lead US officials to view Khan as some sort of national security threat by virtue of his political beliefs and perceive a need to drag him off a plane in order to detain and interrogate him about those views before allowing him entrance to the US.

Reportedly speculations have been made Khan’s detainment may have been related to a letter to Hillary Clinton from the American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC). The group consider themselves strategists for counter terrorism (pdf).

Notice the name in tiny font at the embedded link at the right side of the press release.

#Imran Khan Pakistan AILC M Zuhdi Jasser Zuhdi Jassr Hillary Clinton

The American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC), Press Release:

Secretary Clinton should bar Imran Khan from entering the U.S.

Anti-American politician should not have access to U.S. to fundraise for Islamist Extremism

WASHINGTON, DC (October 23, 2012) — The American Islamic Leadership Coalition released the following statement in response to the announced visit of Pakistani politician Imran Khan to the U.S.:

“Secretary Hillary Clinton needs to revoke the U.S. visa granted to Imran Khan, founder of the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Imran Khan is an anti-American politician who regularly defends the Taliban and justifies its action as “Jihad.” In June 2011 he stated that “Confronting the U.S. won’t destroy us (Pakistan). Look at Iran. What have they been able to do with Iran, a country that does not even have nuclear weapons?”

Khan is scheduled to speak at a fundraising dinner and Eid celebration in New York on October 26. In a promotional e-mail, the American organizers of the event claim “All the money raised will be used to change the political as well as social structure of Pakistan by implementing the law across the board, Insha’Allah (Allah be willing).”

The “law” Imran Khan wishes to implement in Pakistan is a medieval interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence, whose application is often devoid of spirituality and compassion. For example, Imran Khan is on record stating “As Muslims we are bound by Sharia and if the Taliban are enforcing that, we should welcome it, not be fearful of it.”

The U.S. Embassy made a significant error in granting this Islamist leader a visa and Secretary Clinton should exert the power of her position and revoke the visa immediately. Granting individuals like Khan access to the U.S. to fundraise is against the interest of the people of Pakistan and the national security interests of the U.S.”

Zuhdi Jasser is president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), famous as the main narrator in the Clarion Fund’s Islamophobic film, The Third Jihad, Adam Serwer’s Muslim Group Leader to NYPD: Thanks for Spying on Us , a “Muslim witness” at  Peter King’s ‘Muslim radicalization’ hearings and mentioned by Max Blumenthal in a list of Who’s Who of anti-Muslim outfits.

The good news is Imran Khan made it into the U.S. What scares me is the thought our State Department takes groups like AILC, and individuals like Jasser, seriously. Probably just a coincidence, let’s hope.

(Hat tip Alex Kane)

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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24 Responses

  1. bobsmith
    October 28, 2012, 4:44 pm

    I’m sure there are those who think this is something that only Bush or Putin would do. It must come as a surprise that Obama is no different.

    • annie
      October 28, 2012, 6:12 pm

      no surprise bob

      • pabelmont
        October 29, 2012, 10:20 am

        Who directed this (Israel-like) issuance-of-a-visa-and-then-near-revocation-of-the-same-visa? Obama, Clinton, and (to be sure) all the lower folks who make up a more-or-less permanent bureaucracy which has its own momentum. It is hard work to change momentum. Witness the generals who mis-directed the Iraq war for so long. Ideas are hard to change; nasty intolerant ideas may be hardest to change because the bureaucrat wants to keep on the good side of bosses who may be allergic to discussion (e.g., of change). Might there be — shudder — neocons in DoS?

      • Diane Mason
        Diane Mason
        October 29, 2012, 1:29 pm

        Craig Murray has a post up about who is behind the American Islamic Leadership Coalition – the astroturf operation that urged Hillary to revoke the visa:

      • annie
        October 29, 2012, 5:14 pm

        thanks diane

        interesting, murray puts the right pieces together but misses the biggest clue about who wrote the letter from the very website/press release he links to. the message on the right in the tiny font (which i blockquoted above)

        #Imran Khan Pakistan AILC M Zuhdi Jasser Zuhdi Jassr Hillary Clinton

        if you go to the website and click on it, it leads right to that AILC letter. kinda outs the author.

  2. gamal
    October 28, 2012, 8:51 pm

    Several times in articles about Khan his name is rendered as Kahn, isnt that an eastern European spelling for Cohen? is this a spell checker glitch, my spellchecker accepts Khan but not Kahn. Weird.

