Tarik Shah

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Tarik Ibn Osma Shah
Born Tarik Dowdell
(1963-01-24) January 24, 1963 (age 54)
New York City, New York, USA
Nationality American
Occupation Jazz musician
Known for Pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide aid to al-Qaeda

Tarik Shah (born January 24, 1963) is an American modern jazz bassist and martial arts expert who has been imprisoned since 2005 for conspiring to provide aid to the terrorist organization al-Qaeda.[1]

Life and work[edit]

Shah was born Tarik Dowdell in Harlem, New York City in 1963. Several of his family members were musically gifted. His brother, Antoine Dowdell, worked as a music teacher and jazz pianist. Shah began learning to play double bass at age twelve and went on to study with Slam Stewart.[2] In 1985, Shah toured across Europe with Betty Carter and worked with Ahmad Jamal, Abbey Lincoln, Ron Burton and Art Taylor after his return. Shah later played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra alongside Red Rodney, Roland Hanna, Harold Vick and Dr. Lonnie Smith.[3] He also performed regularly at clubs like St. Nick's Pub in Manhattan and worked with Vanessa Rubin (Pastiche, 1993) and the World Saxophone Quartet (Breath of Life, 1992).

Shah's other passion is martial arts and he attained the level of Master in karate.

Arrest and guilty plea[edit]

In 2005, Shah was arrested by the FBI on the charge of conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism. The Department of Justice alleged that Shah and another man, Dr. Rafiq Abdus Sabir, engaged in multiple recorded conversations with a paid confidential informant and an undercover FBI Agent posing as an al-Qaeda recruiter, during which Shah agreed to provide hand-to-hand combat training and Sabir agreed to provide medical aid to Al-Qaeda members.[4][5]

Shah pleaded guilty to the charge in 2007 and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.[6] Despite his guilty plea, Shah and his supporters continue to claim that he was entrapped and never actually intended to join or support al-Qaeda. In addition, the case raised further controversy regarding federal law enforcement's use of paid informants.[7]

Shah is currently serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, Petersburg Low, a low-security federal prison in Virginia, and is scheduled for release in June 2018.

Sabir pleaded not guilty to the charge, but was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in federal prison in 2007. In a sentencing statement, Sabir maintained his innocence and claimed that Shah had set him up.[8] He is scheduled for release in 2027.

Selected Discography[edit]


  1. ^ Feuer, Alan (May 8, 2007). "Tapes Capture Bold Claims of Bronx Man in Terror Plot". The New York Times Company. The New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Jazz Pianist’s Muse: His Jailed Brother
  3. ^ Groovemaster Tarik Shah
  4. ^ "Two American Citizens Charged with Conspiring to Provide Material Support to al Qaeda". Federal Bureau of Investigation. US Department of Justice. May 29, 2005. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  5. ^ Feuer, Alan (May 8, 2007). "Tapes Capture Bold Claims of Bronx Man in Terror Plot". The New York Times Company. The New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  6. ^ Neumeister, Larry (November 7, 2007). "Bassist Sentenced in Qaeda Case". The New York Sun. TWO SL LLC. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Forde, Kaelyn (April 29, 2015). "Life after the sting: '(T)error' doc explores FBI use of paid informants". Aljazeera America. Al Jazeera America, LLC. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  8. ^ Zambito, Thomas (November 29, 2007). "New York Daily News". NYDailyNews.com. Harlem doctor gets 25 years for offering to serve as Al Qaeda medic. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  9. ^ "Pharoah Sanders – Oh Lord, Let Me Do No Wrong". Discogs. 2015 Discogs. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 

External links[edit]