Man accuses Detroit police of profiling

| 4/24/2003

One of two men the FBI questioned for allegedly videotaping an international bridge and having explosives, shotgun shells and a police baton in their car says police targeted him because of his ethnicity, The Associated Press reported.

Mohamed Elmathil, 26, and another man were arrested late April 20 near the Ambassador Bridge, the busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing.

Police now say the men were pulled over because Elmathil’s car had tinted rear windows. He received a ticket for the infraction.

Elmathil said three FBI agents interrogated him for three hours, asking him whether he trained with al-Qaida or had been to Afghanistan. Elmathil, a native of Yemen, said he had lived in the United States since 1981 and, as reported by AP, said, “Of course, I was profiled.”

The men were not charged with a crime, but police said the case was still under investigation. Meanwhile, Detroit Police Cmdr. Jesse Banks said officers did not profile the men and acted because they observed “suspicious activity.”

Later, police said what was originally described as dynamite actually was two M80 firecrackers. Elmathil said they were left over from last July. He said the shotgun ammunition probably belonged to a friend who had borrowed his car. He said he carried the baton for protection but had never used it.