Prison Guard Threatens Dr. Al-Arian's Life (4/13)
Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace
April 13, 2007
Prison Guard Threatens Dr. Al-Arian's Life
TAMPA— For nearly three days this week, the whereabouts of Dr. Sami
Al-Arian were unknown. He was last seen by family members last
Sunday at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, NC, where he was
steadily recovering from the effects of a 60-day hunger strike in
which he lost 55 pounds, more than 25 percent of his bodyweight.
Dr. Al-Arian embarked on the hunger strike to protest the Justice
Department's violation of a plea agreement that would have seen him
released today, Friday April 13, 2007. Instead, he spent the days
leading up to his original release date in a harrowing ordeal that
saw him transferred from Butner to the Alexandria Detention Center in
northern Virginia. During the course of the trip, Dr. Al-Arian spent
nearly two days at a temporary facility in Petersburg, Virginia,
where he was subjected to some of the worst verbal and physical
abuses by prison officials in the course of his four-year
Dr. Al-Arian arrived in Petersburg on Tuesday April 10 at 5 PM. Upon
his arrival, Dr. Al-Arian's undergarments were confiscated and he was
instead given old, worn out undergarments with holes in them. He was
placed in a tiny, freezing cold cell with pools of water on the
ground. Though the vent released extremely cold air, he was given no
additional blankets or extra clothing and no cleaning supplies to
clean the dirty cell. Since there were no windows in the cell, he
could not tell the time of day or the direction to perform his Muslim
Moreover, the guards at the federal facility in Petersburg illegally
seized Dr. Al-Arian's legal documents and then proceeded
to "misplace" them. They have yet to be found or returned.
Following a 30-hour stay in the deplorable cell, Dr. Al-Arian was
taken to be transported to northern Virginia at 4:30 AM on Thursday,
during which time he was subjected to the most abusive conduct on the
part of at least two officials with the Bureau of Prisons.
A Correctional Officer who was strip-searching Dr. Al-Arian asked
him "Where are you from? Afghanistan?" Dr. Al-Arian refused to answer
the question. The guard repeated the question several times, before
"It doesn't matter where you're from. If I had my way, you wouldn't
be in prison. I'd put a bullet in your head and get it done with.
You're nothing but a piece of s***."
Dr. Al-Arian responded: "Why do you say that? You don't know me." The
"I know enough about all you guys. You're all pieces of s***. You can
go pray to the f*** that you pray to."
He then unleashed a stream of obscenities at Dr. Al-Arian, repeatedly
telling him to "Shut the f*** up." Dr. Al-Arian then told him, "If
you were brave enough, you would tell me what your name so I can
The guard then walked away hurling more obscenities. The guard who
engaged in this verbal abuse refused to give Dr. Al-Arian his name.
He is white, over-weight, 6 foot 2 inches tall with green eyes, a
goatee and is balding.
This is not the first time the guard in question has harassed Dr. Al-
Arian. In January, when Dr. Al-Arian was in Petersburg when being
transferred to Butner, the same guard told him: "You're a terrorist.
I can tell by your name."
The lieutenant in charge heard the exchange, took Dr. Al-Arian to the
side and proceeded to squeeze his right arm and right leg with
handcuffs and leg irons. Because of this, Dr. Al-Arian was completely
numb for the duration of the four-hour trip to Alexandria. The
lieutenant, who is white, about 6 foot tall, with green eyes, also
repeatedly told Dr. Al-Arian to "Shut the f*** up" and tightened his
shackles 7 times, increasing the pain each time.
Both the guard and lieutenant transferred Dr. Al-Arian to Alexandria.
When Dr. Al-Arian disembarked from the van that transported him, the
lieutenant repeatedly pulled the chain around Dr. Al-Arian's waist in
an attempt to trip him and cause him to fall. He also shoved him
against a wall when they arrived at the U.S. Marshals office in
Dr. Al-Arian has since been at the Alexandria Detention Center. He
can receive letters at the following address:
Dr. Sami Al-Arian
Alexandria Detention Center
2001 Mill Road
Alexandria, VA 22314
The Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace strongly condemns the
deplorable treatment Dr. Al-Arian received at the hands of the racist
prison officials. What's worse, this injustice occurred at a time
when he should have been recovering from his hunger strike, not being
moved and abused across states.
TBCJP demands an immediate investigation into these incidents, which
disturbingly reveal a pattern of institutionalized racism in the
prison system, as evidenced by the guard's supervisor, who not only
sanctioned the reprehensible behavior but engaged in it as well.
ACTON: All conscientious Americans are called upon to act to stop the
abuses against Dr. Al-Arian. We request that you write letters to the
1. Honorable Judge Gerald Lee
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
401 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA 22314
2. U.S .Bureau of Prisons
320 First St., NW
Washington, DC 20534
3. Warden Vanessa P. Adams
FCI PETERSBURG MEDIUM
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 90042
PETERSBURG, VA 23804
4. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Fax Number: (202) 307-6777
5. Rep. John Conyers
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-0072 Fax