"I don't write to them. I don't want my finger prints or handwriting on anything that goes into the jail," said Clementine Young of Southeast Washington. "Those boys are the reason I just came out of the hospital getting treatment for my high blood. I worry about them all the time, but there's nothing I can do."
Mrs. Young is the mother of three of the 12 Hanafi Muslims sentenced to long prison terms after they held scores of persons hostage in three Washington buildings a year ago.
Her sons received prison sentences of from 24 to 84 years each for their role in the takeover of the Islamic Center at 2551 Massachusetts Ave. NW last March 9. The three men - armed with rifles, a pistol and long knives - held 10 hostages for nearly two days.
In the year since Mrs. Young and her husband, Clyde, 68, first received the shocking news that their sons were among the Hanafi gunmen, she said resulting stress and frustrations have contributed to her poor health.
At the same time, her husband said, the incident may have helped to strengthen family relations. "We talk with our boys on the phone quite often," said Young, a cab driver who said he rarely had contact with his sons in the months before the takeover. "They want to know how we're doing. We try to keep up with how they're being treated in jail.
"We try to let them know that we still love them - that they're still our sons," said Young, the father of nine. "Our last telephone bill was $66, mostly collect phone calls from them. But I don't mind. I tell my boys they can cll as often as they'd like."
The Young brothers are scattered in federal prisons in Terre Haute, Ind., McNeil Island, Washington and Ashland, Ky.
The highly secretive Hanafi Muslim community here, which was never described publicly in detail during the said resulting stress and frustrations have contributed to her poor health, height of publicity surrounding the Hanafi seige, has remained a closed society.
Efforts by The Washington Post to telephone Khadyja Khaalis, wife of Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, who led the seige, and his son-in-law, Abdul Aziz, at the Hanafi headquarters at 7700 16th St. NW were answered by a female voice that said only, "No comment."
Harry T. lexander, who was the defense attorney for Khaalis and Aziz are currently on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Mecca.
Aziz, who operates a Georgetown gift shop, was seen recently conducting business in the store, which sells jewelry, paintings and other gift items imported from around the world.
Alexander, said last week that he has had "one visit and many consultations" with khaalis, who is serving a sentence of 41 to 123 years at the Federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.
"The Hanifi Muslims at this time are distraught over the convictions." Alexander said, "They feel they are the victims of reprisals, harassment and lack of due process."
Mrs. Young said that her son's wives, who live in the Washington area (the Youngs say they don't know exactly where), also call periodically to ask how she and her husband are getting along and to tell them about the grandchildren.
"I was in the hospital recently," she said. "My room was filled with friends and relatives and in walked my sons' three wives. I was surprised, but glad to see them."
D.C. Superior Court Judge Nicholas S. Nunzio said at the time of their sentencing that the Young brothers were given the most lenient jail terms of the Hanafi defendents because they had created "psychological" terror at the Islamic Center, where no hostages were injured, rather than the "physical" terror suffered by hostages at the B'nai B'rith international headquarters and the District who were seriously injured, one fatally.
"I still can't figure out why my sons did it," Mrs. Young said. "We tried to bring them up in a good Christian home. With our nine children, we decided to make sacrifices for the kids so they could have it better in life.
"We made sure the kids had whatever they needed to go to school. We took the little money we had and sent two of them to college. And then they turn around and disgrace the family.
"If we had known it would turn out this way we could have been so much further ahead. We could have bought a nice house in the suburbs and not stayed here in a shack, sacrificing for the kids.
"I feel that it's really my fault. I persuaded my husband to stay in this house and spend what we had to help the boys. Now people pass by and see us here, growing old in a shack. They think we are crazy."
Shortly after her sons went to prison, Mrs. Young said she and her husband visited her sons' wives at their split-level home in Wheaton. Three weeks later, she said the families had moved. And they have since moved another time. Mrs. Young said she has been trying to locate her daughters-in-law.
"The last time I talked with my sons, I asked them how to contact their wives. They said they didn't know, she said. "I asked them what happens if they die? Who would identify them or claim their bodies? They said, "You mama. We trust your judgment."