Woodbury's Shezanne Cassim Says His Life Is Ruined Over a Parody Video

Categories: International

The Raben Group
Shezanne Cassim

Shezanne Cassim was born in Sri Lanka but grew up in the United Arab Emirates. When he was 16, his family moved to Woodbury, where he attended high school and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2006. Afterward, Cassim decided to return to Dubai, which he'd always considered home. He found a passion job as an airlines consultant, helping grow the UAE's aviation industry.

In 2013, Cassim got together with a bunch of friends and filmed a YouTube video parodying Dubaian youth culture. The video was called "Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs," and featured the martial art of throwing shoes at stationary targets and using cell phones to call for help when all else fails. Comments online were full of lols, but the UAE government couldn't take a joke.

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Douglas McCain, former Minnesotan, killed while fighting for terrorist group in Syria

Douglas McCain via Facebook
NBC News broke the news yesterday of a 33-year-old American who grew up in Minnesota and died over the weekend fighting with ISIS in Syria. Citing White House officials and the Free Syrian Army, journalists identified the man as Douglas McAuthur McCain -- one of only a "small handful" of "foreign jihadis" believed to have joined the al-Qaeda spinoff.

Before moving to San Diego, McCain attended two schools, one in New Hope and one in Plymouth, between 1997 and 1999, according to Robbinsdale Area Schools. His classmates described him as a "goofball" who loved to play basketball. According to his Twitter account, he "reverted" to Islam around 2004. Public court records -- which document a couple of run-ins with police -- suggest he stuck around the Twin Cities until at least 2006.

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Alleged juggalo terrorist longed for "cowboy days" when "everyone carried a gun"

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Here's the video that landed a Minnesotan in prison for nine months

YouTube screen grab of a parody that landed one Minnesotan in jail. He's pictured here in the back passenger seat.
The writer Martin Amis once referred to a critic as "humorless," by which he meant to impugn on the man's seriousness.

The censors employed by the United Arab Emirates government may not be serious people, but they have serious means of punishment at their disposal. Looking into the case of Shezanne "Shez" Cassim, one is compelled to ask: Who are they kidding?

Cassim, a 29-year-old U of M grad working in UAE, has spent the last nine months in prison for participating in a 19-minute parody about Dubai youth culture.

The mockumentary is entitled "Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs." It depicts an ancient martial art as little more than men throwing shoes through newspapers. A cell phone is a weapon that lets you call friends to come help you fight.

SEE ALSO: HealthPartners pulls KDWB advertising after Hmong parody

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Activitists petition NPR over Radiolab's "complete lack of racial sensitivity"

cover illustration by Brian Stauffer
This week's cover story, "The Yellow Rain Makers," opens with the backlash against the popular show Radiolab, following an episode that, as locally-based author Kao Kalia Yang describes it, "dismissed the Hmong experience" and discounted contrasting accounts.

The episode immediately sparked an outpouring of debate on Radiolab's website. Now, the Asian American activism group 18 Million Rising is trying to channel some of that conversation to spark change.

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FBI wants DNA proof of third Minnesota Somali suicide bomber

Categories: International
This is the first message which has encouraged Somali-Americans to declare war at home.
Abdisalan Ali is thought to be the young man from Minneapolis who killed himself and at least 10 others in a Mogadishu suicide attack. But some who've listened to the recording which is supposedly Ali's last violent message to Muslims claim it's not him.

To clear up the confusion, the FBI is hoping to use DNA evidence to identify Ali as the bomber. If his identity is confirmed, Ali would become the third definite case of a Minnesota-grown Somali fleeing this country to kill himself and others on behalf of al-Shabaab, the Somali terrorist group ravaging that country.

While some close to Ali claim he isn't the man encouraging violent jihad in the online video, Abdirizak Bihi, a Minneapolis resident whose nephew has also left  town to join al-Shabaab, told the Star Tribune that Ali's message of jihad in America is a new one for al-Shabaab.

"Asking [Muslim youth] to act where they are is a new thing," he said.

