Ithaca, NY - Judge Ra'id Juhi Hamadi Al-Saiedi should be arriving in Ithaca either today or sometime tomorrow. Ithaca, the home of Cornell University, has been hesitant about bringing him here until some issues involving that of his safety, that of his family's safety, as well as the safety of the community itself have been evaluated.
“Cornell won't be bringing Mr. Al-Saiedi to Ithaca until our due diligence is complete and we all are satisfied that he can be welcomed here in the manner that this community is known for,” said Simeon Moss, a Cornell spokesman.
The concern comes from the fact that the Judge has been a target for assassination attempts in the past. During Saddam Hussein's trial, eight Sunni Arabs were arrested for allegedly plotting to kill Juhi. As we know, two of Saddam's lawyers were killed and another wounded during his trial.
As it stands, the Mayor Carolyn Peterson, the Town supervisor Cathy Valentino, and the Ithaca Police Chief Lauren Signer, are asking for a written assessment as to the risks involved having Judge Ra'id Juhi Hamadi Al-Saiedi there. Many agencies are working together, The FBI, the Secret Service as well as local agencies, to come up with a plan should anything happen during the Judge's three year stay here.
“If any threats do evolve, we will work with state and local authorities to vet the threats,” said Paul Holstein, media coordinator and chief division counsel for the Albany division of the FBI. “The FBI is vigilant in analyzing any information to indicate possible threats to this country. In this case we're not aware of any credible threats to this individual or to members of the public due to his arrival or stay.”
Police chief Signer stated her concerns,
“How can I protect him if I don't know who his enemies are?” she said. “If he is a high-value target for the Iraqi insurgents over there, what might be the dangers here? Their initial assessment caused us to ask ourselves questions about how we would be involved in the security of the judge,” she said.
Her Internet research, Signer said, revealed one verified, significant attempt on Juhi's life. However, her research did not clear up who Juhi's enemies are, she added.
In January, the law school invited Juhi to Cornell because of his expertise on the Middle East's legal issues, and to enhance the educational opportunities at the school. As it stands now, the school has a very diverse population.
"Within Cornell's Ithaca population, about 16 percent of students are foreign nationals, about 5 percent of staff are foreign nationals, and about 6 percent of faculty are foreign nationals"
Adding Juhi to the staff will certainly bring in more students who want to learn more about the laws in the Middle East.
While Juhi is here, he will be working on a book about Iraqi High Tribunal.
My hope is that his stay here will bring nothing more than a better understanding of the Middle East's laws and practises.
The Ithaca Journal
News Channel 36 WENY