News: June 27, 2014
The United States government has paid $250,000 to settle a lawsuit by an Egyptian man who they say was wrongly suspected of assisting the 9/11 hijackers with a two-way aviation radio that a security guard claimed was found in the man’s hotel room overlooking the World Trade Center.
The man, Abdallah Higazy, who was jailed for more than a month, was released in January 2002 after a pilot came forward and said that the radio had been his; the guard admitted making up the story.
In his lawsuit, Mr. Higazy, a 30-year-old student at the time of his arrest, also said that he was coerced by an F.B.I. agent into making a false confession that the radio was his. He said the agent threatened his family members in Egypt, and he felt he had no choice but to make an admission to protect them.
“Abdallah Higazy was totally innocent,” said one of his lawyers, Jonathan S. Abady, “a victim of what many perceived to be the overzealous and counterproductive tendencies in law enforcement that became of such concern during the previous administration.”
Mr. Abady said the settlement, approved in July, ended a seven-year legal battle in which the suit was dismissed, and then reinstated by an appeals court.
Mr. Higazy, now 38 and living in Cairo, said by phone on Thursday that he felt relieved that the case was finally over. “But it just leaves a bitter taste in a person’s mouth,” he added. “Why did it have to take this long?”
The F.B.I. and United States attorney’s office declined to comment on the settlement, which included no admission of fault or liability by the agent, Michael Templeton; the bureau; or other government officials. Mr. Templeton had filed an affidavit saying, “At no time were any threats made by me to this subject.”
Mr. Higazy, the son of a former Egyptian diplomat, came to the United States in 2001 to study computer engineering at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, and was staying at the Millenium Hilton Hotel at the time of the attack.
After the guard claimed that the radio was found in his room, Mr. Higazy denied it was his, and asked to take a lie-detector test. It was during that process, he said, that the agent made threats against his family, leading him to give varying accounts — all false — of how he had obtained the radio.
Mr. Higazy said that after he was cleared, he remained in the United States until 2004, obtaining his master’s degree in engineering. Since then, he said, he has worked as a teacher and an assistant principal in a school in Egypt. He said that he had considered returning to the United States, but had lingering concerns about how he might be received.
“His name was synonymous with the hijackers,” said Earl S. Ward, another of his lawyers, “and I don’t think he was ever able to live that down.”
Are we really to believe this? Since Obama is a terrorist himself, we can’t trust the government to vindicate people. Where there is smoke there is fire.