Jail time over cellphone sales changed lives

3 Comments 27 October 2011

By Hussein Mackie and Marouf Hamade
Unis Middle School

One minute, you’re going around selling cellphones to make money and the next you’re taking a mug shot, being accused of terrorism.

Believe it or not, they were born in this country. Two Arab-American men, Ali Houssaiky, and Osama Sahbi Abdulhassan, were being prosecuted as terrorists five years ago for something bizarre.

Osama Sahbi Abdulhassan and Ali Houssaiky

Osama Sahbi Abdulhassan and Ali Houssaiky, courtesy of islamtimes.org

In August of 2006, Houssaiky and Abdulhassan went around selling prepaid TracFones. They were arrested at a Radio Shack in Marietta, Ohio. The cashier at the Radio Shack called the police and asked for their IDs. “His name was Ali and his friends name was Osama.”, said Alexandria Moslimani-Houssaiky, Houssaiky’s girlfriend at the time. The officers came and arrested both men.

The police alerted officers to watch out for license plates from Michigan, Virginia and Florida because there were reports of Middle Eastern men purchasing many phones. According to www.msnbc.com the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned police worldwide about bulk purchases of prepaid TracFones, which can be used for terrorism.

Alexandria Moslimani-Houssaiky

Alexandria Moslimani-Houssaiky

Moslimani-Houssaiky didn’t know what was going on at the time. She called Houssaiky’s family to see what was happening. Not until the next day, the family of the accused told Moslimani-Houssaiky what was going on. When she first heard the news from the family she couldn’t believe that two kids born in America could be accused of this. “When I saw it on the news, that’s when it really hit me. I was just in shock, I’m in tears,” she said.

“They lived off peanut butter for a week,” Moslimani said. The men had to be removed from their jail cell to another because of racial terms yelled at them. They spent one week in the county jail. The bond was set at $200,000 each, and both families had to find a way to pay. “We had to gather money from the community because they decided to set bail so high,” Moslimani-Houssaiky said.

In court, they couldn’t find anything to hold them with, they didn’t have any evidence toward supporting terrorism. Houssaiky and Abdulhassan headed home after one week in jail.

“How can I be called a terrorist if I was born and raised in this country? It’s probably because I’m an Arab and look different than everyone,” said Ali Houssaiky. Houssaiky was questioning his future because of this scenario. With an accusation of this matter on his record, how could he ever get a job?

Five years later, Houssaiky graduated as a teacher. Through all of this, he managed to finish his education. The person that everybody called a terrorist now teaches at a school. Without a doubt in his mind, he saw everyone who treated him as a terrorist as a distraction and looked foward at his future. Today, his married to Moslimani-Houssaiky, who teaches eighth grade at Unis Middle School.

Arab-Americans have been discriminated against in many ways. This incident was just one example.

Your Comments

3 Comments so far

  1. Noor Khalil 1st hour says:

    I believe that Arabs shouldn’t be discriminated against. Just because we’re Arabs, it doesn’t mean you should go ahead and say we’re bad.

  2. April Kincaid says:

    Good story however, I would like some follow-up. Have the men struggled to find standard employment as Ali suspected or are they still entrepreneurs? Was the issue fully solved for them? How long before they were found not guilty?
    Can you please have these answers added to your story?

  3. Mona Hamade says:

    That was a good story. Good job Marouf and Hussein.

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Unis Middle School

Unis School serves grades K-8 in the Dearborn Public School District. The school principal is Heyam Alcodray. These are its beliefs about education:

  • A student's highest potential includes improvements academically, artistically, emotionally and socially.
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