Summary-- this Algerian guy who was trying to leave the US and get political asylum in Canada just before 9/11 was locked up by the US for almost FIVE YEARS, even after he was completely and totally cleared of any suspicion of terrorist activity. Even AFTER a judge tossed out the case against him, he was held for two more years. This kind of thing is why I'm a card-carrying member of the ACLU. If you don't want this to happen to more people, think about joining the ACLU yourself.
9/11 Detainee Released After Nearly Five Years
By TOM HAYS, AP
TORONTO (Aug. 13) - The date was Sept. 12, 2001, but Benemar "Ben" Benatta was clueless about the death and destruction one day earlier.
About a week before, Canadian officials had stopped Benatta as he entered the country from Buffalo to seek political asylum. On that Sept. 11, he was quietly transferred to a U.S. immigration lockup where a day passed before sullen FBI agents told him what the rest of the world already knew: terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
It slowly dawned on Benatta that his pedigree - a Muslim man with a military background - made him a target in the frenzied national dragnet that soon followed. The FBI didn't accuse him of being a terrorist, at least not outright. But agents kept asking if he could fly an airplane.
He told them he couldn't. It made no difference.
"They gave me a feeling that I was Suspect No. 1," he said in a recent interview.
The veiled accusations and vehement denials would continue for nearly five years - despite official findings in 2001 that he had no terrorist links and in 2003 that authorities had violated his rights by colluding to keep him in custody.
Of the estimated 1,200 mostly Arab and Muslim men detained nationwide as potential suspects or witnesses in the Sept. 11 investigation, Benatta would earn a dubious distinction: Human rights groups say the former Algerian air force lieutenant was locked up the longest.
His Kafkaesque journey through the American justice system concluded July 20 when a deal was finalized for his return to Canada. In the words of his lawyer, the idea was to "turn back the clock" to when he first crossed the border.
But time did not stand still for Benatta: The clock ran for 1,780 days. The man detained at 27 was now 32.
"I say to myself from time to time, maybe what happened ... it was some kind of dream," he said. "I never believed things like that could happen in the United States."
In a nation reeling from unthinkable horrors inflicted by an unconventional enemy, it could. And did.
Sporting a gray T-shirt and cargo shorts on a sizzling summer day, Benatta eased his muscular frame into a white plastic chair in the backyard of a Toronto halfway house for immigrant asylum-seekers. He sipped lemonade, then paused to taste freedom.