Georgia Tech Student Detained

A Pakistani American student at Georgia Tech has been arrested for providing material support for terrorism.

Here is the news of the arrest of a Pakistani American student at Georgia Tech.

A 21-year-old Georgia Tech student taken into federal custody last month has been charged with giving “material support” to a terrorist organization, according to his attorney Jack Martin.

The student, Syed Haris Ahmed, a mechanical engineering major who had become increasingly religious in his Islamic faith, was arrested by the FBI March 23 and has been held since then.

[…] Ahmed was taken into custody, his family said, apparently because authorities suspect a videotape he made of a building may have been related to terrorism.

Ahmed’s family immigrated from Pakistan in 1997, are now U.S. citizens and live in Dawsonville.

There are indications that Ahmed is connected to a 19-year-old Roswell man who was arrested Monday in Bangladesh. Ehsanul Islam Sadequee was arrested by Bengali authorities after at least eight months of federal investigation into him and his family, his sister, Sharmin Sadequee, said Thursday. Federal authorities would not confirm the arrest.

[…] Both families deny that their sons have any terrorist ties.

[…] The family of Syed Ahmed said agents confiscated computer hard drives and data CDs from their home.

Ahmed told his family that authorities found a video on the Internet and apparently traced it to him. “He said, ‘I made a video but didn’t distribute it to anyone,’ ” said Samia Ahmed, Syed’s sister. The video was of a building. Ahmed’s family members said they did not know the location of the building or when the tape was made.

Here is some information about the indictment against Syed Haris Ahmed.

Two Atlanta-area men in federal custody as part of a terrorism probe discussed possible locations for a U.S. attack, including military bases and oil refineries, according court documents unsealed Friday.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta on Thursday unsealed an indictment against Georgia Tech student Syed Ahmed, 21.

Ahmed was arrested last month in Atlanta and pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of material support for terrorism.

[…] An affidavit from FBI agent Michael Scherck says the duo traveled in March 2005 from Atlanta to Canada, where they met with three men who are the subject of an FBI international terrorism investigation.

Ahmed “explained that, during some of these meetings, he, Sadequee and the others discussed strategic locations in the United States suitable for a terrorist strike, to include oil refineries and military bases,” the affidavit says.

“They also plotted how to disable the global positioning system in an effort to disrupt military and commercial communications and traffic.”

The affidavit alleges the “assembled group developed a plan to receive military training at one of the several terrorist-sponsored training camps.” It also says Ahmed traveled to Pakistan in an attempt to get such training.

[…] At a news conference Thursday in Atlanta, U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said Ahmed was charged with providing material support for terrorism, not planning or carrying out terrorist acts.

FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said “no imminent threat” existed at any point during the investigation.

Court documents reveal the investigation included court-authorized wiretapping, recounting a conversation between Ahmed and Sadequee’s sister.

The FBI affidavit also says agents found two CD-ROMs in the lining of Sadequee’s suitcase when he was leaving the United States. One disc contained pornography and the other was encrypted with a code the FBI was unable to crack, according to the affidavit.

It also says Sadequee had maps of the Washington area with the discs.

I don’t know anything beyond what I read in the news reports, but since it is of local importance, I thought I better blog about it.

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Cinderella Man

Cinderella Man is about the boxer James Braddock and his comeback in the 1930s. It is an ok movie. I rate it 6/10.

I watched Cinderella Man on the plane on the way back from Pakistan.

Cinderella Man is about the boxer James Braddock in the 1930s and how he came back to win the heavyweight title. It is basically a boxing story from the depression era.

I found the movie okay. I might not have rented it myself but it was one of the better movies on the plane ride. Overall, I rate it 6/10.

25 Items Meme

Another one of those memes with lots of questions. I got it from Wayfarer.

Wayfarer asked me to do this 25 questions meme.

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn on page 18 and find line 4.

“often desired that processed images remain the same size as the originals. Support”

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can.

External hard drive, work desktop, Treo charger and hotsync cable, SD memory reader, backpack, the book “Liberty or Death” and a printout of the dissertation “The beginnings of Islam in Syria during the Umayyad period”.

