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Saudi Witch Hunt Nets
[Maybe facing torture]:
Br. Hammad Abdur-Raheem and Others Facing Similar
Persecution in U.S.
By KAREN BRANCH-BRIOSO
updated: 06/22/2003 06:24 PM
WASHINGTON - Saudi officials have arrested U.S.
citizen Ahmed Abu-Ali as
part of their inquiry into the suicide bombings
May 12 in Riyadh, and
federal agents followed up with a search of his
parents' home in Virginia
last week, according to the family's lawyer.
Ashraf Nubani, a Washington-area attorney, was
contacted by relatives after
they heard of Abu-Ali's arrest about two weeks
ago. Nubani said he has tried
to get details of the arrest ever since from
State Department officials. But
details are scarce.
"The only information we've been getting is he
was first in Medina, then
moved to Riyadh under local authorities' custody,
(and) it's part of this
investigation with the recent bombings, but we
need to know that our
government has seen him," Nubani said.
"What concerns me regarding Ahmed is our
government can't get details to
see, was he tortured, has he been fed, what
exactly he is being charged
with. If it were a Gibson or Schwartz, we'd have
information the same day,
but because his name is Ahmed, they haven't been
to see him."
Kelly Shannon of the State Department's Bureau of
Consular Affairs said U.S.
consular officials had informally asked local
Saudi law enforcement
officials for access to Abu-Ali without success.
They made a more recent
formal request, she said.
"We formally requested through a diplomatic
channel through the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs," Shannon said Friday. "I believe
it was done yesterday. We
have not had access to him yet."
Shannon said she could not discuss other details
of the arrest, due to
privacy considerations. But when asked whether an
FBI search of his home had
in some way delayed State Department efforts in
the case, she said no. "Even
when an American citizen has committed a crime,
we always request access,"
Nubani insists that Abu-Ali, 22, has done no
wrong - and would not have had
any role in the suicide bombings in Riyadh that
killed 35, including nine
Americans and nine Saudi attackers.
"I know Ahmed. I've known him since I came to
Virginia five years ago,"
Nubani said. "He wouldn't have anything to do
with that at all."
Abu-Ali, born to parents of Jordanian heritage,
left his Falls Church, Va.,
home at least a year ago to study Islam at Medina
University, in Saudi
Arabia's second-holiest city after Mecca, Nubani
It was there where he was arrested as part of the
by the Saudi government since the attacks in
Riyadh, Nubani said, citing
reports from U.S. consular officials. Officials
at the Saudi embassy in
Washington could not be reached for comment
FBI agents arrived Monday at the home of
Abu-Ali's parents with a search
warrant, Nubani said. Listed on the search
warrant were the names of several
other men - including others whose suburban
Washington homes were also
searched last week. Most of the men are part of a
group that played
paintball together until after the
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks,
said Hammad Abdur-Raheem, also of Falls Church.
Abdur-Raheem, 35, is one of nearly a dozen
suburban Washington Muslims whose
homes and cars were searched in recent months by
FBI agents. The search
warrants sought evidence that the men had
traveled abroad and supported
terrorist groups. The search warrants for
Abu-Ali's home were no different.
Nubani said the warrants sought evidence that the
men had participated in
"military-style training" or
items taken from Abu-Ali's
home, Nubani said, was the family's computer.
2003-06-28 Sat 09:03ct