Just last week, Sam Malkandi's attorneys were demanding that the Kurdish Iraqi immigrant-- suspected of ties with al-Qaeda but believed by supporters to be unjustly accused--be released given what seemed to be his indefinite detention. The onetime Kirkland resident and U.S. military contractor had been held for four-and-a-half years.
Malkandi, who said he loved America, is now in Kurdistan.
But the government promised a federal court that it intended to deport him soon. Today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that it has finally done so.
ICE did not say where exactly it had taken Malkandi. But his 22-year-old daughter Nicole, a student at the University of Washington, says that her dad called this morning from Kurdistan. With only a couple minutes to talk, "he just said that he was really tired," relates Nicole.
It was the first time the family had heard from Malkandi since early Monday morning.Around midnight on that day, another detainee at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma called the family's home to say that Malkandi had been taken away. His attorney Shaakirrah Sanders later got a collect call from Malkandi, who appeared to be at a Texas prison, although she couldn't be sure since she was unable to accept the call on her cell phone.
"They didn't tell us where he was," Nicole says of federal authorities. There was reason to believe he may not have been transported all the way to Iraq. Twice before, he had been woken up in the middle of the night, told he was being deported, and taken to an airport-- only to be returned later to the facility. The most recent time, last week, he even sat on a plane for several hours, according to his family and attorney Sanders.
Sanders says she believes that Iraq may have been refusing to take back Malkandi, who as a Mormon and a Kurd is both a religious and ethnic minority member. ICE spokesperson Lorie Dankers has said she can't comment on the matter.
Malkandi came under suspicion after federal authorities learned that he had helped obtain a medical appointment for Tawfiq bin Attash, known as "Khallad," a lieutenant of Osama bin Laden. But Malkandi claimed that he was merely doing a favor for a friend of a friend and had no idea that the appointment was for an al-Qaeda operative.