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Dallas attorney Khalid Hamideh, a Muslim born in the United States to Palestinian parents, is frustrated. In the aftermath of the horrific Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America, Hamideh has represented numerous people of Middle Eastern extraction whose rights he says have been trampled by law enforcement authorities in the U.S. and abroad trying to prevent further terrorist attacks. But he admits there isn’t much he can do for them. “That is the big frustration,” Hamideh says. As an example, Hamideh cites the case of Bar Javad, a 30-year-old Pakistani who lives in Richardson, Texas. On Sept. 20, while he was in London trying to return to the United States following a vacation in Pakistan, Javad was questioned and strip-searched by American Airlines employees, Hamideh alleges. Javad was allowed to return to the ticket counter, where he was met by British transportation police who detained him for six hours, forcing him to wait until the following day to board a plane for home, the lawyer says. Hamideh says he is writing a letter to American and, if not satisfied with the airline’s response, will consider filing a discrimination suit. But he’s not optimistic that Javad would receive much satisfaction if he decides to go to court. An American Airlines representative did not return two calls seeking comment. With the images of the destruction at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon still on their minds, juries are not likely to be sympathetic, Hamideh says. Hamideh also says that not much can be done if immigrants’ lives are disrupted by federal authorities. “In times of crisis, the [U.S.] Constitution gets put on the shelf along with the dirty socks.” Texas attorneys allege that federal authorities are targeting Middle Easterners around the state in an attempt to nab anyone believed to have ties to terrorists. The FBI held Dr. Al-Badr M.H. Al-Hazmi, a Saudi-trained radiologist working at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, as a material witness for almost two weeks in New York City while looking into possible links between him and Muslim terrorists who hijacked the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. Federal authorities released Al-Hazmi on Sept. 24, and he returned to San Antonio the following day. “Obviously, they had no information linking him to events that occurred Sept. 11 or terrorism, or they would have kept him,” says San Antonio solo Gerald Goldstein, who represents Al-Hazmi. Goldstein alleges his client was not allowed to speak with a lawyer for about a week. “We spent a week unable to communicate with our client despite numerous letters to every agency I could think of,” Goldstein says. On Sept. 27, the San Antonio Express-News reported that federal authorities had cleared Al-Hazmi. According to the article, Mary Jo White, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement: “Al-Hazmi, who had counsel and was released, voluntarily answered all questions put to him. He was not and is not a subject of this investigation.” The Washington Post reported on Sept. 26 that Al-Hazmi had been on an FBI “watch list” of people who might have information about the events leading up to the attacks in New York and Washington. An affidavit that supported Al-Hazmi’s detention alleged that he received a phone call in October 1999 from a person with the same last name as Osama bin Laden, described by President George W. Bush as a prime suspect behind the Sept. 11 attacks. Goldstein says bin Laden has many relatives, and most of his family is “very loyal to the United States.” The affidavit also alleged that Al-Hazmi made airline reservations through Travelocity.com — a reservation service allegedly used by some of the suspected hijackers — for a Sept. 22 flight to San Diego. Goldstein says Al-Hazmi had planned a trip with his wife and children and that the reservation service is used by many people. Houston solo Steven “Rocket” Rosen says his client, Atallah Fuad Khory of Spring, Texas, ran into trouble with federal authorities after a rental car clerk alleged that Khory told her that he was about to get a pilot’s license and to “watch the news” — an allegation Rosen disputes. Khory, a Palestinian taxi driver, has been detained by the FBI since Sept. 18 and is charged with being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. “He’s caught up in a feeding frenzy,” Rosen says. Rosen says he has been unable to get Khory out of jail despite evidence from Roy Albinson, who testified at a Sept. 24 hearing before a federal magistrate that Khory never told the Alamo car rental clerk to watch the news. U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson of Houston ordered Khory held without bail after finding that he would be a flight risk because he is an illegal immigrant, trained as a pilot and has family in Jerusalem. Abe Martinez, the Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case, disputes allegations that Khory has become a target for federal authorities because of the Sept. 11 attacks. Martinez alleges that Khory is in the United States illegally and has made a statement that he didn’t seek an extension on his visa or a change in