    In 2005 the US granted a visa to the diminutive 82 year old Sheikh Dr MAZ Badawi KBE, he was to address the Chatauqua something or other, on arrival he was held and questioned for 6 hours, during which he was not even offered a glass of water, then marched under armed guards and put on a plane back to the UK , after voluntarily withdrawing his request for entry, the US ambassador privately wrote a contrite letter of apology, and he was issued with another invitation but he died before it came round.
    These acts vastly strengthen those forces within the Muslim world who see no possibility for accommodation with the western powers, the question is, is the “West” prepared to live at peace with the rest of the world, the evidence would seem to suggest not, so called moderates with the Muslim world are constantly played for fools by the “West” and find their hands progressively weakened ceding ground oddly enough to sectarian and other regressive forces who are often in open alliance, as in Bosnia, Libya, Syria and the whole nest of iniquity that is to be found in the authorities of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, with these same western powers.

    The problems for those struggling in the Muslim world are almost insurmountable in their complexity and the bases for solidarity are fast disappearing, as Finkelstein has pointed out we need a new language and new ideas to express Humanities urgent need for mutual care and respect. The Muslims under pretty much continuous assault for more than a century are succumbing to exhaustion, every attempt to attain a liveable society is being frustrated by a combination of local forces in an ever changing kaleidoscope of temporary alliances and the over-arching power of foreign overlords.
    The language of Socialism, that once held out the promise of a decent life for developing societies is dead and the Islamists, when not indebted to this Socialist past, which very many are, rely on platitudes or superficial and proscriptive renderings of Islamic ideologies. Those who aspire to sufi or “spiritual” versions of Islam have retired from the political arena for the time being.

    below is an article that captures the fractures underway from may 2012

    The left’s attitude to Egypt’s Islamists has long been a point of debate – Revolutionary Socialist Hossam el-Hamalawy says a sit‑in at Egypt’s Ministry of Defence shows it’s vital to take sides

    During a march last week, a young comrade I know from Cairo University approached me— a medical student who was among the field hospital doctors during the Ministry of Defence (MoD) sit-in.

    He told me of a Salafi woman in niqab, who kept on kissing the Revolutionary Socialists red flag during the sit-in, shouting, “Forgive me, I didn’t know about you before!”

    I replied with the story of another comrade who was entering the sit-in and was being searched by a Salafi sheikh.

    When the sheikh found the flag of the Revolutionary Socialists, Marxist books, as well as issues of The Socialist newspaper in their bag, he told the young student, “Come in son, may God be with you!”

    These were just two stories, among many, witnessed by our comrades during the controversial sit-in.

    The language of Socialism seems dead except to Islamists

    • annie
      October 31, 2012, 12:27 am

      gamal, your comments are some of the most unique, informed and interesting i’ve encountered anywhere. perhaps one day we’ll end up by happenstance at a table in a dark cafe and i will be quite satisfied to listen into the wee hours of the night.


      • gamal
        October 31, 2012, 5:54 am

        dear Annie you have actually made me weep,

        it is an inconceivably kind and generous thing to say about my ravings, from the bottom of my heart thank you, not because i think i have as a result attained some accolade but for reaching out to an irascible old fool, and reminding me when i was lost, and despairing, that its one love, i never mean to be disrespectful but my mind/heart burns with a love that i can neither contain nor actualize, what a worthless man, i am tongue tied.

        below i have posted links not just to the real voice of faith and its unimaginable richness, its a mere half hour it is the only thing i have to offer in respect of the enormous gift you have bestowed on me, through you i find myself. one love.

        and in that cafe, could be bar also, as if you would not have enough to teach the likes of me, strong black coffee, sour bourbon and some bitter proudzionized olives, the black and the green, are all we would need.

        The real voice of Religion

        Part Two

        Final part

  3. RoHa
    October 28, 2012, 11:19 pm

    “U.S. Immigration detained Imran Khan in Canada”

    In Canada? How can U.S. immigration officials have to power to detain someone who is not on U.S. soil?

    And isn’t this great diplomacy with a probable future PM?

    • CloakAndDagger
      October 29, 2012, 3:29 am


      At most Canadian airports with flights to the US, US immigration checks are done right there, allowing the flight to then become a domestic flight to anywhere in the US. I guess it was found to be more efficient as there are more US destinations than Canadian ones.

      This does not happen in the reverse direction, and Canadian immigration is in Canada.

    • Walid
      October 29, 2012, 3:43 am

      RoHa, US imigration officials are posted at major international airports in Canada at gates to flights to the US only, to screen people getting on flights to the US. Once cleared by these officials, there aren’t any further questions asked once the plane lands in the US. It saves time and line-ups at American airports receiving international flights.

      • Walid
        October 29, 2012, 4:34 am

        RoHa, again, there is nothing offensive about having US immigration officials checking passports of people heading for the US, it’s been in effect for almost 3 decades. If you’re looking for something offensive to criticize, look into Canadian Bill C-42 from 2011, another Israel-inspired law that was passed on the quiet while the natives were busy with other issues.

