Free Ali Al-Timimi

September 7, 2008

The Mafia Retcon

Filed under: Con and Retcon — sandboxarea @ 4:16 am

The Mafia Retcon


When all else fails, blame the mob. Didn’t they whack Kennedy? Or in Ali’s case, hint to everyone that he’s the Don of a Muslim mob family. And since most people only know about the mob from TV shows like HBO’s Sopranos, this con just might work. Or if you’re old school, that would be Brando in The Godfather.


It seems that the government pulled out the Mob Don alternative history for Ali twice. The first time was at the end of the trial when the government made its final statement to the jury:

The snippet is taken from Tim Davis’ analysis of Ali’s conviction. Tim then goes on to state:

“…but the mere mention of mobster dons is prejudicial when a key component of the government’s case alleges that al-Timimi was the ringleader of the “Virginia jihad network.” In fact, there is no evidence that al-Timimi was the “Virginia jihad network” ringleader…”

Tim was in law school during Ali’s trial and studied the case. His thesis was entitled: “The Suffocation of Free Speech under the Gravity of Danger of Terrorism” and it’s an important step in understanding the many aspects of Ali’s case.


The second reference to the mob was in an FBI press release right after Ali’s sentencing. In that press release, the FBI tries to drum up support for one of its legally questionable domestic monitoring programs called Link Analysis. After referencing Sadam Hussein, the DC snipers who terrorized millions in the DC area, and the Paintballers– the government tosses the mob at the reader. Here’s the quote:


In addition to the retcon, I also want you to notice the use of the word “we’ve” in the press release. For those of you who have never issued a press release, the purpose of a press release is to call attention to something which the issuing organization wants the reader to know about. Specifically something that the organization is doing– like Link Analysis– or something that the organization thinks is important to the reader– perhaps global warming for example. In the case of FBI press releases, the target audience is not the ordinary citizen. It’s people of influence: the press, members of Congress, government employees, local officials, and the such.

Switching the style of the address from “us the FBI” to “we the world” is a linguistic technique used to create an emotional bond between the writer and reader. In the case of this press release, it’s about getting the reader to subconsciously agree with the new and alien concept of Link Analysis by referencing the old and familiar concepts of mobs and low level mobsters ratting-out their bosses. 

To learn more about emotive speech techniques, you can read about the “Friends, Romans, Countrymen… lend me your ears” speech by Mark Antony. And though I’m not “hassling the Hoff”, you should be able to find an analysis of Baywatch’s I’m Always Here lyrics… interesting stuff.


The first post in the category retroactive continuity provides a basic introduction on the technique of rewriting history in works of fiction and how the government applies those techniques to Ali’s history. It also cites an example of prejudicing the Supreme Court against Ali.


1 Comment »

  1. […] “The Mafia Retcon“, we’ll look at how the government does another rewrite of Ali’s history as a […]

    Pingback by Link Analysis at the FBI: Part 1 « Free Ali Al-Timimi — September 8, 2008 @ 8:19 am | Reply

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