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The Arrest of Rabih Haddad and Local Law Enforcement

by Ann Arbor Bill of Rights Defense Committee Sunday, Jul. 20, 2003 at 12:43 AM

A preliminary inquiry begun last week by the Ann Arbor Bill of Rights Defense Committee (AABORDC) has revealed information suggesting that the Ann Arbor Police Department (AAPD) may have provided assistance to federal authorities in the arrest of Rabih Haddad.


July 17, 2003

ANN ARBOR, MI - A preliminary inquiry begun last week by the Ann Arbor Bill of Rights Defense Committee (AABORDC) has revealed information suggesting that the Ann Arbor Police Department (AAPD) may have provided assistance to federal authorities in the arrest of Rabih Haddad. The AABORDC calls upon the Ann Arbor City Council and the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners to conduct a thorough public investigation into the role of local law enforcement in Mr. Haddad's arrest.

Rabih Haddad, co-founder of the Global Relief Foundation (GRF) and an Ann Arbor Muslim leader, was jailed without bail for 19 months before he was deported to Lebanon on July 14th. His only offense was overstaying his visa although on April 30, 2001, Haddad had applied for an "alien labor certification" in order to obtain permanent residency. While Haddad was never charged with any crime, the federal government, relying upon secret evidence, accused him of being a danger to national security and having connections to al-Qaida. Haddad denied these claims but was never given the opportunity to refute the accusations or evidence, if any, against him.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) arrested Haddad at his home near Ann Arbor on December 14, 2001. That same day, GRF offices in Bosnia were searched and the FBI's Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), wielding secret, sealed warrants, raided GRF offices and the home of its executive director. Last week, Special Agent Dawn Clenney of the FBI's Detroit office confirmed for the AABORDC that the INS was part of the Detroit JTTF at the time of Haddad's arrest. After an initial denial by AAPD Public Relations Officer George Patak, Lieutenant Detective Chris Heatley also confirmed last week that the AAPD officers have been attending Detroit JTTF meetings since before Haddad's arrest. When asked if the AAPD had prior knowledge or participated in the arrest, Heatley stated, "I have no comment."

A refusal to comment is an admission of nothing. However, given government claims and Haddad's significant ties to Ann Arbor it seems unlikely that the AAPD had no role whatsoever in Haddad's arrest. It seems more likely that the AAPD shared intelligence with the JTTF, participated in planning, offered backup, or, perhaps, even undertook surveillance of Haddad's activities in Ann Arbor. These are all matters that should be addressed in a public investigation. Haddad's arrest also came two months to the day after the Ann Arbor News published an interview in which AAPD Chief Daniel Oates mentioned an FBI "watch list which has hundreds of Arabic names." The list was part of a federal dragnet that swept up more than 1,200 US citizens and non-citizens--mostly south Asians and Arabs. Oates complained, "We need descriptions, ages, dates of birth, drivers' license numbers, pictures ... to capture these people".

According to yesterday's Ann Arbor News, a press release from ICE (formerly INS) headquarters in Washington, DC hailed Haddad's deportation and claimed "This action is also a testament to the cooperation between law enforcement agencies in pursuing and removing those individuals linked to terrorism." The people of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County have a right to know if their police forces participated or plan to participate in unjust or unconstitutional federal law enforcement operations like the arrest of Haddad. It is noteworthy, too, that Ann Arbor's recently adopted civil liberties resolution would likely not prevent AAPD participation in future arrests of other immigrants who like Haddad are accused of threatening national security.

The members of the AABORDC do not know whether the accusations against Rabih Haddad are true or not. We do know that he was jailed for months in violation of fundamental rights that our Constitution affords even to non-citizens. We also know that our freedom is only as secure as that of the most vulnerable among us. We reject the phony tradeoff between security and liberty and call upon our local elected officials to prohibit, by law, local law enforcement participation in the civil liberties abuses of the federal government. We also call upon our local elected officials to investigate AAPD and Washtenaw County Sheriff's Dept. involvement in the arrest of Rabih Haddad. Finally, we invite like-minded people and organizations to join us in our efforts.

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