Thursday, August 17, 2006

No Sense of Relief Here

The other day, two alleged junior jihadis were released from police custody. According to this article in the Detroit Free Press
"They could have been any one of our brothers, our husbands, our fathers," said Delia Hadhad, 23, of Dearborn and a friend of the Houssaiky family. "I understand the American people are scared, but at the same time, you can't terrorize people inside your own country. We're citizens, too ... we have a right to run businesses, to live our lives."

Abulhassan and Houssaiky said they were trying to do just that.

"There was never any question that we were innocent -- we knew all our friends and family knew we were innocent," Abulhassan said.

Last week, in the early morning hours of Aug. 8, the two American-born friends left Dearborn for a summer road trip to buy hundreds of cell phones that they planned to resell for a profit. It's a common practice among Arab-American businessmen to load up on particular products and resell them to distributors, gas stations, and stores.

"We were definitely very surprised," Abulhassan said Tuesday of the arrest. "They told us it was just a misdemeanor and that we'd be out in the morning."

But two days later, they were charged with two counts of terrorism under Ohio laws that had just gone into effect months earlier.

Police were suspicious, said Washington County Prosecutor James Schneider, because in their vehicle was a security guide for Royal Jordanian Airlines that contained information on passenger lists. Houssaiky's mother, Nada Houssaiky, works in the airline industry.

But police were worried that the cell phones the men were buying could be sent overseas to detonate bombs. In recent years, some terrorists have set off explosives using cell phones. Meanwhile, in Caro, three Arab-American men from Texas -- brothers Adham Othman, 21, of Dallas and Louai Othman, 23, of Mesquite, and their cousin Awad Muhareb, 18, also of Mesquite -- remained locked in Tuscola County jail. The men had photos of the Mackinac Bridge and 1,000 cell phones.

But their attorney, Nabih Ayad, said they were merely trying to earn some money -- like the Dearborn men -- and were just taking tourist photos of the bridge.
This is quite a sympathetic overview of the situation. Haven't we had trouble with other Muslim "tourists" taking photos of targets.

The Detroit News, on the other hand, offers this take on the release of the Dearbornstan Two:
Local authorities here dropped felony terrorism charges against Houssaiky and his friend Osama Abulhassan allowing the American-born Arab men to return to Dearborn with their families.

The case remains under investigation, officials said, and both men still could face indictment if additional evidence surfaces. The FBI has been apprised of the case, but has not opened an investigation, according to an agency spokesman in Cincinnati.

For a week, the men, who bought disposable cell phones that were feared to be part of a terror plot, were jailed together and kept away from other inmates in the Washington County Jail. They were confident they would eventually be exonerated but were uncertain how long it would take.

"We just want to make sure our family and friends stick with us," Abulhassan said after an emotional hug with his father, Sobih Abulhassan. "We'll get our reputations back."

Both men checked their anger and largely declined to elaborate on their week behind bars. Abulhassan said it was obvious that the sheriff's deputy who arrested them did so only because they are of Arab descent. (obviously, what other reason could there be for arresting Muslims? inner-jihad perhaps?-H)

In jail, "they weren't treating us well. claim torture, that's what the jihad manual says to do-H) But after a couple days, they told us, 'We found out you're good guys,' " Houssaiky said.

Abulhassan, 20, and Houssaiky were standout students and athletes at Fordson High School. They are college students who looked to make money reselling the popular TracFones purchased in several states, including Ohio.

They found themselves in jail Aug. 8 after a Radio Shack clerk reported their cell phone purchases to police and said the men were acting suspiciously. The FBI had issued a warning this summer alerting law enforcement to be on the lookout for consumers making large purchases of cell phones.

Their arrest stunned friends and former teachers. Their fathers noted that no one who knows them doubted their innocence. Even so, the charges -- filed by an assistant prosecutor while her boss was on vacation last week -- hurt, the family said.

"It's disappointing when you consider a place your home, and they take that from you," Diana Houssaiky said of the incident. "They tried to make it sound like you wanted to destroy it."

Perhaps it was inevitable that two young Arabic men with $10,837 in cash and an interest in cell phones said to be used to trigger bombs were bound to attract attention in a small southeastern Ohio town that is 98 percent white and where American flags line the street. (or anywhere else in the country these days-H

After a deputy pulled them over for not using their turn signal, he found airline information in their car that authorities regarded as ominous.

What they didn't understand is that Nada Houssaiky, Ali's mother, works in customer service for Aircraft Service International Group at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. What the deputy saw in her car was her training manual, she said. (I certainly believe that-H)

"It was a nightmare," Nada Houssaiky said of the ordeal.

Washington County Prosecutor James Schneider disputed that account, saying that papers in the glove box included detailed airline information, including how to remotely check baggage.(Hmm, obviously an "Islamophobe"-H)

He added that Nada Houssaiky has not cooperated with his office in the investigation.(Is that what the advisor at CAIR advised?-H)

Schneider let the two men go after checking with the FBI.

"We couldn't make the tie-in" to terrorism, he said.

Both men must return to court here Sept. 1 on a misdemeanor charge of falsification. Authorities said the men gave two accounts of why they purchased the phones.

"I have a feeling it had to do more with a language barrier than anything else," said Dennis Sipe, Houssaiky's attorney.(that accursed language barrier! How many young peaceful Muslims has it driven to violence?!-H)
While not the damning indictment it could have been, it does bring up some important points that the Free Press ignored. Either way, I hope somebody is keeping their eye on these two.

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