A Muslim man is seeking answers from federal law enforcement agencies about what he describes as their harassment of him and his family since his return to Oklahoma from the Middle East.
Saadiq Long, a U.S. Air Force veteran and McAlester native, said Thursday he and his sister have been followed by the FBI and have had several unexpected and unwanted encounters with agents of the federal agency since he arrived in Oklahoma from Qatar on Nov. 19.
Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the Muslim civil rights group sent a letter Thursday to the federal Justice Department asking the government agency to investigate the recent treatment of Long and his family.
The letter, written by Gadeir Abbas, an attorney for the civil rights group, requested that the justice department “investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the dangerous and illegal cowboy antics” of the FBI's field office in Oklahoma City.
Rick Rains, spokesman for the FBI in Oklahoma City, gave a brief statement Thursday.
“The FBI does not confirm or deny ongoing investigations. The FBI has a responsibility to protect American citizens. In carrying out these responsibilities, the FBI does not violate the civil rights of citizens or in any way harass citizens or other individuals,” Rains said.
Soltani, Long and Long's sister Ava Anderson, of Oklahoma City, spoke at a news conference held by CAIR's Oklahoma chapter Thursday at its office at 1112 NW 23.
Anderson talked about being closely followed while driving her brother around McAlester, where he is visiting his mother, who has congestive heart failure. Anderson said the family wanted to have a peaceful time with Long home from the Middle East, where he resides and teaches English.
Instead, she said FBI agents came to their mother's home, and the family also noticed they were being followed on more than one occasion.
The day after Thanksgiving, Anderson said, she and her brother were followed as they attempted to leave McAlester for Oklahoma City. She said she became concerned and drove to the McAlester Police Department, where she was greeted by numerous police who drew guns on her and her brother and also placed them in handcuffs.
Anderson said she was told by a McAlester police official that this treatment was because the FBI had called the police department and asked for help in apprehending someone.
Darrell Miller, McAlester assistant chief of police, said Thursday McAlester officers stopped Anderson and Long in the police department alley because FBI representatives had called and said they needed assistance apprehending someone.
“Once we had them stopped, they were turned over to the FBI,” Miller said.
Anderson said an FBI agent approached her and told her in a sarcastic manner that he had been trying to get her to pull over so he could apologize for the inconvenience. Anderson said she asked the agent for his business card and he refused to give her one. She said she hopes an inquiry by the justice department will provide answers about why her brother and his extended family have been treated the way they have been.
“My brother deserves the right to know,” she said. “It's sad that in today's time, we're still using fear as a tactic. My concern is that my civil liberties have been trampled on, and there's nobody accountable.”
Meanwhile, Long said he was interrogated at length by federal agents at stops in Amsterdam and in Detroit on his way to Oklahoma in November. He said he cannot pinpoint anyone in his life that would cause concern for the government.
The Air Force veteran said he is concerned about the safety of his family in America as well as his wife, who is a U.S. citizen, and his family living in Qatar.
Soltani said the Council on American-Islamic Relations will continue to monitor Long's case, and litigation may result.