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photo of arabic hotmail and fbi agentsjoin the discussion: How do you assess the way the government handled the 'Lackawanna Six' case?  Based on Sahim Alwan's interview and other information in this report, how great a threat do you think this group was?

Dear FRONTLINE,

i watched your program on sleeper cells and was astounded by the image it provokes of the paranoid american demeaner that has become apart of your once proud nation. as a canadian citizen it worries me personaly to be witnessing such a fine people spooked by the shadows of some of your own citizens who as it was stated, went to the wrong summer camp. it is shameful to see your government peg others as terrorist while you have been strong arming other countries for decades. you reap what you sow.

steven saar
olds, alberta

Dear FRONTLINE,

As an American, I am sick that some of the 'Lackawanna Six' have been persecuted instead of honored for their loyalty, integrity, honor, and principles. This isn't justice - and we aren't safer by imprisoning innocent victims. This is just more stupidity, paranoia, and headline-grabbing sensationalism of pure fiction. I hope the poor guy gets released - Alwa certainly doesn't appear to belong in prison - to me, he's proven his innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. The FBI and government agents that defend the Patriot Act and questionable actions were shifty - and obviously lying. We don't need people like that 'protecting' us - they're more dangerous to the average citizen than any 'terrorist'.

Menomonie, Wi

Dear FRONTLINE,

If there is a "Clear and Present Danger" to the US it is the use of lies, half-baked intelligence and the pervasive distortion of good intelligence on the part of this Administration.

Whether these kids are a threat to this country is a question that is still unanswered. As Frontline has so skillfully demonstrated in the past weeks, there is a threat to our freedom in the US and it is us. Your sound bites of the President and Secretary Ashcroft are much more frightening and threatening, in my opinion. You folks scare the shit out of me.

t, tx

Dear FRONTLINE,

It is very obvious to me -- a critical thinker -- that this program is in the business of distorting the work of good men and women in the FBI and CIA.

If you are looking for a conspiracy in our country I suggest you look into something worthy. That is, in case you haven't noticed, our government is OUR's. It's not up for grabs by those who MAY be plotters -- yeah. Better to be safe than sorry.

I mean ok, we are a guilt-ridden society now. We plundered the American Indians; we put Japanese-Americans in camps; and we had slaves. Does this mean it is now time to stop taking a stand and just lie down? 'Cause this is how I see this kind of probing into the works of our government.

Now, drink your warm milk and get some rest.

And being a Capitalist country, that young fellow in prison who was interviewed, he'll write a book and a made-for-TV movie will put his kids through school.

D O
San Francisco, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

The only crime that was established here was the Lakawana Group's religious fundamentalism. The claim of a 'terrorist cell' existing was never sufficiently substantiated.

So, if they were incarcerated 'preemptively', on the basis of their attachments to religious fanaticism, then should we need to be terrified also, or see terrorism in the acts of even those religious fundamentalists supporting or enforcing the Patriot Act? Who next?

Beryl John-Knudson
Duluth, MN.

Dear FRONTLINE,

The presumption of innocence is among the values and freedoms that until recently have made America a spiritual beacon to the world. Lying to the FBI and obstructing an investigation into criminal attacks on American assets may well be a chargeable criminal act, and should be if it isn't. However, the unhappy campers ignored the remedy of the Fifth Amendment, perhaps from ignorance, or perhaps for fear of the very outcome that resulted. Others can clarify the legal issues. These young religious pilgrims were not charged with lying or compromising an investigation, or indeed, any real crime. In being locked up for what they might do, they became fodder for the self-promoting mongers of bigotry and fear.

It is always sad day when the best American values are subordinated to that old evil, the witch hunt. A remedy could be to charge the men with their actual crimes, credit them for time served on the bogus ones, and encourage their rehabilitation. No persons life or dreams should be trampled on in the name of pseudo patriotism. We should all be a little sadder and a little wiser, and if we fix this, a little prouder.

Tobey Llop
E. Amherst, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

After studying the history of the people involved, one simple question seems to solve the puzzle for me: who is supplying the money for their travels and 6-week vacations?

Bob Green
Rochester, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

Your program was disturbing. Since the definition of a "terrorist" is in the eyes of the beholder(some strap bombs onto themselves while others drop bombs from F-16), the war on terrorism will never end. Thus, we will live with our freedoms suspended as they are now... forever. Anyone here remember when America was the land of the free?

Ray Barrier
Rileyville, VA

Dear FRONTLINE,

It's probably a good thing that after viewing this I have more questions than answers. Simple explanations for complex human experiences are usual wrong or at the least, unsatisfactory, and when dealing with life and death issues, morality, ethics, and the vision of democracy, it's impossible to research too much, to know too much. That is why it is so disturbing that the majority of this country has accepted without question the attack on the Afghani people, the dismantling of the Bill of Rights and the invasion and occupation of the sovereign (albeit, enemy) nation of Iraq.

How do we begin to hold useful dialogue with fellow Americans when we cannot even display a peace symbol without provoking glances of distrust, holy righteousness, indignation, and outright, aggressive hostility? The only way we can survive the horror of 9/11, the downward spiral of our economic, social and moral framework is through dialogue. Like a dysfunctional family, the problem isn't going away with retreats behind slammed doors. We are truly in this together, and we must find a way out, together. That means compromises must be made, and that's the sticky part.

NYC, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

The Buffalo Cell may not have been an immediate threat. But Once trained, by Al Qaeda and bin Laden, their potential for committing terrorist acts would just be a matter of a phone call from a former contact.

Do you really think that bin Laden would not evenually use such a stratigically positioned group?

We were fooled once because we were lax. If we don't learn from "911" we should be ashamed.

John Walker
Plattsburgh, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

from the program it is not clear if the individuals constituted

a terrorist cell--was there information that they were working together as a potential terrorist cell? It is also not completely clear why they went to Afganistan?

No information, especially about the relationships between the individuals, was presented to draw any intellegent conclusions.

morganville, nj

Dear FRONTLINE,

A religious quest, or pilgrimage?

An Al Queda training camp in Afghanistan is NOT MECCA, or the DOME OF THE ROCK.

David Thomas
Rochester, MN

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posted october 16, 2003

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