A Peoria woman is circulating a petition asking Illinois members of Congress to investigate why two Muslims, including one from Peoria, are being imprisoned indefinitely in the U.S. without charges, even as an FBI investigation into one of them apparently is heating up.
Razia Ahmed, a member of Women for Humanity said people come (to the U.S.) from all over the world to a free country, to get away from corrupt dictatorships."
But when the U.S. jails people indefinitely without charging them, she said, even if they are not U.S. citizens, that goes against what the U.S. has stood for.
She wants investigations into the situations of Palestinian professor Sami al-Arian who is in jail in Florida even though acquitted by a jury, and Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri of Qatar, the Bradley University graduate student who was arrested in Dec. 2001 in Peoria and is now jailed in South Carolina.
Peoria businessman David Brown said two FBI agents knocked on his front door two weeks ago to question him and his wife about al-Marri.
Brown said he never met al-Marri. His wife, a native of Syria, once translated for al-Marri's pregnant wife because both were seeing the same Peoria physician, and al-Marri's wife didn't speak English.
Al-Marri then phoned the Brown residence to thank Brown's wife for her help, a call that lasted about 30 seconds.
Brown said the FBI asked how al-Marri got his phone number. He said he didn't know, but his phone number is listed in the phone book.
"They referred to him as an enemy combatant," Brown said. "My number was on his phone log."
In a scenario that sounds like a plot from the TV show Law and Order, the FBI has contacted everyone al-Marri called, Brown has heard.
But initially they skipped Brown, apparently because of his non-Arabic name, Ahmed said, calling that a type of racial profiling.
Brown said he asked the agents why they were contacting him now, and they replied they were looking over the file and checking loose ends. "They thought David Brown was a wrong number," he said they told him.
They also have interviewed the physician who saw both women, Brown said.
"If he's guilty I have no sympathy. If not, he's entitled to something for tying up five years of his life without being charged. I don't understand the logic of holding people without charges," Brown said.
"If Americans were held under similar circumstances, our state department would say 'charge them or release them,' " he said.