Ohio Muslim Cleared of Terrorism Allegations

7 08 2007

Investigation clears Hilliard man

Articles accused him of supporting terrorists

Monday,  August 6, 2007 3:28 AM

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Abukar Arman of Hilliard had a busy July: He cared for his four children, chaperoned Habitat for Humanity volunteers, lost his job and resigned from a Franklin County board.

He has spent most recent days denying that he is an Islamic extremist and terrorist sympathizer, and contending that fair-minded people would agree.

For the past few weeks, Arman — who served on the county’s Criminal Justice Planning Board — was under scrutiny by federal and local law enforcement.

“We did a background check and found no criminal or terrorist connections,” said county Administrator Don L. Brown. “Mr. Arman is not a person of interest.”

Before July 11, Arman was just another Somali immigrant. He taught in the Columbus Public Schools, but few at the Downtown headquarters recognized his name.

He has been a longtime volunteer on community boards, but several politicians didn’t know much about him.

They were about to learn.

Since mid-July, Arman has been the subject of three online articles at FrontPage Magazine. Edited by conservative David Horowitz, it claims 620,000 readers a month.

Arman said the articles misrepresent columns he wrote to further peace and understanding, using guilt by association to weave a tissue of suspicion.

He volunteers on the local suicide-prevention hot line but stands accused in the articles of supporting those who incite suicide bombers.

Freelance writer Patrick Poole, also of Hilliard, said his articles have exposed a terrorist-friendly network that is infiltrating central Ohio government and gaining the confidence of its leaders.

High in this plan, Poole argues, is Arman, a slight, soft-spoken 47-year-old who came to America in 1980 for an education.

Franklin County commissioners appointed Arman to the county’s Criminal Justice Planning Board in early 2005. That alarms Poole, who says that Arman, in his writings, has expressed support for the rule of the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia and for Youseff Al-Qaradawi, designated as a global terrorist by the United States.

Arman counters that even U.S. government officials now are talking with the Islamic Courts Union, which, despite its harsh fundamentalist rule, did stop lawlessness for a time in Somalia. He says that his writings simply point out that Al-Qaradawi is viewed by many Muslims as a moderate.

After the articles ran, FrontPage readers started sending angry e-mails to Franklin County commissioners.

Poole notes the county Web site says that the criminal justice board oversees homeland security. County officials said that is an error: The board oversees justice grants and court programs, and handles no sensitive information.

Two commissioners, Marilyn Brown and Mary Jo Kilroy, didn’t respond to Poole. The third, Paula Brooks, sent an e-mail to Brown on July 12.

“Don, I expect this to be investigated expeditiously,” Brooks wrote. “If true, these allegations are definitely grounds for removal.”

Brooks said her wording was stronger than her intention. “In hindsight, I wish that I had used the term fact-finding,” she said.

But leaders of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, said Brooks’ reaction fed what they fear is growing into a witch hunt.

The FrontPage articles have expanded to two other central Ohio residents: Ahmad Al-Akhras, national vice chairman of CAIR and a member of the Columbus Community Relations Commission; and Asma Mobin-Uddin, a pediatrician and president of the Ohio CAIR chapter.

Brooks said she would have asked for an investigation into Arman regardless of his ethnicity or religion. Arman is Arab, African and a Muslim.

“I don’t want to see someone falsely accused,” she said. “But my concern is for the safety and security of our community. I want the facts to be reviewed. I want to make sure we have people who support our government and our way of life working for Franklin County.”

Brown said he told commissioners of his findings. A written report, he said, “isn’t appropriate due to the nature of the inquiry.”

But Arman, CAIR and Poole all had hoped for written vindication.

“No, absolutely, I am not a sympathizer in any way, shape or form for terrorism,” Arman said. He said he began writing his columns to educate people on the Muslim viewpoint, hoping to further peace.

“Read my writings,” he begs.

Poole, who moved back to Hilliard in 2005, said he was stunned at a decade’s worth of changes in his hometown, including an influx of Muslim activists.

Poole previously worked for conservative Republican research groups, including the Free Congress Foundation. His writings question how three Democratic county commissioners could appoint Arman.

“The people we’ve elected and paid, they’ve really dropped the ball,” Poole said.

Poole said he’s not anti-Muslim; he lived with a Muslim family while working in Albania. But he said Arman and his friends aren’t typical of central Ohio’s Muslims.

Al-Akhras said Poole is part of a trend to discredit Muslims who “rise up and get accepted in the community. Some people feel threatened by this. We are seeing this across the country.”

Arman lost his teaching job last month. He blames the FrontPage campaign. But a district spokesman said Arman failed to recertify his state credentials and, meanwhile, the schools lost a grant for his position as an adult-education instructor.

As the county looked into his appointment to the justice planning board, it found a clear problem. Board members are required to be “citizens of the county.” Arman, who is not a U.S. citizen, resigned Friday.

“Mr. Arman is a man of the greatest integrity, kindness and responsibility,” Mobin-Uddin said.

She recalled a visit with Arman a few years ago to the home of an ex-Marine who displayed an anti-Muslim bumper sticker.

“We stood and talked with the man on his doorstep for an hour and a half. Mr. Arman never raised his voice. He told the man, ‘You know, sir, I have four children. I’ve lived in this country for decades. If I knew someone who was going to put a bomb somewhere, I would be the first one to jump on them.’ ”

 


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4 responses

7 08 2007
aullori

For me this strikes home what I was told way back in Sociology 101 (okay it may have been a later course but you get the idea.) The real threat to racism is not the guy who lives next door and does not like the color of you skin.

The real problem is institutional racism. (When the government, the media, the office where you work, the school you attend… etc…) starts to treat you different because of the color of your skin. In a nutshell those who can actually destroy your life. (The destruction of a man’s life as defined by his inability to work, have a place to live, raise his family, and just the basic fundamental elements a man needs to thrive.)

Now I once went to college with a man who was having his college dorm room checked on a regular basis (by the local FBI) and I was flabbergasted. I said, “what about your civil liberties – your right to privacy?” And he said (as offhanded as if he was informing me of the color of this mother’s favorite dress.) “I have none I’m not an American citizen.” I’m glad that you posted this for that reason. I don’t think most Americans understand this.

7 08 2007
carimuslima

As Salaam Walakium Rahamatullahi Wa’baraketuh Sis,

Subhanallah this is really scary to know that whatever we write can be taken out of context and show that we’re supposidly terrorist supporters. It’s scary to think that, I’m not sure exactly how the brother handled his allegations, but if he handled it patiently and put his full trust in Allah inshallah he will be rewarded for this trial he faced.

It feels like our government is stripping our civil liberties away piece by piece, using censorship and taking our words to mean something else. Astaphrallah, may Allah protect all of us from a situation like this brother faced. Amin. Jazak Allah Khairan for sharing this article. Hugs😉

7 08 2007
Shahrzad

I dont know what i should say really. When i surf news, i read similar stories and it seems day to day it gets more!
If muslims leave Us of A, the american government can never see morality in his society for those are muslims who have well education, stable family and more moral norms there.

8 08 2007
adikbongsu

Salam ‘alaik sister,

thks for sharing this story, it is sad when someone is falsely accuse😦

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