Two mysterious deaths of political
activists occurred inside U.S. prisons this month. One of the deceased was
Nazih Abdul-Hamed Nabih al-Ruqaiíi, popularly known as Abu Anas al-Libi, a
Libyan who fought with al Qaeda in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union in
the 1980s. He later joined an Islamic fighting group seeking to depose
Qaddafi, but he never took up arms against America. He and his family lived
in England without event for many years before returning to Libya in 2011
because of a general amnesty offer by Qaddafiís son.
Al-Libi was kidnapped on October 5,
2013 in front of his home in Tripoli by a team of US military, CIA and FBI
agents, who then rendered him to a Navy ship for torture. Intelligence
officials interrogated him for a week aboard the USS San Antonio, all the
while floating in the Mediterranean to avoid having to follow U.S. laws. Al-Libi
was then officially indicted for involvement in the 1998 U.S. embassy
bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and transferred to a prison in New York City.
He pled not guilty to these charges on
October 15, 2014. He was supposed to go to court on January 12, 2015 to
defend himself against the governmentís accusations. Instead, he died in
prison on January 2, 2015. He was buried January 10 in Libya at a
well-attended funeral. What was that all about?
The other prisoner who 'suddenly diedí
was Phil Africa, imprisoned for life as a member of the American Black
revolutionary group, MOVE, which had connections to the Black Panther Party
and the Black Liberation Army of the 70ís and 80ís. On August 8, 1978,
Philadelphia police brutally raided their communal home and arrested nine
people including Phil Africa. The MOVE house was later aerial bombed in
Philadelphia by the U.S. government on May 13, 1985. Two of his children died
in the fire.
On Sunday, January 4th, 2015, Phil
Africa was secretly transported from his Dallas, Pennsylvania prison to
Wilkes Barre General Hospital at the same time as MOVE members were
attempting to visit him. At the hospital, he was held in isolation for five
days and not even allowed to call his wife of 44 years, Janine Africa.
The hospital and prison received
hundreds of phone calls in support of Phil, and on January 8, he was finally
allowed to call his wife. She reported on the website of the MOVE
organization, that he was heavily drugged, incoherent and couldnít even hold
the phone to talk to her.
On January 9, Phil was sent back to the
prison infirmary. The next day, Ramona and Carlos Africa were granted
permission to visit Phil in the prison infirmary. When they reached him, he
was incoherent and couldnít talk or move his head to look at them. An hour
after they left, they got a call that Phil passed away.
''Inmates in the infirmary and others
in the prison were shocked when they heard the news. They had witnessed his
vigorous health for decades in the prisons, had just seen him stretching and
doing jumping jacks six days earlier,'' wrote Ramona Africa.
''The fact that Phil was isolated for
the six days before he passed, that the prison even refused to acknowledge
that he was in the hospital is beyond suspicious.''
''When Merle Africa died in prison on
March 13th, 1998 the conditions were very similar. She had been one way in
the prison, but within hours of being forced to go to an outside hospital she
was dead,'' Ramona Africa further stated.
What these terrible cases have in
common is that both al-Libi and Africa, whose adopted names demonstrate
idealistic dedication to their land of origin, were members of now-defunct
revolutionary groups. Al-Libiís wife, Umm Abdul Rahman told the Daily Beast,
''My husband was affiliated with al-Qaeda a long time ago. But he was never a
senior leader in al-Qaeda.''
Al-Qaeda at the height of its glory had
not more than a few hundred soldiers, while the same is true of the Black
Panther Party. These relatively obscure revolutionaries are now old men. They
are considered social justice activists by those who support them, and
retired terrorists by those who donít. The U.S. governmentís policy to
emotionally destroy political prisoners by deliberately separating them from
their loved ones at the time of death seems vindictive.
''Itís this systemís intention for MOVE
people to die in prison,'' stated Ramona Africa.
''The MOVE 9 never should have been
imprisoned at all, and according to their sentence they should have been
paroled over six years ago,'' she insisted. ''The death of Merle and Phil
Africa rests directly at the feet of this government!''
Likewise, al-Libiís son Ahmed Nazeeh al
Ruqaiíi railed against the U.S. government.
''We will not forget. Neither will we
get over what happened at the hands of the Americans, who prevented us from
visiting our father and deprived us from seeing him'' he said in a statement.
A quiet death in prison, reported to be
of natural causes, means that the only people who understand what happened
are the personís closest supporters Ė not the general public.
These deaths clearly demonstrate that
torture rendition against Muslims and against African American civil rights
activists is alive and well under the Obama administration.