U.S. agent suspended for graffiti

His writing during a raid attacked Islam
Detroit Free Press, August 10, 2002


The U.S. Secret Service agent who attracted national attention for scrawling “Islam is evil” inside the home of a Dearborn man during a federal raid has been suspended for six months without pay.

“Justice has been served,” said Jeffrey Collins, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, in announcing the punishment Friday. Collins said the agent showed “extremely poor judgment.”

As part of his punishment, the agentalso wrote a letter of apology to the family. And he will be transferred from the Detroit office. The agent, a 10-year veteran whose name was not released, won’t be charged with a crime, but will lose about $40,000 in wages.

The punishment, worked out between Collins’ office and the Secret Service, drew mixed reaction from metro Detroit’s Arab and Muslim communities, the largest concentration in the country. Some wanted the agent to be fired. But others said they are pleased that Collins moved swiftly to reprimand him.

On July 17, the agent was part of a federal team raiding the home of Omar Shishani, who is accused of having terrorism connections.

The agent’s job was to keep watch outside the home, Collins said. But when the raid was almost completed, he went inside and used a black marker to write “ISLAM IS EVIL” and “Christ is KING” on a prayer calendar from the Islamic Center of Detroit.

The agent’s graffiti upset many Muslims, some of whom said the incident illustrated how the government’s war on terrorism has become a war against Islam. President George W. Bush has repeatedly said that fighting terrorism does not mean fighting the Islamic faith.

After the defacing was publicized by Shishani’s family, a top Secret Service agent met with Collins and Arab-American leaders in Detroit.On Friday, Collins said the agent’s career, which was on a fast-track, is now derailed.

Collins said he met earlier this week with the agent, who wept during their talk.

“His remorse was genuine,” Collins said.

Legal experts said that the agent could have faced felony charges for tampering with evidence or for ethnic intimidation.

Collins said Friday, though, that the administrative punishment was proportional to his actions.

Shishani is being held on charges of possessing counterfeit securities and smuggling merchandise into the United States on a flight from Indonesia. He was arrested July 17 at Metro Airport after a customs inspector discovered nine bogus cashier’s checks totaling $12 million.

His attorney, Nabih Ayad, said Shishani is a legitimate businessman and that the agent’s action proves that the government arrested him because of his religious background.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday August 12, 2002.
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