Posted on Mon, Nov. 17, 2008
Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: November 18, 2008 08:48:41 AM
WASHINGTON — An American Muslim subjected to several years of intense FBI scrutiny and questioning about links to terrorism has been held without charges, access to a lawyer or contact with his family for nearly three months by the security services of the
The case of Naji Hamdan, coupled with FBI interrogations of an American citizen secretly detained without charges in East Africa, raises the question of whether the Bush administration has asked other nations to hold Americans suspected of terrorism links whom
That allegation is central to a lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union was planning to file Tuesday in federal court in
"If the U.S. government is responsible for this detention and we believe it is, this is clearly illegal because our government can't contract away the Constitution by enlisting the aid of other governments that do not adhere to the Constitution's requirements," said Ahilan Arulanantham of the ACLU's southern California office.
The lawsuit, to be brought on behalf of Hamdan's wife and brother, demands that the
"The most elemental legal principles by which we govern ourselves cannot countenance the lawless detention of a
A spokesman for the FBI's
FBI headquarters disputed the allegation that it had asked the UAE to arrest Hamdan but acknowledged that it routinely interviews detainees held in foreign jails.
"The FBI does not ask foreign nations to detain
A State Department spokesman said the department had been aware of Hamdan's detention and that a
The UAE Embassy said in an e-mail to McClatchy that all questions should be directed to the police in
Hamdan is a 42-year-old naturalized
Hamdan's interaction with the FBI began in 1999, when agents visited him at his
Hamdan's wife, Mona Mallouk, and brother, Hossam Hemdan, insisted that he's never had any terrorism involvement or been charged with any crime despite the longtime FBI scrutiny.
"Naji hates war. He hates what happened on September 11. He hates terrorism," Mona Hamdan said in a telephone interview from
Hamdan moved to Abu Dhabi in 2006 and set up a business of importing used cars doing car repairs, but then moved his family to
In August, he was questioned at the
Hemdan, who owns automobile emissions testing stations in Los Angeles, said he arranged for Hamdan to meet the agents at the FBI's request.
"He (Hamdan) said 'That's fine, I'll see them,'" Hemdan recalled, adding that his brother later declined to discuss the meeting, except to say that "the agents know all this stuff about me and you and other people."
"I believe they are intercepting my phone calls and emails," Hemdan said of the FBI.
On Aug. 28, UAE security officers took Hamdan away as he, his wife and three children ate lunch in their
She said that when her husband failed to return, she began a fruitless search for him at police stations.
"I called the
The consular officer who telephoned confirmed that the embassy was aware of Hamdan arrest the day it occurred, said Mallouk, who hasn't spoken to her husband since he made a brief call to her shortly after his arrest.
The case finds echoes in the secret detention in
Meshal, who had spent time in Somalia with suspected Islamic extremists, was interrogated by FBI agents in Nairobi, secretly flown back into Somalia, turned over to Ethiopian intelligence officers and then flown to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where he was imprisoned three months before being released without charges.
"I think you see a trend that reflects illegal detentions going underground or off the books, where the
Hemdan said the FBI visited his brother, himself and other Muslims in Hawthorne after the Sept. 11 attacks, showing them pictures of the hijackers and asking if they knew them. Agents called on Hamdan once at home and twice at his business, he said.
The brothers' names were placed on watch lists at airports and they would be pulled aside and interrogated about ties to terrorist groups every time they entered or left the
In 2006, Hamdan and his wife moved to the UAE. She said Hamdan was frustrated over the FBI's scrutiny, and both were concerned about drugs and other problems at high school their eldest son was due to attend.
In the UAE, Hamdan set up a used car and auto repair business. But he decided to move the family to
Last year, during a visit to
"Where ever he went, they chased him, government vehicles with black windows," said Hemdan. "From my perspective, they wanted him to see them. They'd drive over the (lane) dividers and over curbs. They wanted to be seen so he gets scared and leaves. It's like 'You are not welcomed here.'"
"I told him to go to the
Earlier this year, Lebanese security officers detained Hamdan at
Her husband was "slapped" while being interrogated for four days, during which he was accused alternatively of being an al Qaida member or working for Israeli or
Hamdan was released without charges.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs