Monday, November 07, 2005

Ahmad A. Ahmad's Not So Excellent Adventure

A Chicago Tribune editorial assistant of Jordanian descent recently had an encounter with the brave (sic) new world of post 9-11 America.

Ahmad A. Ahmad has lived in the United States for 12 years, and speaks English with an accent. He was taking a train from Chicago to New York to visit his sister when the trip was interrupted by a derailment on the tracks ahead. The passengers waited outside Albany for a bus to take them the rest of the way. In the bus terminal, Ahmad drew the attention of a middle aged white man who began to pepper him with questions.

I will allow Mr. Ahmad to tell you the rest:

I decided to call my mother in Chicago to tell her what happened. We spoke in our native tongue, Arabic.

The man whispered something into his girlfriend's ear.

Once on the bus, the man stepped inside the bathroom. He was there for quite a while. Before long, his girlfriend joined him inside.

This was all a bit odd.

I heard sirens approaching, and the bus suddenly came to a stop on the side of the highway. Police cars came--so many I couldn't even begin to count them. The man and his girlfriend ran down the aisle, past me, and off the bus.

We all stepped out to see what happened.

There was the stranger, pointing to me, "He is going to blow up the Amtrak!"

The man told police he understood Arabic and had overheard my conversation. He thought I was talking to some terrorist cell when I was chatting with my mother.

The police put me in the back of their vehicle. Dogs were sniffing around, and officers from the state Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Unit were interviewing my fellow bus passengers.

My cell phone was low on battery and had turned off, but they would not turn it back on. For all they knew, it could have been a bomb. I was shocked, confused, speechless.

The authorities questioned me for nearly three hours at an Albany police station. They asked me where I was from, whether I was a United States citizen, who I knew in New York City, who I worked for, and why I was traveling alone.

I answered every question in a calm and collected demeanor.

The officers were, for the most part, courteous and understanding of my situation.

One officer, Investigator James L. Rogers of the New York State Police, would later call me twice to make sure I made it to New York City with no hassles. Once the police realized the man couldn't actually speak Arabic, they knew the allegations were baseless, and that he was a wacko, hell-bent on deporting every Muslim back to the Middle East.

Just when I was leaving, I saw that man again.

He cursed at me and called me a terrorist. "Come and fight me!" he yelled. "You're lying out of your teeth! You know you want to blow up the Amtrak!"

I know people say Americans are living in a new America, after what happened on that Tuesday morning four years ago.

For the majority of Muslims, who are peaceful, law-abiding citizens, we, too, are living in a new America.

This is our reality.

(End excerpt)

Does anyone have a doubt who the accuser voted for in 2004?


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