Iraqi woman says treatment by Customs officials 'shocking' by Mitch E. Perry

04/14/06

The Iraq born woman who was stripped search at the Pinellas County Jail earlier this week calls her detention for 48 hours not too different than what occurred at Abu Ghraib.

45 year old Safana Jawad spoke today on WMNF’s True Talk program from London, en route to her home in Spain….She arrived in England, early this morning after being released from detention last night and then deported – 2 days after she arrived to visit her son , but never had the opportunity after being arrested and detained for no apparent reason. "Well I nver thought it was goign to happen to me in the United States, the counrty of the free, where human rights are respected etc. etc. I know what ... all the people in America will do it."

Jawana’s trip to Tampa was arranged by her ex-husband, Ahmad Maki Kubba, to spend time with her 16 year old son who lives in Clearwater. But Jawad, who is of the Muslim faith and was wearing a head scarf when she was interrogated at Tampa International Airport, never saw either family member because of reasons that are still not clear at this time.

Instead of meeting up with her family, Jawad was met by customs officials at TIA on Tuesday, and began answering what she thought were basic questions asked of non-citizens coming from overseas, as she explained to True Talk Host and the Director of the Tampa Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Ahmed Bedier " He asked me to wait outside for a little while more and while I was waiting time passed and passed. Then a policewoman asked me to come with her into another room where she started to search me. She asked me face the wall open my legs wide and lift my arms and open them wide and she started to search every part of my body. I asked her why and she said sorry but thats part of the procedure. Thats all. I had to obey. I mean if I didn't obey I don't know what they would have done. They she had me open my handbag"

Jawad said she wore ‘normal’ clothes on the airplane, which included a headscarf, or ‘hijab’ – which appears to be what tipped her off to security officials that she was Muslim. "But I was the only one with a scarf and I was noticed maybe because of that."

Ahmed Bedier "And yet because you said you're of Arab or Iraqi decent"

Jawad "Yeah being born in Baghdad that maybe effected the people there. I mean I couldn't understand I only could find this reason. There is no other. I couldn't find another. There is no other. I couldn't find any other. I thought they had hard feelings toward Arabs or maybe just being a Muslim I am a suspect. Or anything like that"

Safana Jawad’s ex-husband is Baghdad native Ahmad Maki Kubba, who says he was once arrested and tortured by Saddam Hussein’s henchmen for 40 days.. Kubba’s face should be no stranger to bay area citizens – he was interviewed extensively by local television reporters after the U.S. invaded Iraq and removed Saddam from power nearly 3 years ago. Kubba has been unstinting in his praise of the U.S. for removing Saddam, and he was recognized by Governor Jeb Bush during his State of the State address last year as a symbol of progress in the war-torn country. "This is a ... here. They way they dealt with her especially, she's an innocent. There's no charge against her. And they admitted there's no chage against her, but they dealt with her as a criminal and they humiliated her. So this is wrong. We are sending the wrong message. We are sending the wrong message to the Iraqi people. We are telling the Iraqi people 'That's how we deal with your citizens. It is wrong. They are sending the wrong message to the Spanish people and the Ethopian people. 'That's how we deal with your citizens. It is wrong."

And Kubba said that what officials from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement did is simply not police work, while there could be terrorists trying to hurt the US. "These people and this airport this international airport are hurting this country. They are buring America. They are creating hate which we don't need because of this stupidity in they way they act. This is not a smart way. This is not an intelligent way to investigate" somebody

Jawad was strip searched by 2 female offers at the Pinellas County Jail…A spokesman for the jail, Jim Bordner, said she declined to borrow a scarf from a chaplain after her head scarf was taken because it had metal barrettes…but she denies that "They lie. They offered me nothing. I asked them to keep my scarf and they said I couldn't because I might harm myself with it."…WMNF contacted a media contact from the US Customs and Border Protection, Zach Mann, late this afternoon. "In regards to this case U.S Customers and Borders' policy is not to discuss the specifics of any particular case or and individual admission or inadmissiblility to the United States. However I can say she was found inadmissible, she was detained and she was returned to the country from which she came."

Mitch Perry: "Might we, whether it's through your organization or through Homeland Security. Might there be any comments forthcoming regarding what happend here.

Zach Mann: "Well I can't speculate on what may or maynot be said in the future. It's just a policy that we don't discuss admissiblility or not of an individual. I mean its to protect the confidentuality of the situation under the Privacy Act. And its not uncommon for people to arrive in the United State and for some reason be found inadmissible. Whether its criminality in their background whether its a document issue, false documents, bad documents, outdated documents or the purpose of their visit doesn't meet the intended purposes as determined by the officers on the schene. There's a wide variety of reasons. One point I do want to make. You've said she was detained and deported. You have to be admitted to be deported. So she was not, technicially admitted to the Unted States. And everyone who arrives from foriegn is applying for admission whether it is a tourist, student a worker or an athlete. That's one thing we want to make clear, when you come to the United States you have to comply with our rules and regulations to come in and stay. And whether it's for a tourist purpose or to work or be an athlete or whatever the reason of your visit is you have to comply with our regulations to stay here and If you don't comply you're not admitted."

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