Two years ago today, on 16 July 2014, was the greatest day of my life. On that day I entered the federal court house in New Haven, Connecticut, to hear Judge Janet Hall, the chief federal judge of Connecticut and one of the most senior judges in America, rule that I was not a terrorist.
“This judge is going to decide my fate!? Yeah right,” were the words I said to my American lawyers Terence Ward and Kelly Barrett soon after I was extradited to the United States in 2012.
“The United States has murdered, tortured, raped and pillaged Muslims all over the world. And here I am, a Muslim accused of terrorism sitting in front of an American judge two hours drive from Ground Zero, where 3000 Americans were killed on 9/11,” I continued.
“Why should I think that she, a judge employed by the US Government, is going to be just to me?” I asked them.
This woman was supposed to judge me. But I judged her first.
With good reason, some might say. By the time I stood before her I had heard several British judges, basically grumpy old English men, rule against me at every stage of my extradition proceedings in the UK for eight years.
But I was wrong about Judge Hall. I describe the day in detail in the book I am writing about my experience but here is what she ruled about me after seeing thousands of pages of evidence against me, including classified material. Taken from the official court transcript of the day, she said:
“There was never any aid given by these defendants to effectuate a plot. By plot, I mean a terrorist plot … Neither of these two defendants were interested in what is commonly known as terrorism …”
She ruled that I “never supported or believed in or associated with Al-Qaida or Osama bin Laden.”
She described me by saying, “It appears to me that he [Babar] is a generous, thoughtful person who is funny and honest. He is well liked and humane and empathetic…”
And she ended her judgement with the words, “This is a good person who does not and will not act in the future to harm other people.”
As a result of her ruling I returned home to my family in London one year ago, all praise be to Allah. (And during that time I have neither blown anyone up nor beheaded anyone nor driven a lorry over anyone.”
Judging by some of the events in the world this week, the media might lead us to believe that there is no more good left in the world.
My experience with this woman is one of the reasons why I still believe, despite what I have gone through, that there are more good people in the world than bad people.
In other words, not all Britons are Theresa May and not all Americans are Donald Trump.
You can read my full story in the recent interview I gave to The Guardian newspaper at tinyurl.com/babarspeaks and you can follow my blog about my prison experiences at babarahmad.com.
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