Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Recalling Ordeal of Suspicion Oklahoman Interrogated in London, Washington

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Recalling Ordeal of Suspicion Oklahoman Interrogated in London, Washington

Article excerpt

HE WAS INTERROGATED by British authorities, marched through Heathrow Airport in handcuffs and whisked back to America, learning only hours later that he was not a suspect in the bombing of the federal building.

Now, Abraham Ahmad just wants to return to a life of safe obscurity.

Ahmad, 31, said Sunday that he thinks his Middle Eastern appearance and name - he is a native of Jordan who has held U.S. citizenship for five years - plus the fact that he was coming from Oklahoma City prompted authorities to detain him.

"People automatically think that the person who did this is from the Middle East. But I didn't think that the FBI would think so," he said.

He said he is a practicing Muslim but not a member of any radical Islamic group, and he condemned the bombing.

"This is against Islam," Ahmad said as one of his two young daughters peered cautiously through a doorway at a reporter. "Because I am a Muslim, I would not do this."

Ahmad said he came to Oklahoma at 19 to attend college, eventually graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in computer science. The former construction worker and computer technician said he is trying to set up a business exporting American clothing to his native country.

On Wednesday, Ahmad left Oklahoma City for Chicago shortly after Wednesday's bombing, planning to fly on to Jordan via Rome. He said he did not even hear about the bombing until he saw it on an airport television in Chicago.

U.S. agents detained him there, searching his carry-on baggage and exhaustively checking the validity of his American passport. The interrogation made him miss his flight to Rome, so he caught a plane to London.

When British immigration officials discovered he was from Oklahoma City, he was handcuffed and questioned for four or five hours, Ahmad said. He said he asked them to check with the authorities who had grilled him in Chicago, but they curtly told him not to tell them how to do their jobs. …

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