A jazz bass player from the Bronx pleaded guilty this week to having the inclination to teach hand-to-hand combat skills to Islamic extremists. Tarik Shah, whose childhood influence was Cannonball Adderly, will be going to prison for 15 years for disclosing his secret desire to help terrorists to an FBI undercover agent after being set up by a prison stool pigeon. [NYT, April 5] Mr. Shah did not actually teach any martial arts skills to any jihadists, nor did he provide any material support for their cause, although he claims to have tried to attend a training camp in Afghanistan. He is simply a jazz musician with an attitude who got caught up in a witch hunt. Since when does anyone listen to what musicians have to say anyway? Is Tarik Shah going into the slammer to keep some US soldier from a potential karate chop or just because, failing to crack the real al-Qaida network, the US Government needs to find someone to investigate and imprison?
Carl Hultberg for the RagMag e-list