        It a nutshell, it piggy-backs on a US Homeland thing that has airlines flying towards the US providing Homeland with the passenger manifest to pre-approve those on it 72 hours before the scheduled departure time. What C-42 does is to have airlines from Europe or Asia or elsewhere flying directly to Canada provide the passenger manifest to US Homeland for its pre-approval to ensure that there are no US-designated no-fly passengers on it, even on those flights not passing through US airspace, on the premise that in an emergency, the airliner “may” have to make an emergency landing in the US and thereby putting American security at risk by a bad passenger on board.

        Although the law appears to cover only international flights flying in and out of Canada, it actually covers all Canadian domestic flights that have American airports as the designated airports in case of required emergency landing, and this translates into 75% of all domestic flights. A Canadian civil liberties coalition tried to block passage of this law when it sent a letter to all Canadian MPs but failed to get them to block it; the letter said:

        “… by adopting C-42 and enabling the U.S to obtain more information on travelers and to share this information with third countries with dubious human rights records, Canada could become an accomplice in the U.S. rendition program already responsible for the torture of Canadians in Syria and Egypt, among others. At the very least, it would support Canadian complicity with a foreign government’s program that violates due process and the principles of natural justice.”

        RoHa, guess which third countries are being discussed in the above letter. I’d say probably the country that also introduced profiling at American and Canadian airports and inspired laws that have now been passed about it. This is more worrying than US immigration officials at Canadian airports that are really very courteous and friendly.

      • RoHa
        October 29, 2012, 8:02 pm

        “RoHa, again, there is nothing offensive about having US immigration officials checking passports of people heading for the US”

        Checking passports seems harmless, but three hours of detention and interrogation doesn’t.

        But if the Canadians will pass that C-42, I can’t expect them to stick up for themselves in other ways.

        (And I am not implying that the Australian government will show any more backbone.)

      • RoHa
        October 30, 2012, 2:21 am

        (And note that the “will” in ” if the Canadians will pass” is not a sign of the future tense. It means “are willing to”.)

  4. seafoid
    October 29, 2012, 1:46 am

    Adam Sewer is the name of an
    Islamophobe? How appropriate.

  5. seafoid
    October 29, 2012, 10:32 am

    Drones aren’t working. . Killing for the sake of killing is called nihilism, not strategy. The US has no coherent plan to deal with Afghanistan/Pakistan

    • tear-stained uzi
      tear-stained uzi
      October 29, 2012, 8:20 pm

      Of course, they’re working! The modern “Security State” needs a constant, never-ending supply of “terrorists;” what better way to generate them? Especially when we target the subsequent funerals and emergency medical first-responders.

      It’s genius! (and one more thing we’ve learned from those high-IQ, most-moral Israelis!)

      • seafoid
        October 30, 2012, 6:03 pm

        What is the end goal? Why is the US killing people there? What does it achieve other than the end of the American century?

  6. DICKERSON3870
    October 29, 2012, 4:57 pm

    RE: “Zuhdi Jasser is president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy” ~ Annie Robbins

    MY VERSION: Zuhdi Jasser is president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for (so-called) Democracy . . .

    MUCH LIKE: The (proto-fascist) Foundation for Defense of (so-called) Democracies
    SEE: “Thinktank that promoted war w/ Iraq (& now Iran) was funded by Steinhardt, Saban, Bronfman, Feith and Marcus (of Home Depot)”, by Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 7/19/11
    LINK –


  7. piotr
    October 29, 2012, 8:30 pm

    In good old days (1981) when I was detained for few hours by INS I was offered not only a beverage but also a tuna fish sandwich. But this was because I tried to make a shortcut through Canada without having visa extension in my passport. Interviews concerning political views at the border crossing are somewhat bizarre in concept, what a person working at Toronto airport can know about subtle points of the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan?

    Perhaps more than a Washington think-tankers, or at least, he/she may suffer from fewer misconceptions. But in the most optimistic scenario, Imran Khan managing to educate some immigration airport clerk, I doubt that this knowledge will be passed anywhere, most probably it will find a safe grave in his folder.

    Imran Khan is a political virgin so he is not tainted (yet?) with tragic dichotomies of may Muslim countries (and not only Muslim). One dichotomy is hopeless corruption of secular politicians and backward fanaticism of religious politicians (slightly misleading because all of them are religious after a fashion, kind of like in USA for that matter). The second dichotomy is giving free reign to armed radicals or mayhem of dirty war with torture, arbitrary detension, random killings and worse. “Third way” can be a badly compromised slogan in Western politics, but it is something badly needed in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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