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‘I feel whole and unbroken’: Shukri Abu Baker on the 6th anniversary of the Holy Land Foundation decision

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Dear family and friends, peace and blessings upon you.

On 11/24/2008 a Texas Jury found me and my comrades in the HLF case guilty on all counts. We were immediately locked up in Federal custody. Here are my “Sarcastically Serious” thoughts on our sixth anniversary.

It is getting cold out here and my bone structure is obediently yielding to the early chilled air. Six years behind bars must have beaten me into submission a little of which is worse than nothing. I find myself running errands is the space of time; my steps hesitant between proceeding and receding and my mind fixed on surviving the torment of the moment, albeit an endless moment. I’m mesmerized by the rapid state of my decline and the rate by which both my blood and my hair have been thinning, although I boldly think I look much more handsome bold!

Everyone tells me I walk too fast and wait for no one. Well, How else does any one expect me to walk in a place like this but alone? In this dismal “thing” which I exist in I tread from one end to another alone, except when some lonely inmate decides to tag along- but at my speed of choice. I walk solo for a huge advantage, though. Alone, I can process my vulnerability while still projecting an outer solidness, because in this dumpster, a perception of toughness is an existential need- not a mere luxury. Walking alone, I study my thoughts, I answerer my questions and question my answers, and I pray for my father and I sing for my grandson and I visit my daughter’s grave and I sob and I come home and I kiss my mom’s hand… and I live and I die… all within the privacy of both hemispheres in my brain where no one can reach or search or seize or wiretap.

Everything around me speaks in a wavelength audible only to me- and I don’t claim to have been endowed with super hearing. I listen to the looped razor-wire that sprawls on top of the fences and all climbable structures. I listen to the concrete control-towers that appear as if they stood erect the minute Earth found itself swimming in a pool of emptiness, and I listen to the footfalls, the key chains, the locking and unlocking of doors, the raucous yelling, the cussing, and the cat calling– and I listen to the sudden quietness that brings all movements to a halt. I listen intensely, and everything tells me that this is a graveyard unceremoniously leveled for the brilliantly wasted, the lost and never found again, and for those who in the cold of night set their prettiest dreams on fire.

O’ Allah! Is this where I really belong for now and tomorrow and for the next five decades?

I know!  I know it is unpatriotic to second guess a jury highly informed, a judge absolutely impartial, a prosecution unquestionably ethical, and most importantly, an expert witness extremely credible, albeit anonymous.  Further, I know that no one would frown upon a process that is impervious to prejudice, politics-free, and corruption proof, except a justice-hating fool- and I, certainly am no fool.

It sure is cold and cruel down here, and the chills that drill through the marrow in my bones make me rethink the amount of pain per square inch that I can take. I’m afraid this pain has what it takes to slow me down, if not put me to death.  But I don’t wish to die in a place like this, because the word is; those who die in prison may end up in shows like “Walking Dead”- and I don’t want to be both dead and walking at the same time. Simply, this is an act not commensurate with the skills of a man like me who doesn’t even know how to sleep walk, for starters.

However, when the time is right, I wouldn’t mind to die like my father, at home, where my wonderful wife of 32 years can brew me my last cup of Turkish coffee and whisper in my ears, “Bahibbak”( I love you) and maybe slide in a soft kiss when no one was looking, and where the local Imam can sit by my head and recite me some Quran in a angelical melody. That’s not all, I’m also open to dying Sanabel’s way; on a clean hospital bed in a room large enough to host all those who wish to show me some love as I heave my last breath on earth, and where by brother,Ramzi, can hold my hand like Zaira did her sister, and where my daughters Nida and Shurook can luxuriate their beautiful brown eyes with the peaceful look I left on my face. Yeah! under such conditions, I wouldn’t mind to expire, but, please, not in a filthy shower room, littered with bodily matter- known and unknown to me, and definitely not in an upper bunk bed where it is painful even for the dead to lay flat on his back.

Well, forget about dying altogether and let me move on to the weightier subject of slowing down. Those who know me well know that I’ll hate to lose my agility, creativity, and affability in prison. That happening would make it harder on me to call home every day and poke fun at my crazy-in-love-with-me queen. More, getting slow in the mind would complicate my relationship with the US Congress whereas it’ll become difficult for me to learn from them why the US funded, terror-minded Palestinian government still insist on building more Arab settlements on stolen Jewish land, and why they continue to spray peaceful Jewish demonstrators with live bullets, and why Palestine won’t end its military occupation of Israeli territories on which the Jewish people aspire to build their democratic state.

All being said, no way that I deserve the cruel and unusual punishment of dying or, worse, losing my mind in prison. I’m far too good for this because actually I’m a nice guy who is loved by all and hated by none, was it not- of course -for my regrettable crime of feeding and clothing and loving some Palestinian children- displaced, starved, and sickly. But how could I have realized at the time that some of these seemingly harmless creatures were in reality terrorists-to-be who would later use their delicate body parts to attack Israeli Air- to- School laser guided missiles?

No lying! Life in incarceration is skin scraping and heart scorching- cold was it out there of blazing hot. However, since neither slowing down nor dying in prison- any prison- is an option I would recommend for a man in my position, I decided instead to just pretend that in this place there is absolutely no 3-D suffering whatsoever; physical, psychological, or spiritual– and If there had been any in the past, it’s here no more. After year upon year of bone bending therapy which has taxed every aspect in my being while my family gradually downsized under the law of imminent demise- let me willingly and knowingly state on record that I feel whole and unbroken. In fact, I feel super loved and loving, and super grown and living. I feel dearly missed and tremendously blessed. I feel protected.

I feel strong– so strong I can do anything, anything -that is- but wait to come home.

Shukri Abu Baker

Shukri Abu Baker

Shukri Abu Baker is one of The Holy Land Five, a political prisoner sentenced to 65 years in a maximum security federal prison because of his dedication and charitable contributions all around the world, including the Palestinians in Gaza.

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2 Responses

  1. just on November 25, 2014, 5:51 am

    An essay unlike any other that I have read. Visceral, emotive, and so very sad while peppered with painful humor~ “Sarcastically Serious”, indeed.

    Thank you, Shukri. I fervently hope that you will be home again soon~ back where you and your humanity belong, with your family and with your freedom restored.

    Peace and blessings upon you.

    (just an aside. many groups all over the western world raise money for the IOF and celebrate their actions… mostly here in the US. Recently:

    “Star-studded gala raises $33 million for IDF
    Saban-led Friends of the IDF fundraiser in Beverly Hills draws Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Streisand – and $9 million from Oracle founder.

    LOS ANGELES – Not one eye in the massive ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel stayed dry when Zur Goldin, the identical twin of a Givati officer killed during Operation Protective Edge, asked the 1,200 guests to stand for a moment of silence in honor of his brother and his fellow soldiers who fell in Gaza.”,7340,L-4589328,00.html

    why is this a- ok?)

  2. CigarGod on November 25, 2014, 10:02 am

    Mw is a well of the rarest kind of life giving water.

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