Skip to comments.Bad timing blamed for group's detainment
Posted on 10/13/2005 3:41:16 PM PDT by MizSterious
Bad timing blamed for group's detainment
NORMAN - A University of Oklahoma instructor from Egypt said he and others of foreign descent were handcuffed at gunpoint and questioned after the OU bomb blast Oct. 1, but added he is not bitter.
"Not at all. I understand. They explained. But if they keep coming back -- that's something else," Hossam Barakat said. "Because I'm not guilty in any way."
Barakat, 37, blames unfortunate timing.
The roommate of the student killed by the explosion just happened to wander into an apartment where he and four or five others were visiting.
Also arrested was Pakistani student Fazal M. Cheema, the roommate of the student who apparently killed himself with a bomb, Joel "Joe" Henry Hinrichs III. Cheema took a polygraph test and later was released, The Oklahoman has learned.
The others do not wish to be identified or interviewed, Barakat said. He described them as either born abroad or Americans of Middle Eastern descent but said he does not believe they were targeted because of nationality or religion.
"It wasn't toward the Muslim community. It was just because of Cheema," Barakat said. "I can understand. He's the roommate."
The others came under suspicion because Cheema had stopped by an apartment where they were talking around midnight Oct. 1, Barakat said.
"Cheema always come to this apartment. That night, he just walk in," Barakat said.
In addition, one of the men in the apartment was a visiting professor from Algeria who had his suitcases packed and was ready to leave the country on an airplane the following day, Barakat said.
"I understand, absolutely, that something had happened and we needed to cooperate. If this had happened in any other country, they would have done it the same way."
Hinrichs, an engineering student, has tentatively been identified as the student who died Oct. 1 in an explosion on a campus bench about 100 yards from OU's packed football stadium. Investigators believe he blew himself up.
Investigators found identification on the body, but the state medical examiner is awaiting DNA test results for a positive identification.
Salvador Hernandez, special agent in charge of the FBI's Oklahoma City office, told a congressman Tuesday the investigation into the explosion is continuing, but so far it appears to be "an individual act."
Barakat, who lives in the same university apartment complex as Hinrichs, said that hours after the bomb blast, he went to another apartment in the complex to say goodbye to the Algerian friend who was scheduled to fly out of the United States the next day. Later, Cheema dropped in unexpectedly, staying only a few minutes.
When Cheema left, the commotion began.
Outside, guests heard yelling, Barakat said.
"We heard someone said, 'Put your hands up! Put your hands up!' And someone looked from the window and seen that Cheema got arrested," he said.
Because Cheema has a hearing impairment, he did not respond immediately to the police order to stop.
"That's why they got mad and started to yell and flashed in his eyes and got guns," Barakat said.
Barakat said he started to leave his friend's apartment to go home about 15 minutes later, but an officer pulled a gun and ordered him back inside.
"We knew that they are investigating this thing but I didn't know that we are under house arrest. That didn't come to our mind," Barakat said.
Hours passed as the group waited in the apartment.
"We are terrified. We were sitting waiting for them to come at any time," Barakat said.
About 4:05 a.m., police telephoned the apartment and told the group to come out the front door, one at a time, hands up, he said.
As they arrived outside, they were ordered to kneel and put their hands behind their heads so they could be handcuffed. Barakat said they were separated at that point and questioned individually.
"They asked if I knew Joel," Barakat said. "I said, 'No.' They kept asking over and over, 'Do you have bombs, guns or knives?'"
Barakat said he did not.
About 5:30 a.m. Sunday, all were released to go home except Cheema, who was put up in a motel overnight because FBI agents wanted him to take a polygraph the next day, Barakat said.
The apartment where they had been was among those evacuated so officers could remove explosive material from Hinrichs' home, so the group went to Barakat's apartment, which was outside the evacuation area. Exhausted, they fell asleep, some on the floor, he said.
An FBI agent called again about 8:45 a.m. Oct. 2, saying agents wanted to talk to them some more, Barakat said.
Later that morning, the agents arrived but instead of questioning them at Barakat's apartment as expected, they took them to an FBI office in Oklahoma City, where they spent the day watching football on television with an equal number of FBI agents.
The agents brought in chicken for lunch and pizza for dinner and joked with the men. But they also accompanied them to the rest room, Barakat said.
Eventually, an immigration officer arrived and questioned each person individually to make sure they were in the country legally, he said.
"He make a copy of everything I have in my wallet -- everything except the cash," he said.
Later, FBI agents separated the group again and asked more questions: Where have you been? What have you been doing? Do you know any radical person in the Islamic community? Did you ever see anyone taking anything out of Hinrichs' apartment in a garbage bag?
Barakat said he answered "no" to the last two questions.
About 10:30 p.m., an FBI agent finally told them it was all over and thanked them for their assistance. Barakat said the FBI agents were polite and professional throughout the investigation, but he also said Norman police were "very aggressive, very mean."
Whine alert, poor mistreated "students."
Really? I didn't pick up on any whining.
"The roommate of the student killed by the explosion just happened to wander into an apartment where he and four or five others were visiting."
As in: "Cheema was wandering aimlessly about, with no idea where he was going, no doubt because he was atheist ... ATHEIST I tell you. We do not know why he came here, but he is Pakistani, I think. And, it was NOT a "party." Most definitely not. Celebration was the furthest thing from our minds."
This guy needs to shut his mouth, if he wants to maintain any semblance of plausibility. Maybe he can be placed with Cheema, where ever that might be?
Ping to Islamic "students" while in Norman, OK. The "students" are upset that the cops copied their documents and asked them questions??
A suggestion - Let them retain their US visas....just mark the destination as Gitmo.
Ping to Islamic "students" whine in Norman, OK. The "students" are upset that the cops copied their documents and asked them questions??
A suggestion - Let them retain their US visas....just mark the destination as Gitmo.
Sorry for the double posting.
Did Cheema know there were explosives in the home? I am not convinced this was a run-of-the-mill suicide. I'm curious how many other regular suicides in this country have been by this method.
You didn't?? Are we even reading the same article? These guys was friends/roomies with somebody who had 400+ lbs. of explosives in the apartment and they are upset over being questioned.
"Did Cheema know there were explosives in the home?"
It's not an especially large apartment. And, even throught the haze of unconfirmed information and denials-after-the-fact, it remains "founded and true" that other explosives were found in that apartment.
It was a small apartment, according to people who've seen these apartments. They carted off hundreds of pounds of explosives, taking almost 24 hours to do so. It would seem very odd to me if a roommate wouldn't notice that he was stumbling over all these explosives.
No kidding--with all the explosives in that place, it's a wonder they had a place to sleep or hang their clothes!
No, I didn't pick up that they were upset at all. I read a report they gave. In fact, they were very complimentary of how it was handled overall. I'm thinking the folks pinged to this thread are looking through some kind of weird computer screen of preconception instead of reading the article.
"No kidding--with all the explosives in that place, it's a wonder they had a place to sleep or hang their clothes!"
There's also quite a distinct odor, when "cooking" either TATP or ANFO. Stinks as bad as a meth lab, in my understanding. Cheema knew. No way around it.
Or pork ribs. They're good Muslims, remember.
"What caused the hearing impairment? Explosives???"
A link on the distinct odor or "funny smell" of TATP, known as "Mother Of Satan" in certain circles:
Ping, latest report.
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