Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Detroit Relatives: The Box Cutters, Pepto Bismol, $7000 cash, The Sudden Flight Change – it’s All a Misunderstanding

From Weasel Zippers:

Why, he travels with items taped together all the time! It’s our culture!
One of al Soofi’s cousins, who did not give his name, told WXYZ that Soofi had recently moved from Monroe, Mich., to Alabama.
“He’s a great guy,” the man said at his Southwest Detroit home, adding that it wasn’t unusual for al Soofi to tape things together when he travels. “It’s a misunderstanding. He doesn’t know how to speak English, type in a computer or use e-mails or whatever.”
“Our blood’s mixed with this country, and we never, ever thought to do something bad to this country,” the man told WXYZ.
Another cousin, Omar Sufi, also told the New York Times that it was usual for al Soofi to travel with items taped together.
The New York Times, August 30: Omar Sufi of Detroit, who said he was a cousin of the passenger who boarded in Alabama, said his relative’s actions did not sound unusual. He said that his cousin had most likely been trying to take medication and phones back to his family, and that it was common to bind together items meant for the same recipient. “This is our culture,” he said. He described his cousin as “a nice guy” who worked as a cashier in Alabama and spoke little English.
Real funny.
His brother, Murad al Soofi, said the charges were so ludicrous that family members “were laughing about (the incident) when we heard it.”
“It’s ridiculous,” said Murad al Soofi, who owns a convenience store in Tuscaloosa, Ala., about an hour west of Birmingham. He said his brother moved to Michigan from Yemen in 1997 and has a wife and five children — three boys and two girls — in his homeland. He moved to Tuscaloosa earlier this year in search of work after losing jobs in Detroit and Monroe, his brother said.
Murad al Soofi said his brother was flying to Yemen to visit his family, but had no explanation for why he wanted to change his flight in Chicago.

Both of the detained men are friends who lived and worked in Dearborn, said Imad Hamad of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The al Soofi and al Murisi families are prominent within the Yemeni-American community in Dearborn, Hamad said. Both men worked at area restaurants and grocery stores, and it is typical to spend several months working in Michigan and travel home once or twice a year to visit relatives in Yemen. “When the news broke, people were surprised because they knew them as good people, respected people who always worked and worked hard,” Hamad said.
Al Soofi was believed to have recently lived at the Hidden Trail Apartments in Monroe. Neighbors said he hadn’t been at the complex for at least a year. They remember him as a quiet man who associated with other local laborers. They said he sometimes covered his windows with cardboard

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