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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Suspicious minds

Two Arab-American men from Dearborn, Michigan who were arrested in Ohio on suspicion of connections to terrorist activities have been released by police. Prosecutors have dropped terror-related charges against Osama Sabhi Abulhassan and Ali Houssaiky for lack of evidence. Both men are now alleging that they were victims of racial profiling and say that "they’ve lost a sense of belonging to the country they’ve long called home." When interviewed on CNN, they complained that "carrying cash is not illegal. Buying cell phones is not illegal."

True. But the two men had in their car when they were arrested: $11 000 in cash, 600 pre-paid cell phones, airplane passenger lists and information on airport security. They also lied about their identities to police when arrested, and it probably didn't help when police found out that one of their real names was Osama. Police had been warned earlier by an FBI bulletin to be on the alert for bulk purchases of cell phones, which can be used to finance terrorism. Seems reasonable to be suspicious, no?

OK - it's wrong to make assumptions about someone solely based on race or appearance. Most Arab Americans are not connected to terrorism. However, being Arab or Muslim should not exempt anyone from police scrutiny solely on that basis, either. Suspicious behaviour is suspicious behaviour, regardless of race or religion. Suppose state troopers stopped a truck on the highway driven by a young male skinhead named Joe "McVeigh" Smith, loaded with sacks of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and a road map of Washington DC in the glove compartment. Buying fertilizer is not illegal and the guy may be a legitimate farmer, but I would hope that police would arrest him too, appearance notwithstanding.

1 comment:

PGP said...

Of course...........
What amazes me is that there are no details forthcoming about why the cops let them go!
Lack of evidence? Don't think so.....
More to this than just the obvious I think.