October 8th, 2009 11:01 EST
FBI Deports Man for Refusing to Snitch
After Imam Foad Farahi declined to become a federal informant, the government tried to destroy him.
Bush-Cheney and Kerry-Edwards signs littered the lawns of North Miami Beach as Imam Foad Farahi walked from a mosque to his apartment a few blocks away. It was November 1, 2004, the day before George W. Bush would win a second term in office. But the Muslim holy man had been too busy fasting and praying to pay much attention to the presidential election.
For Farahi, an Iranian citizen who had lived in the United States for more than a decade, it was simply another month of Ramadan in South Florida. Then, around 5 p.m., as he neared his apartment, he saw two men standing outside. They were waiting for him.
"We`re from the FBI," one of the men said.
"OK," he responded.
They wanted to know about JosÃ© Padilla and Adnan El Shukrijumah, two South Florida men linked to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. Padilla, the so-called Dirty Bomber, was arrested in May 2002 and initially given enemy combatant status. He eventually stood trial in Miami, was convicted on terrorism charges, and sentenced to 17 years in prison. Shukrijumah is a Saudi Arabian and an alleged Al-Qaeda member whose last known address was in Miramar. The FBI is offering up to $5 million for information leading directly to his capture.
"I know JosÃ© Padilla, but I don`t know Adnan," Farahi told the agents.
Of course, Farahi knew of Shukrijumah. As imam of the Shamsuddin Islamic Center in North Miami Beach, Farahi was in a unique position to know about local Muslims, including Padilla and Shukrijumah. Padilla had prayed at Farahi`s mosque and was once among his Arabic students. Shukrijumah was the son of a local Islamic religious leader.
"I have had no contact with Padilla since 1998, when he left the country," Farahi told the government agents. He had once met Shukrijumah but had no contact with him after that. "I don`t know anything about his activities."
"We want you to work with us," Farahi remembers the agents telling him.
And this is when the imam`s five-year battle with the federal government began.