Feds Break Into Homes, Seize Documents, Subpoena ActivistsDenounce FBI Raids on Leftist
Antiwar and Solidarity Activists
Imperialist War Abroad Means Police-State Repression “At Home”
At around 7 a.m. Friday, September 24, agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) barged into eight homes in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Chicago, Illinois, breaking down doors in a coordinated raid against leftist activists. Agents seized papers, computers, cell phones and personal items of Hatem Abudayyeh, Joseph Iosbaker and Stephanie Weiner in Chicago, and served Thomas Burke of Chicago with a subpoena ordering him to appear before a grand jury investigating “material support to terrorism.” In the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, agents raided the homes of Meredith Aby, Mick Kelly, Tracy Molm, Anh-Thu Pham, Jessica Sundin, and the offices of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee. FBI spokesmen said that “interviews” were being conducted across the country. No arrests have been made or charges reported, yet about a dozen activists have been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury, whose proceedings are secret.
In Minneapolis on Friday evening, over 100 gathered at an emergency meeting at a church to express their solidarity with the targeted activists. Protests outside of federal offices across the U.S. are planned for this week. These raids are a blatant attempt to criminalize leftist politics, antiwar and solidarity advocacy and political dissent generally. Those targeted include University of Minnesota and University of Illinois staff members and unionists who have been outspoken in opposition to U.S. policies. They include activists associated with Students for a Democratic Society, the Colombia Action Network and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO-Fightback) group. The labor movement and all defenders of democratic rights should respond with powerful mobilizations to denounce this political persecution, the latest in the “home front” of the imperialist “war on terror.” An injury to one is an injury to all!
One of the warrants authorizes search and seizure of papers, property and electronic records related to alleged violation of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). The warrant bandies about charges, citing no evidence whatsoever, of having “supported, attempted to support or conspired to support” the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and Hezbollah, the Islamist political party in Lebanon. But the main object of the FBI’s fishing expedition appears to be to the finances, members, recruiting and structure of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. The Internationalist Group defends the activists targeted by these raids and demands a halt to the grand jury and the government “investigations,” spying on and attempts at intimidation of leftists and anti-war activists!
The AEDPA, signed by Democratic president Bill Clinton, prescribes up to ten years in prison for anyone who “knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so.” These deliberately vague terms are used to suppress political dissent and erase democratic rights that are supposedly guaranteed by the Constitution. The Center for Constitutional Rights, which issued an 88-page report on The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the U.S. the same day as the raids, notes that the AEDPA’s “material support” clause has been construed to include “humanitarian aid, expert advice, and political advocacy, to any foreign entity that the Executive branch decides to designate as a ‘terrorist’ group.”
Thus courageous civil liberties defense attorney Lynne Stewart is in federal prison today for supposed “material support” to her client – holding a press conference! The AEDPA is also infamous for restricting the right of prisoners on death row from suing for their freedom even when new evidence of innocence and judicial misconduct comes to light. These provisions have been used against the renowned black radical journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, an innocent victim of a racist political frame-up on Pennsylvania’s death row for the last quarter century, among many others.
This is a classic red squad frame-up job, from the federal police organization that began in the first “red scare,” Woodrow Wilson’s police raids and deportations of thousands of union organizers, radicals and socialists during the first imperialist world war. The Twin Cities Anti-War Committee played a central role in organizing the demonstrations against the Republican Party convention in St. Paul in 2008. Before and during that event over 300 activists were arrested, some charged with felony “conspiracy to commit riot” charges, while Minneapolis/St. Paul was transformed into an armed camp. The only rioters to be found were the riot police, who assaulted peaceful protest marchers with tear gas, concussion grenades, and pepper spray. While most of the trumped-up charges have been dropped, some defendants go to trial on October 25.
The U.S. “war on terror,” which has brought nine years of mass murder and chaos to the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq and now Pakistan, has been from the beginning an assault on elementary democratic rights “at home.” In the weeks following 11 September 2001, the FBI rounded up thousands of Arab, South Asian and Muslim immigrants, subjecting them to indefinite detention without charges. This was soon accompanied by the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, a wholesale assault on civil liberaties which was rammed through Congress with the bipartisan support of both capitalist parties. The Democratic Obama administration picked up where the Republican George W. Bush left off, blocking investigations of torture, vastly expanding warrantless wiretapping, and now demanding unfettered access to everyone’s e-mail. The behemoth of the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the FBI and the ICE immigration police, deports nearly 400,000 immigrants annually, a number which has increased sharply under Obama.
This war is a war to ensure world domination by U.S. imperialism. It goes hand in hand with the war on working people, immigrants and democratic rights here. The goal of Democrats, Republicans and their FBI goons is to make all resistance to the capitalist order illegal. They target anyone who is seen to be on the side of the working class, the oppressed Black minority and immigrants. In justifying a violent police attack on San Francisco Bay Area longshoremen and antiwar protesters on 7 April 2003, a spokesman for the state’s Anti-Terrorism Information Center argued “if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that’s being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that.” Yet the longshoremen and protesters refused to be intimidated, and on May Day 2008, dock workers shut down every port on the West Coast to stop the war on Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Sept. 27, the San Francisco Labor Council unanimously passed a motion condemning the recent raids, noting: “The FBI raids are reminiscent of the Palmer Raids, McCarthy hearings, J. Edgar Hoover, and COINTELPRO, and mark a new and dangerous chapter in the protracted assault on the First Amendment rights of every union fighter, international solidarity activist or anti-war campaigner.…”
The real terrorists are the Pentagon generals and Wall Street CEOs, and their politicians of both capitalist parties. To these warmongers, “terrorism” is the watchword under which they shred democratic rights and condemn millions around the world to the horrors of war. They use the indiscriminate terror attacks of “9/11” as a ploy to justify an expanding war to intimidate the world into submission. Their evidenceless insinuations that the FRSO provides “material support” to those the U.S. brands as terrorists are a cynical device to hide the real intent of these raids: to disrupt an organization that protests and opposes the ongoing terrorism against civilian populations committed by the U.S. and its allied regimes, the states of Israel and Colombia.
The Internationalist Group defends the FRSO and all those targeted for political persecution under the U.S.’ terrorist “war on terror.” We seek to mobilize the power of the international, multiracial working class to defeat “our own” imperialist rulers – and to put an end to the capitalist system that produces endless war – through international socialist revolution. Our defense is based on the principle of non-sectarian defense of all victims of capitalist state repression, irrespective of political differences.
In fact, while the IG opposed both Obama and McCain in the 2008 actions, most reformist left groups tried to sidle up to the Democratic nominee. The FRSO went further than most and openly supported Obama. It claimed in an editorial (“2008 Presidential Elections: Defeat McCain,” 5 June 2008) that: “The facts are plain; Obama parts ways, to a degree, with Clinton on the Iraq War, free trade agreements and racism. He has a message of hope with wide appeal.... his election will create a better political climate for the anti-war, immigrant rights, labor and national movements.” Not so.In reality, as genuine Marxists warned, a vote for Obama was a vote for more war, more domestic repression, and more attacks on the labor movement. That is what happened, and now this is thrown into stark relief as the Obama administration takes aim at some of its leftist supporters, with more to come. We call to unchain workers’ power to defeat this latest attack on our rights. Working people should break with the Democratic Party of racist police repression and imperialist war, and forge a revolutionary workers party that champions the struggle of all the oppressed. ■
Since this statement was issued on September 28, 14 activists subpoenaed to appear before a Chicago grand jury have courageously refused to testify or cooperate with the FBI’s sinister fishing expedition.
To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org