Many Muslims feared they would be targeted by authorities following the 9/11 attacks, and it happened in Bridgeport, Connecticut. A Jordanian man named Eyad Mastafa Al-Rababah was living there when he recognized pictures of the alleged hijackers in the news. He went to the local FBI office.
“He was very deeply alarmed because he realized he had met some of the people who had been accused of being the hijackers at his mosque,” said Anjana Malhotra, who interviewed Al-Rababah about what happened next.
Malhotra is an attorney and the lead author of a Human Rights Watch report that investigated government detentions post-9/11. She spoke to dozens of detainees like Al-Rababah.
“Instead of being treated as someone who was willingly to help identifying who did this, how it happened, [Al-Rababah] was immediately treated as a suspect,” she said.
Al-Rababah was arrested and first held in Connecticut, according to Molhatra.
“He was not allowed to see a lawyer. He was interrogated as a suspect. First by local officials and then by multiple officials from the Department of Justice,” she said.
State laws let authorities hold someone just a few days without charges, but federal law lets authorities hold material witnesses as long as necessary to “prevent a failure of justice.”
Al-Rababah was detained, but never charged or called to testify in any 9/11 criminal proceeding, Malhotra said.