Lynne Stewart’s Just Desserts

American jurisprudence and homeland security aligned yesterday, as a jury of her peers found terrorist lawyer-cum-facilitator Lynne Stewart guilty of aiding international Islamist murderers. After 13 days of deliberation, the federal jury found Stewart and her two co-defendants guilty on all counts, including providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy, and defrauding the government.

The saga began in 1995, when Stewart defended and befriended “the Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In the ensuring years, Stewart – with the aid of co-defendants Ahmed Abdel Sattar and Mohamed Yousry – illegally passed on fatwas from the sheikh to his fanatical footsoldiers in the Islamic Group, an Egyptian-based terror cadre dedicated to replacing the secular government of Hosni Mubarak with an Islamist dicatorship akin to the Taliban.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Dember told the jury in his closing argument that Stewart helped Rahman perpetrate a kind of “jailbreak” by conveying messages to his terrorist followers overseas. In the words of the seven-count indictment issued by John Ashcroft’s Justice Department, Stewart and Yousry “did provide personnel” to international terrorists “by making Abdel Rahman available as a co-conspirator.”

The betrayal of her nation worked like this: Sattar received messages from Islamic Group terrorists and passed them on to Yousry. Lynne Stewart then visited Rahman in his Minnesota prison cell under the pretense of giving legal advice. Yousry, who acted as Lynne Stewart’s interpreter, then passed the messages on to the sheikh and took down his murderous fatwas. While this was going on, Stewart made nonsensical comments to give the appearance that she was carrying on a legal discussion with her client.

Stewart was not always above terror advocacy herself. During a visit on May 19, 2000, Stewart applauded the Filipino terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf, which had perpetrated kidnappings hoping to facilitate Rahman’s release. Stewart then told Rahman he may be released if the Egyptian government were changed. Two months later, she issued a press release saying Rahman no longer approved of Islamic Group’s ceasefire with said government. According to Sattar’s Mideastern sources, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole that followed in October of 2000 was undertaken in support of the Blind Sheikh.

At Rahman’s request, Stewart also refused “to deny that he had issued the fatwah urging the killing of Jews around the world” (although he didn’t), because, in Rahman’s words, “it’s good.”

Her role as go-between for Rahman gave Stewart a chance to practice the violence she had so long advocated, as she stated under cross-examination. Last November, she told the court under oath that America embodied an “entrenched ferocious type of capitalism” that “perpetuates sexism and racism; I don’t think [its destruction] can come non-violently.” “I’m talking about a popular revolution,” she said. “I’m talking about institutions being changed and that will not be changed without violence.”

In addition to the World Trade Center, Rahman planned to demolish the United Nations, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and other New York civilian targets. When asked whom she would target, Stewart – who has said her politics are reflected in her choice of clients – offered, “People will make the right decision about which to attack,” then helpfully added, “The New York City Board of Education could be one to attack.” When pressed, she acknowledged, “You can’t always separate out the combatants from the non-combatants.” After all, occasionally you must break a few eggs… However, the slaughter of innocents was apparently a price she was willing to pay in her pursuit of her socialist dystopia.

So, too, was bearing false witness against the government. According to the indictment, the graying leftist agreed to lie that the federal prison system was denying Rahman insulin to treat his diabetes, although she knew he stopped taking the drug voluntarily. This, she said, was “safe,” because no one on the “outside” would find out. Credulous leftists should remember this before eagerly soaking up tales of American atrocities in Guantanamo Bay, Fallujah, Vietnam, or American Indian land.

Thanks to yesterday’s convictions, the 65-year-old Stewart will likely receive 20 years behind bars. Sattar could get life, Yousry 20 years. Sentencing is tentatively scheduled for July 15.

The instant the foreman read the verdict, Stewart reportedly teared up, then 24 of her followers burst out chanting, “Hands off Lynne Stewart!”

At a post-trial press conference, Stewart was defiant as ever. “I’d like to think I would do it again,” she thundered. “It’s the way a lawyer is supposed to behave.” She added, “I know I committed no crime. I know what I did was right.”

Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which helped represent Stewart, saw darker mechinations behind the verdict. The point of the trial, Ratner claimed, “was to send a message to lawyers who represent alleged terrorists that it’s dangerous to do so.”

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez had a more sane analysis: “The convictions handed down by a federal jury in New York today send a clear, unmistakable message that this department will pursue both those who carry out acts of terrorism and those who assist them with their murderous goals.”

Lest patriotic Americans become unduly enthusiastic at the outcome of yesterday’s trial, they should bear in mind a disturbing reality: It is Ratner’s synopsis rather than Gonzalez’s that will resonate on American campuses across the country.

Before her trial, Lynne Stewart was a frequent campus lecturer and spokesperson at academic socialist events. However, her capital really began to soar in academic circles after she was indicted for providing material support to terrorists. Since her indictment in spring 2002, Stewart been the celebrated guest of numerous prestigious universities and law schools, hauling home a bevy of awards and hefty speaking fees. Although CUNY rescinded its 2003 Public Interest Lawyer of the Year award, its Criminal Law Society honored Stewart in a private ceremony that year. Indeed, Stewart is still available to “speak in your city or town” until she goes to jail. Undoubtedly, some universities will continue to take up her offer. (After all, Mumia Abu-Jamal continues to lecture on the college circuit from prison.)

Stewart was not the only defendant convicted yesterday to have ties to modern academia in general, and CUNY in particular. Mohamed Yousry, the interpreter who acted as Rahman’s amanuensis, served as an adjunct professor of at York College, which is a part of the CUNY system. From 1995-2002, he taught Modern Middle Eastern History (including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). After the Justice Department issued its indictment, CUNY released Yousry, whereupon the AAUP immediately defended the terrorist collaborator, calling his dismissal “inimical to Association-supported principles.” The AAUP’s official report concluded, “Academic freedom cannot be secure under such a regime.”

Yesterday’s trial – which was in many ways a trial of the Left itself – will not still the anti-American fanaticism of Stewart’s and Yousry’s campus cult-worshippers. Their hatred of this country blinds them to its greatness just as it excused their evil deeds – and will probably cause them to overlook the pro-terrorist actions of Stewart’s comrades in the future. What the verdict did guarantee is that those who flout their country’s laws and help terrorists shed innocent blood will not escape serious consequences, anymore than their terrorist heroes have. Ironically, the blog Stewart set up during the trial is entitled “Justice for Lynne Stewart.” That is exactly what the federal jury delivered yesterday. This is another example of the truism: There are none so miserable as those who get what they deserve. Unfortunately, too many college professors and administrators mourn with her.

This article originally appeared on Friday, February 11, 2005, on FrontPage Magazine.