Joint Terrorism Task Force

When The Joint Terrorism Task Force and Department of Homeland Security Came Calling

This is the second post in this 6 part series, telling the story of my Victimless Indictment… When JTTS and DHS Showed up at Micfo’s offices in 2017

On December 4, 2017, task force officers (TFOs) Dante Garrido and Williams White showed up at Micfo’s offices. Their stated intent was to serve a grand jury subpoena to Micfo and Contina, for one of our customers’ records.

[Related Post]: Why Cloud and Internet Service Providers (ISP) Get Subpoenaed By State and Federal Governments

Normally, when Micfo was served subpoenas asking for subscriber information, the agents would simply serve and leave. This time however, they stayed.

The interview was extensive, and included questions that had nothing to do with their stated intent. You can read the whole interview report here), but the big picture is:

I completely cooperated, of course:

  1. I personally gave them a tour of Micfo’s operation. This included overall information about company activities, target audience, technology, infrastructure, datacenter operations and the number of IP addresses under our management.
  2. I volunteered that “Jonathan Liberman” is an alias for me and that I own Contina Communications.
  3. I told TFO’s Garrido and White that the phone numbers appearing on Contina’s website were routed to Ruby Receptionists, who would then screen and forward calls to us.
  4. I told them that Regus handled Micfo’s mail forwarding services.
  5. I explained Micfo’s business rationale for setting up alias companies like Contina Communications.
  6. I assigned one of Micfo’s account managers as their point of contact for future subpoenas, so they don’t have to take time out of their day and advised them they can simply email it to, Morgan Garrison, and she will assist. You can review Morgan’s actual email here in case you’re curious.

They answered my cooperation with what could seem suspiciously like racially motivated harassment.

They asked about every single member of my family. They questioned me about my religion, my faith, and my “brothers”.

Among other questions, they asked:

  • Which mosque do you go to?
  • Why did you start going there?
  • Why did you stop going there?
  • Who are you friends?

Only the word they used was ‘brothers’ as in, “Do you socialize with any of your brothers” (i.e. other Muslims)?

The questions became more intense

Had I heard anything concerning? Could I give them any information about the“bad guys who want to cause harm to Americans and the United States?” They asked me to “keep your eyes and ears open when you travel abroad.” If I were to come across any of “my brothers” I should report on what they said.

What amazes me about this is their blatant assumption that the second largest religion in the world is full of “brothers” up to no good.

Prisons are loaded with people from all kinds of backgrounds and spiritual traditions. It’s a character thing; not a religious thing, as far as I’m concerned. I was shocked that my character was coming into question for no other reason than the color of my skin, my country of birth, and peaceful practice of my religion and daily rituals. It had nothing to do with my actions at all.

Could this be a case of racial and religious bias? I don’t know for sure, but it certainly looks that way to me.

My response?

I told them I knew where they were going with the conversation and that there wasn’t anything I could help them with.

I told the truth: I denounce any kind of violence. I had no time to socialize. My life was full with work and family.

When I travel abroad it’s with my family, for leisure. I stopped going to the mosque because I didn’t click with the Imam—as it explained in the government’s official statement (scroll down to page 4 here.)

Finally, I said what I believe to be true, that ISIS “doesn’t have an ounce of Muslim in them and they don’t represent the Muslim world”. Why? Because just like any other religion, there are a minor faction of extremists who are condemned by most members of their faith.

How did serving a subpoena turned into a full-blown national security and immigration interview? 

They were asking for information about things they already knew. What relevance was my faith or place of worship? Do Christian business owners have to describe which church they attend and why? Do Jewish business owners get interrogated about which synagogues they go to and why? Is any other person of religious faith asked about their ‘brothers’? 

How did it end after all?

Several weeks later Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) closed their case, and thanked me for my cooperation.

Does any of this look racially motivated?

It’s not like I had just walked into the embassy. It’s not even like I came to the US a few months before this interview. I had been living in the US for seven (7) years. I was married to a US Citizen with whom I had two children. I was a successful businessman, living the American Dream.

I have to wonder:

How did they pick me? Did they start with (tick the boxes) Brown, Iranian, Muslim, Young? Did they think: Successful? There must be something! What about the 14th Amendment and the equal protection of the laws? What about “innocent till proven guilty”?

What about you?

Please scroll down to the comments below and share your point of view on this confusing situation. And again, thanks so much for your enthusiastic support! I don’t know how I could have made through all this without the love and support of my family and friends. This is the first step in our creating community around Helping Every Loving Parent (HELP) to spend time with their children. Every story is important.

[Next in this Series]: Tardy Patriotism or Extortion? You Decide.

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Written by Amir Golestan

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