Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Diana Gordon

Subject Categories

Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Law | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures


Interpreter, Islamophobia, Juries, Moral Panic, Terrorism trials, Translator


Historically, the role of translators and interpreters has suffered from multiple misconceptions. In theaters of war, these linguists are often viewed as traitors and kidnapped, tortured, or killed; if they work in the terrorism arena, they may be prosecuted and convicted as terrorist agents. In United States v. Ahmed Abdel Sattar, a/k/a "Abu Omar," a/k/a "Dr. Ahmed," Lynne Stewart, and Mohammed [sic] Yousry, 02 Cr. 395 (JGK) (S.D.N.Y. 2003), Yousry, an Arabic linguist and scholar of Middle Eastern history, was labeled such an agent, his work as translator/interpreter construed as material support to terrorism, and his expertise recast as dangerous knowledge. Drawing on moral panic theory and applying ethnographic content analysis in combination with the extended case method, this critical ethnography of a terrorism trial (a) analyzes trial records and courtroom observations; (b) relates the findings to secondary data, such as Islamophobia polls and translator-traitor incidents and litigation; and (c) locates the synthesized product within an extralegal and historical context. The verdict's effects on the translation and interpreting community, academia, the terrorism knowledge base, and, by extension, national security are discussed and policy solutions offered.