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SEPTEMBER 11 NIGHTMARE ENDS FOR TWO ILLEGAL ISRAELI ALIENS
Ro'i Barak left for New York 16 months ago to earn some money.
Like many young Israelis, the 23-year-old from Upper Nazareth moved furniture to make a living. On September 11, Barak was in Ohio on a job. He and his partner, Moti Butboul, 26, from Rechasim, headed toward Chicago, from where they had planned to return to New York.
On the way the next day, however, they were stopped by a police officer in Pennsylvania for a routine inspection, and were eventually sent to jail. The two were released to Israel only last week, while five of their co-workers are still under arrest in the United States.
At the time they were stopped, the policeman held them for a few hours, after which another squad car arrived followed by four FBI agents. Barak, speaking from his parents' home, said he does not know what prompted the policeman to call the FBI - perhaps their foreign accent or the previous day's arrest of their five friends who worked for the same moving company in New York. He said the FBI may have been tracking their truck after their co-workers' arrests.
The U.S. immigration authorities quickly discovered that Barak's visa had expired and that Butboul was working without a permit. First they were taken to an immigration authorities vehicle and then to a jail in southern Pennsylvania. "When you're working illegally in the United States, especially moving long distances, you always have it in the back of your head that you might get arrested," said Barak, who arrived in Israel with Butboul on Friday. "The usual procedure is that you get arrested for a day or two, and then you're deported. We weren't worried."
They understood from the FBI agents that they were not under suspicion for involvement in the terror attacks.
The two Israelis were taken from one section of the district jail to another, but as illegal aliens before their hearing, they were not held with violent criminals.
"The prison was pretty full," said Barak. "A lot of illegal immigrants were arrested after the terror attack."
Two days later, they were moved into isolation. The FBI agents returned and began interrogating them, this time more firmly, concerning their possible involvement in the terror attacks, about their army service and about the possibility of their being spies.
After the interrogation, they were returned to isolation and following yet another set of questioning, it was clear they were not connected in any way to the terror attacks. At their request, they were taken out of isolation and moved to the illegal aliens' section.
The two do not know why they were kept in isolation, although it may have been in order to protect them from other prisoners, some of whom were Palestinians.
In the illegal alien section, they had almost total freedom and were not kept in locked cells.
Although it appeared the investigation was complete and the two Israelis would be deported immediately, they were kept in jail for over a month for reasons that are also unclear. The Israeli consulate told Barak and Butboul that the delay was due to the fact that information regarding illegal aliens was being sent to Washington for thorough examination.
Barak's parents, Moshe and Hava, said yesterday the delay was the result of Washington's demand that Israel provide authorization that it was willing to accept the two men as well as the fact that the FBI was in no rush to end the investigation. Barak claims that he and his friend were held longer than other illegal aliens.
The five Israelis arrested in New York after the September 11 attacks are still being held, although deportation orders have already been issued. According to U.S. law, authorities can hold detainees for 90 days after issuing such orders. It is expected the authorities will retain the five in custody until the end of the period, after which they will be released.
Sources : HAARETZ
Posté par Adriana Evangelizt