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Amina Ali, accused supporter of Somali terrorists, complains of bad treatment in jail

Categories: International
amina ali.jpg
Amina Ali says jail guards are mistreating her.
Amina Ali knew she was supporting al-Shabaab; that much is certain. What her trial will determine is what she knew about al-Shabaab.

These revelations came during yesterday's opening statements in the case of Ali and Hawo Hassan, two Rochester women on trial in U.S. District Court in St. Paul for giving material support to terrorism.

Ali's behavior, and her treatment by authorities, has become an interesting sidetrack to the trial -- as if it needed any added drama. On Monday, at the start of jury selection, Ali refused to stand for the judge as he entered the courtroom.

Now, thrown in jail for contempt of court, Ali says she was forcibly stripped of her clothing, including her hijab, and that jail guards have treated her roughly. Since being thrown in jail, Ali has been skipping meals, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

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Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, freed from Iran, call for release of all political prisoners

Categories: International
bauer fattal new york.jpg
Shane Bauer, left, Josh Fattal: Back home, and speaking out.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have returned to the United States, and begun describing their two-plus-year ordeal in Iran as accused, convicted, and imprisoned "spies."

The two Americans had to go on hunger strikes just to receive letters from family, and heard the echoing screams in Evin Prison as other political prisoners were beaten. Bauer and Fattal spent time in solitary confinement, and were told by prison guards that their families had given up on them.

Those details emerged during a press conference yesterday in New York City, during which Bauer, a native of Onamia and a freelance journalist, and Fattal first officially addressed the media about their imprisonment.

Bauer has also been reunited with his fiancee, Sarah Shourd, whom Iranians released on $500,000 bail last year. Bauer had proposed to Shourd while the two were held in prison.

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Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal freed by Iran

Categories: International
iran hikers grab.jpg
Shane Bauer, left, and Josh Fattal are finally free.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal are coming home, and not a moment too soon.

Two years after they were first detained in Iran on fraudulent spying charges, and two months into an eight-year prison sentence, Bauer, a Minnesota native and international journalist and photographer, and Fattal are free, as confirmed by multiple news sources and U.S. State Department officials.

Bauer and Fattal's case has gone through a series of twists and turns, including the most recent episode in which Iran's reigning megalomaniac, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said last week that the Americans would be let out within "a couple of days." Then, this week, the liberation was again delayed thanks to an absentee judge's "vacation."

You know who could use a vacation right about now? Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.

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Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal's release delayed for Iranian judge's vacation

Categories: International
shane bauer.jpg
Shane Bauer would be a free man, but someone has to finish his vacation first.
The plight of Shane Bauer, a Minnesota native and freelance foreign correspondent, and his friend Josh Fattal, has captivated and outraged Americans. Apparently, the Iranian authorities responsible for jailing, and perhaps soon freeing the two Americans, are slightly less interested.

Bauer and Fattal were thought to be on their way out of Ervin, the Iranian prison where they'd been sentenced to eight years for "spying," or as we refer to it in America, "hiking." In order to be freed, the two 29-year-old college buddies would need the signature of two Iranian judges.

Now, their lawyer is saying that Bauer and Fattal will need to wait until one of those two judges comes back from vacation. This creates a sticky situation for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadeinejad, who promised the Americans' release, and is flying into New York today for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, the Washington Post reports.

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he'll release Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal

Categories: International
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, magnanimous bastard, says he'll release the two Americans.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the slithering president of Iran, has made a promise to America -- and one of its most devoted mothers.

Ahmaedinejad told the Washington Post he'll release Minnesota native Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two 29-year-olds who were sentenced last month to eight years in an Iranian prison for "spying."

According to their versions, Bauer, a freelance journalist and photographer, was just trying to get to Iraqi Kurdistan, and Fattal was just along for the ride. The always-paranoid Iranian authorities detained, prosecuted, and convicted the two men, along the way charging Bauer's girlfriend, Sara Shourd, in absentia, also for "spying."

In an exclusive interview with the Washington Post, Ahmadinejad wouldn't give up the farcical "spying" allegations, but did say he'd be sending Bauer and Fattal home as a "unilateral humanitarian gesture."

Hey, whatever you've gotta say, man. Just send those guys home.

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