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?

“Barney and Friends” with Michelle. I watch more children’s programs than anything else nowadays.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is?


5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?

3:03pm. Weird, I am rarely this accurate.

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?

Cars outside on the street and other people typing on their computers.

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?

Went to a Pedodontist to get Michelle’s teeth looked at.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?

UPS shipment tracking to check if my GPS had been delivered. It was.

9. What are you wearing?

Jeans and T-shirt.

10. Did you dream last night?

Nothing. I rarely dream. Or at least I rarely remember them.

11. When did you last laugh?

In the morning over Michelle’s antics.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?

I can’t see much of the walls. Only my cubicle wall. I have a few photos of Michelle and us there.

13. Seen anything weird lately?

Does some people going ga-ga over a vegetable garden count? Do some of the comments here count? Or the fact that Michelle went to the dentist and came back happily? Actually, I can’t remember anything really weird.

14. What do you think of this quiz?

I am doing this quiz, ain’t I?

15. What is the last film you saw?

We started watching Seven Samurai yesterday, but did not finish it since it was Michelle’s bed time.

16. If you became a multimillionaire overnight, what would you buy?

A house since if I don’t buy that Amber will not forgive me. Lots of gadgets. A Porsche Carerra GT.

17. Tell me something about you that I dunno.

I am sort of afraid of heights; can’t climb trees, or dive from anywhere high, etc. However, I wasn’t afraid at all to jump from a plane, i.e. skydive.

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?

Try to minimize poverty.

19. Do you like to dance?

With Michelle only. Otherwise no.

20. George Bush

I ignore him now.

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?

Already happened. She is called Michelle.

22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?

Nigel or Danial.

23. Would you ever consider living abroad?

Abroad? Like in away from where I was born? Been there, done that multiple times. Away from the US? Could do that as well.

24. What do you want GOD to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?

I would like God to give me proof of God’s existence.

25. 4 people who must also do this meme in their journal.

Whoever wants to do it, leave a comment or ping this post please.

Happy Easter

Happy Easter, everyone.

Happy Easter, everyone.

I have fond memories of easter eggs from my childhood.

Sin City

A very stylistic animated graphic movie. It was also very violent. I rate it 9/10.

Sin City is an amazing movie. It’s great, stylistic and graphic. If you like graphic novels, you’ll love the visuals here.

It was also explicitly violent. So we had to wait till Michelle was asleep before watching it.

I rate it 9/10.

Happy Passover

Hag Sameach, readers. Tonight starts Passover celebrating the Jewish Exodus from Egypt.

Hag Semeach (חג שמח), readers. Tonight starts the Jewish holiday of Pesach (פסח) or Passover, celebrating the freedom of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. And what’s better than a holiday celebrating freedom.

Can anyone tell me if I wrote the Hebrew correctly?

عید میلاد النبی

آج عید میلاد النبی ہے۔ اس مبارک دن پر کراچی میں بم دھماکے سے ستاون افراد ہلاک ہو گئے ہیں۔

میں نے سوچا تھا کہ آج بارہ ربیع الاول ہے تو آپ سب کو عید میلاد النبی کی مبارک دے دوں۔ آج کے دن 1480 سال پہلے حضرت محمد پیدا ہوئے تھے۔ مگر یہ خبر پڑھ کر مبارکباد کا کچھ دل نہیں کر رہا۔

منگل کو کراچی میں نشتر پارک میں عیدِ میلاد النبی کے اجتماع میں ہونے والے دھماکوں میں مرنے والوں کی تعداد ستاون ہو گئی ہے۔

پولیس کا کہنا ہے کہ دھماکہ خود کش حملہ آور نے کیا اور اس کو دو ایسی لاشیں ملی ہیں جن کے جسم کے نیچے والے حصے دھماکے سے آڑا چکے ہیں۔ پولیس کو خدشہ ہے کہ یہ دونوں لاشیں خود کش حملہ آور کی ہو سکتی ہیں۔

