September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Title:Authorities express surprise at the numbers of Pakistanis calling the INS on each other
Author:M. R. Farrukh
Blurb:Like hundreds of those arrested, Ahmed Imtiaz was found to have no links with the atrocity of September 11th. He recently found out why he was arrested: taking advantage of the post-September 11th atmosphere, a former friend told the authorities that Imtiaz was engaged in suspicious activities.
Body:Ahmed Imtiaz is one those hundreds of thousands of people who come to the United States dreaming about a happy and prosperous life. Before September 11th, irrespective of his legal status, he was spending a quiet life earning an honorable living for his household.
Two months after September 11th, he was picked up from his home in New Jersey. His apartment was raided by the FBI, the INS and a squad of special forces. At around 2:30 a.m. his wife, three kids and himself were awakened by a continuous ringing of the door bell. When he got out and saw the officials he panicked. He had previously never encountered a police officer at his door. The sight of the officers of three agencies belonging to the most powerful country in the world on his doorstep completely unnerved him. The officers took him to his bedroom and searched his home for two hours. He swore upon his innocence, pleaded with them. They arrested him.
Like hundreds of those arrested Imtiaz was found to have no links with the atrocity of September 11th. Freed of terrorism charges he was transferred from FBI detention to the INS center. There are people in the INS center detained for seven months now, without charges, because the law allows that. Imtiaz found himself charged under immigration law. He was found to be in violation of a deportation order from five years ago.
Hundreds of thousands of people, under deportation orders, continue to live in this country and make a living. Some deportation cases last four years. I know of several which have been resolved in favor of the individual. Some manage to achieve legal status through the process.
Imtiaz was breaking the law by living in the country but it was not a crime severe enough for imprisonment for five months. Three months into his confinement he was allowed to see his family and friends, and a lawyer!
Imtiaz is now facing deportation. He has only a few more days in this county.
He has recently found out why he was arrested. A few years ago an argument with a friend over a trivial matter became an open sore between them. They stopped talking and Imtiaz forgot about the matter over time. Taking advantage of the post- September 11th atmosphere, the former friend told the authorities that Imtiaz was engaged in suspicious activities. The authorities were on a war footing and acted so.
Mrs. Imtiaz has said that she and her family are not devastated by the fact that the family is moving to Pakistan. They have a home there and are reconciled to making do with less. They are shocked by this unconscionable act.
Senators and FBI officials commented on the fact that it is people within the Pakistani communities who are telling on each other and that is leading to many arrests. A few days ago a high ranking official of the FBI said in a conversation, at the end of a reception organized by Muslim groups in his honor, that they dont know who is who in the communities, so in many cases they often act on allegations people make against each other.
The world has changed for Pakistanis and other Muslims living in the US after September 11th. If we do not act on our conscience, as Muslims are enjoined to do, then what has happened to Imtiaz may happen ever closer to home.