This is an op-ed by Daily News Editor & Chief SHK in response to the rumors that I enlisted in the United States Army, in fact, I did. But not without a twist. This op-ed is the telling of how I ended up on the United States Terror Watch List for no other reason than the fact “I looked suspicious” and was Muslim at the time of the encounter.
Roughly three months ago, I, set out on a new conquest to discover a new perspective on life. Little did I know, that, that perspective would be serving America in an unorthodox way that I never thought was possible: The Army. Beginning in Fort Lauderdale, weeks before I moved, I embarked on that very journey beginning my enlistment.
I remember in Fort Lauderdale, one of the desk boys, took me to do my fingerprints. Granted, I had never actually been finger printed before (at least not in that manner) I was a bit nervous. While rolling my fingers, he made the comment that I was a bit suspicious and was curious if something was wrong.
I aced the ASVAB; met the initial requirements, passed my finger print screens and moved on to the next round of military processes. In the midst of such, I ran into some family/friend problems and had to move to Atlanta and had to take care of a friend in Atlanta who was in need.
For weeks, and yes I mean weeks, I had no idea why my army enlistment was delayed. No proper reason; no reason why, no kind of notice, I sat dormant for weeks trying to enlist in the army.
But somewhere between Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta, someone, decided that “I was so suspicious” that I merited being placed on the terror watch list and flagged by the FBI. I would not find this out until much later, when, I spoke to the final recruiter who never actually told me of the situation — until — I learned that FBI agents were banging on my door in Atlanta not realizing I don’t actually live there.
I remember getting phone calls from my vacation suite in Atlanta, telling me, that an FBI agent had come to what they thought had been my permanent residence demanding to speak to me. Although, they had missed me because I had already moved on.
The army refuses to disclose any information regarding my placement on the watch list, how and exactly who, placed me on the list. At this time, it feels, like I have been targeted because I happen to Muslim; a prominent Muslim, and very open about it. I am not a suspicious looking person, actually, rather geeky and innocent. But hey, I suppose, that merits landing under suspicion of being an enemy of the state to America — right?
When the FBI agent finally chase me down over the phone, I, refused to meet with him in person. My people shielded me from the public out of fear that I had been targeted, and, they were going to try and arrest me. It took me a week and some days, to get Mike to confess to the reason as to why they were lurking in the shadows.
“Someone reported you to us as a suspected terrorist” he said. Granted, I’ve never done anything of the kind nor said anything to indicate I would. I finally got this piece of information after swiftly denying to meet Mike in person, a feat, that went on for a while.
“This will never go away until you meet me in person” he told me numerous times during the sudden out of the ordinary phone chats. By the time he had called me for the fourth time, he, had already found my addresses; my work phone number, my personal information, and I’m assuming the addresses to my family. Because, my father, had already told me during this time that he had noticed what he had thought were FBI SUV’s outside of his home.
Mike’s response? “I’m the FBI. We have access to that information”.
Because of the racial profiling at the hands of the military, I, am now on the existence of a top-secret classified military x FBI report that I will never be able to see. For reasons, that are just about as known as to why Miley Cyrus still has a career. For reasons, that are only related to the fact that I have strong ethnic looks and by all accord am Muslim.
I have since suspended my enlistment attempt out of suspicion that the American government is watching my every move. The army, along with the FBI, waited weeks to tell me that I had been flagged on the terror watch list. No notice; no call, nothing. Out of the blue, I get a phone call from a federal agent named Mike — who — demanded that I meet him to discuss this particular situation. But, it alone, took him over a week to actually tell me why I’m getting a phone call from a federal agent in the middle of the day for essentially reasons that were unknown to me at the time.