ہمارے نامہ نگار کے مطابق نشتر پارک کا اجتماع بہت بڑا تھا اور اس میں ہزاروں لوگ شریک تھے۔ روایتی طور پر شہر میں شروع ہونے والے عیدِ میلاد کے بہت سے جلوس نشتر پارک میں اختتام پذیر ہوتے ہیں۔

ماضی میں کراچی میں فرقہ وارانہ تشدد کے کئی واقعات ہوئے ہیں لیکن کئی عشروں میں یہ پہلا موقع ہے کہ عیدِ میلا النبی کے اجتماع کو اس طرح نشانہ بنایا گیا ہو۔

منگل کا دھماکہ سٹیج کے بہت قریب نمازِ مغرب کے وقت ہوا جب لوگ صفیں باندھ چکے تھے۔

انا للہ و انا الیہ راجعون۔

Where Are You From?

Everybody asks where I am from. Some are satisfied with my current location, others want to know where I am from originally. Some people also like to guess, usually wrongly. Some Pakistanis even want to know my ancestral village.

I started this post after reading the really funny post about this topic on Don’t shoot! two years ago. Somehow I never found the energy and the wit to finish it. Of course, the topic comes up regularly in cyberspace as well as in real life. SAFspace wrote about it last year and Wayfarer last month.

“Where are you from?” seems like a common question which I get asked quite a lot. And by everybody, whether they are Pakistani, Arab, European, Mexican, American, etc. My reply depends on who is asking, how (s)he is asking, my mood and the current moon phase. I have been known to reply Atlanta, Jersey (when I called it home), US, Pakistan, Islamabad, or a capsule history of all the places I have lived in my life. Amber, on the other hand, has to spoil it all by saying “Pakistan” always.

Some people are just making polite conversation and are satisfied with whatever you tell them. Others are insistent and ask where I am originally from if they are not satisfied with my first answer.

In Pakistan and among Pakistanis, I sometimes get a more lethal form of this question: Which village are your ancestors from? That becomes impossible to answer. My ancestors seem to have been global nomads like me. I don’t have any place I can call my ancestral village. Do I tell them where I live (Atlanta, GA) or was born (Wah Cantt, Pakistan) or where my parents live (Islamabad, Pakistan) or were born (Jammu, India and Cairo, Egypt)? Or where I have spent the most part of my life (divided into 3 continents, with the longest two stays in Wah Cantt, Pakistan and Atlanta, GA, USA)?

The interesting thing is that the people asking these questions want simple answers. They are not satisfied with the complex picture I can weave.

It is not just in the US where a lot of people assume that I am not from here. Even South Asians have sometimes assumed me to be a foreigner. Once we were in a Walmart in New Jersey when we overheard an old Indian couple discussing us. They were lamenting why such a good Indian girl (Amber, I guess) had married a foreigner. Then there was the time when I gave a lift in my car to another student of my university back in Pakistan. He spoke English to me throughout. I was surprised but continued the conversation in English. Later it turned out that he thought I was one of the few foreign students there. I think he said I looked Iraqi to him.

Here are some of the multitudes of ethnicities people have assigned me. Somebody in Maine told me on the phone that I sounded Irish (no way!) A few Californians detected speech patterns of the South in my accent (don’t think so.) Several Arabs, especially in my early days in the US, tried to speak to me in Arabic. A few people have also said that I look a bit Iranian. And then obviously quite a few people think I am from India.

The next person who asks me who I am will get the following reply: East African Plains Ape.

Million Dollar Baby

Million Dollar Baby is a boxing movie with a heart-wrenching twist near the end. I found the boxing parts somewhat boring but the later parts of the movie are good. I rate it 7/10.

I had heard good things about Million Dollar Baby, so I got it from Netflix. Otherwise I am not too much into boxing. As can be expected, I didn’t find the boxing part of the movie very interesting. However, the heart-wrenching last half hour of the movie was splendid.

I thought about what I would do in such a situation. As Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), I would probably have decided the same. But in a way, the task for Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) was much more difficult.

I would rate the movie 7/10 because of the first half of the movie.