Founder Sami al-Arian was arrested for terrorist activities
Asserted that counter-terrorism laws were informed by racism and anti-Muslim bigotry
Defunct since November 2006
The National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (NCPPF) stated that its mission was “to defend the constitutional rights in the United States of political association and due process for immigrants and citizens alike," and “to help change the political climate to support due process and First Amendment rights by facilitating effective legal and political action.” “As a coalition,” said NCPPF, “we take no position on [the] correctness of any political cause or conflict so that we may advocate for the right to any of them to be fully expressed in the U.S.”
Al-Arian, who also founded the World Islam Study Enterprise, created NCPPF as a response to the "Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996," whose recent passage (by a 91 to 8 margin in the U.S. Senate) had been inspired by Timothy McVeigh’s April 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 175 people. The 1996 Act contained a number of key provisions to combat terrorism, most notably: (a) a provision making it a criminal offense to provide "material support" or "expert advice or assistance" to terrorist groups; (b) a provision allowing federal investigators to use secret evidence in terrorism cases; and (c) a provision authorizing the U.S. government to designate organizations as terrorist groups based upon available evidence. As a result of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act, Palestinian Islamic Jihad was officially declared a terrorist entity. Al-Arian's interest in forming NCPPF was inspired not only by his desire to protect PIJ, but also by an immediate personal concern: Because the 1996 Act allowed the admission of secret evidence in terrorist cases, his brother-in-law Mazen al Najjar (a PIJ supporter) had been arrested and was in the process of being deported.
From its founding, NCPPF endeavored to build a resistance movement of hard-left activists and organizations that collectively lobbied and litigated against U.S. counter-terrorism laws, provided legal counsel to terrorist suspects, and worked to overturn terrorist convictions in court. Among these NCPPF member groups were:
The Ad Hoc Committee for Imad Hamad, which worked to stymie the efforts of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the INS) to deport its namesake, widely suspected of being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
The Committee for Justice for the L.A. Eight, which supported the cause of three additional PFLP operatives accused by U.S. prosecutors of having provided material support for terrorist activities
The Committee for Justice for Nasser Ahmed, which lobbied on behalf of its Egyptian-born namesake, believed to be a confidante and paralegal to terrorist leader Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman; upon his 1999 release, Ahmed issued fulsome praise for NCPPF’s lawyers, stating that they "worked very hard for my release"
The Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace, which received a $10,000 donation just weeks after the 9/11 attacks from the International Institute of Islamic Thought, a Saudi charity that was the subject of a U.S. financing probe for its role in subsidizing terrorism
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which established itself as a prominent backer of terrorism in the1980s when it celebrated Soviet-sponsored guerrilla campaigns in Latin America and extolled the cause of Palestinian terror networks like the Palestine Liberation Organization and the PFLP
The Irish Northern Aid Committee, which was established for the express purpose of funding the terrorist tactics of the Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Muslim American Society, a Muslim Brotherhood front group whose Communications Director Randall Royer in 2002 was charged by federal agents with conspiring with the Pakistani Wahhabist group Lashkar-I-Taiba to commit terrorism in Kashmir, Chechnya and elsewhere
The NCPPF's endeavored to draw a distinction between actual terrorism on the one hand, and involvement with groups that engage in terrorism on the other. A July 2003 NCPPF paper detailed the organization's fears about what it called government-imposed "draconian measures in the name of national security." In that document, the NCPPF fretted that one "disturbing trend we identify is an increase in prosecutions based on the imposition of guilt because of their association with individuals and groups associated with terrorism."
The NCPPF mission to raze legal barriers to terrorist activity held allure allure for a number of radical leftist legal groups. One such organization, the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), is the self-proclaimed "legal arm of the movement for black liberation." NCBL has come to the aid of convicted murderers like Assata Shakur, Mumia Abu Jamal, and Geronimo Pratt, as well as Black Liberation Army terrorist Mutulu Shakur -- hailing these men as "committed freedom fighters." The organization has also lent its support to Palestinian terrorists and to communist revolutionaries in Cuba, Nicaragua, Guyana, and Grenada.
NCPPF sought to repeal large sections of the Patriot Act, specifically those areas that expanded the federal government's mandate to conduct surveillance of terrorist groups. The organization also was a signatory to a March 17, 2003 letter exhorting members of the U.S. Congress "to oppose 'Patriot [Act] II'" on grounds that the new legislation "fail[ed] to respect our time-honored liberties," and "contain[ed] a multitude of new and sweeping law enforcement and intelligence gathering powers ... that would severely dilute, if not undermine, many basic constitutional rights." In addition, NCPPF gave its organizational endorsement to the Community Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties campaign, a project that tried to influence city councils nationwide to pass resolutions creating “Civil Liberties Safe Zones”; i.e., to be non-compliant with the provisions of the Patriot Act.
On November 21, 2006, the NCPPF board of directors voted to disband the coalition.
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