By now, JazzTimes readers may be familiar with the case of bassist Tarik Shah, who is awaiting trial on charges of conspiring to support al-Qaeda. It is a stretch to include Shah “among the top 1% of jazz bassists on the scene today,” as it says on his support website (tariksfriends.faithweb.com). But Shah, 43, is a mainstay of the Harlem jazz community who has worked with the likes of Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter, Ahmad Jamal and many others. He was initially charged in tandem with Rafiq Sabir, a 51-year-old doctor from Florida. But the current indictment has been expanded to include a total of four defendants.
Shah is formally charged in three of the indictment’s six counts. He is alleged to have “agreed to provide, among other things, martial arts training for jihadists….” He is also alleged to have conspired with Abdulrahman Farhane, 52, a Brooklyn bookseller of Moroccan origin, “to transfer money … to locations overseas to purchase weapons and communications equipment for jihadists in Afghanistan and Chechnya….” In the New York Press, Howard Mandel reported that “Shah’s jazz-world friends are mostly stunned and don’t know what to think, but believe in the premises of U.S. law”-most importantly, the presumption of innocence.