his legal status because it wouldn’t be granted. Bruce Coane, a principal in Houston’s Coane & Associates, says he represents Khory in the immigration case. Because of the quota system for visas used in the U.S., Khory didn’t become eligible for a work permit and green card until this past August, Coane says. Martinez alleges that Khory admitted to acquiring two firearms, although the law prohibits an illegal alien from having a gun. Khory acquired the firearms by falsely claiming that he was a U.S. citizen, he alleges. According to Martinez, the Sept. 11 attacks aren’t the reason authorities are interested in Khory. “The federal government has been aggressively pursuing firearms violations over the past two years,” Martinez says. “Anybody who tells you that it’s only now that we’re presenting these types of cases is providing inaccurate information.” Martinez says a sworn affidavit from a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent indicates Khory acquired his pilot’s license in March. There has been an allegation that Khory has been serving as a pilot for people believed to be Saudi Arabians, he says. The FBI has an obligation to follow up on every allegation, and that’s what happened in Khory’s case, Martinez adds. “Obviously, the FBI has been criticized by many because they were unable to predict what happened in New York and Washington,” he says. Dallas solo Karen Pennington says she represents a Palestinian man arrested on Sept. 22 after federal officials alleged that he is a flight risk and a danger to the community because he allegedly has ties to Widh el Hage, who was convicted this year in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Pennington says her client, Ghassan Ahmed Dahduli, has lived in this country for 23 years and is prominent in the Islamic community in Dallas. Dahduli lived in Tucson, Ariz., where el Hage also lived, and his name appeared in el Hage’s personal phone book, she says. “What control did my client have over what was in [el Hage's] book?” Pennington asks. The Immigration and Naturalization Service alleges Dahduli obtained a work visa through fraud, the Associated Press reported on Sept. 24. Hamideh says he knows of about 25 Muslims who have been called in for questioning by the FBI and estimates that as many as 150 Muslims in the Dallas-Fort Worth area may have been questioned. In some instances, Hamideh alleges, FBI agents have visited Middle Easterners employed by the city of Dallas at their workplace and asked them in front of other employees to submit to questioning, creating an awkward situation for them with co-workers. UNFETTERED POWER? Gerald Treece, an associate dean and constitutional law professor at South Texas College of Law, says immigrants’ rights frequently have been trampled in times of war. In the 1970s, when the American embassy in Iran was stormed and U.S. citizens were taken hostage, then-President Jimmy Carter revoked the visas of Iranians in the United States and ordered them and Iran’s embassy staff off American soil, Treece says. Treece notes that lawyers aren’t likely to sue over the latest incidents because the courts have upheld the federal government’s authority to take away the rights not only of immigrants but, in some cases, also of U.S. citizens during wartime. In 1943, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of Fred Korematsu, a Japanese-American born in this country, for refusing to move from San Leandro, Calif., into a prison camp. Then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the internment of thousands of Japanese-Americans in camps following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The high court held in Korematsu v. United States that, when America is at war, the government has the power to do everything necessary to assure victory in that war, even though the exercise of those powers can infringe on the constitutional rights of individual citizens. “We would hope that we would not repeat that sad time in U.S. history,” Goldstein says. However, some attorneys say Americans could lose some rights under a measure currently before Congress. Pennington says anti-terrorism legislation backed by President George W. Bush’s administration goes “way beyond” the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Among the provisions causing concern for immigration advocates is a proposal to give the attorney general authority to certify noncitizens as terrorists and detain them indefinitely. Another concern is the proposed expansion of a 1978 anti-espionage law to loosen restrictions on using wiretaps and other types of surveillance to collect evidence against many ordinary criminals who don’t engage in spying or terrorism. Doug Laycock, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, says there is an assumption that if law enforcement authorities investigate everyone, all the terrorists will be caught. But that won’t reduce the risk that people will slip over the border to engage in terrorism, he says. If because of the recent attacks, life is made too difficult for one segment of the population, the terrorists win, Laycock says, adding, “We will have shut down part of what makes this country free.”

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