The Air Force serviceman recently accused of spying at a terrorist prison camp once lived in an neighborhood of modest homes and satellite dishes in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn. The Detroit Free Press says that although he is charged with carrying out his crimes at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it is his old neighborhood that keenly feels the sting of the accusations against him.
Al-Halabi is the sixth man arrested on terrorism-related charges since 2001 to have connections to the working-class neighborhoods that straddle east Dearborn, the south end of Dearborn and southwest Detroit. Fderal agents have raided nine homes and businesses in the area during operations aimed at cutting off terrorist funding.
Several terrorism-related cases they all trace back to the same pocket of metro Detroit. “I feel uncomfortable telling people where I live,” said Abdo Bapacker, a U.S. citizen from east Dearborn who unknowingly rented an apartment to two of the men put on trial for terrorism charges. He resents the portrayal of his community as a haven for terrorists. “They say, ‘Oh, you’re from the terrorist community.’ ”
Federal agents say that the neighborhoods can provide good cover for would-be terrorists. “No matter what kind of criminal activity you’re in, you want to blend in with the community that you fit in with,” said Willie Hulon, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Detroit. “The people of the community are law-abiding citizens, and they want us to come in and ferret out the criminals. We have to be apolitical. All our investigations are based on activity and facts, not ethnicity.”