News Clips— Grocery confiscated

WHEN THE WAR on terrorism came to his door, Abdi Nur, 33, was shaken to learn he'd become George Bush's collateral damage.

The assault by his own country—that would be America—left the Columbia City grocer with an empty space this week where his store has been for the past seven years. Federal agents had trucked away his bread, milk, meat, and livelihood as part of U.S. raids on businesses linked to terrorists.

Nur's business wasn't—but a wire transfer company in the same building allegedly was. Agents figured it was all one business under the same roof (there were three). They loaded the contents of the building into their truck and drove away.

In their fight against terrorism, they took Nur's toilet paper, too.

"They know they make a mistake," says the Somali-born Nur, a U.S. citizen for 13 years. "But it was too late. They already had my stuff on the truck."

At a D.C. press conference last week, Bush said the raided money transfer businesses were tentacles of the Osama bin Laden terrorist network. He didn't mention the big grocery haul. But it was his sweeping executive order that was used to confiscate Nur's inventory, worth thousands.

"They didn't care I was not the one they were looking for," says Nur, standing outside his vacant space, a minimart and meat market to which Somalis drove from miles away to get kosher meat. "They had a paper to take the whole building."

Officials haven't offered any proof to justify the U.S. raids, and no one has been charged with a crime.

No matter. This is war. The government takes who and what it wants and whispers its accusations to reporters. It taps phones with secret orders, plans to give truth serum to those who won't confess, and won't reveal who it is holding in jails and why. It is even weighing the benefits of torturing uncharged prisoners.

You know, like they do in Kabul?

Nur says agents wouldn't tell him what he should do next. He called an information number in D.C. Someone said they'd get back to him.

"Why did they not just seal my door?" he says. "That's how they do it on TV."

Nur's market "was kind of like a little Safeway for the community," says Mahdy Maawell, who runs a travel service next door. He has two American flags on his desk.

"People come here because he is a good person," Maawell says, frustrated he has to defend a friend's reputation.

Nur, married with three kids, fiddled with a cell phone, wondering when the government would call about its mistake. "They said they would let me know," he says.

He understands we're at war, he adds. He's just not sure with whom.

Rick Anderson

randerson@seattleweekly.com

 
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