Just like Resident Bush interchanges the arch-enemies Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, the former representing pan-Islamic fundamentalism and the latter pan-Arab secularism, the U.S. government’s campaign against terrorism relies on the slogan: “Any Arab will do.” In the government’s unending quest to track down the CIA’s former Al Qaeda assets, they’ve apparently gone to randomly picking up any Arab national who is a political activist. Federal authorities arrested Ahmed Benzouda on May 30 at his Urbana, Illinois apartment. Benzouda is a Moroccan citizen, just graduated from the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus, and was in the country on a student visa set to expire in August 2002. While at the campus, Benzouda, a secular anti-authoritarian, anti-Islamic activist, participated in the Israel divestment campaign and Palestinian solidarity events.

The government claims it plans to introduce “secret evidence” against Benzouda which neither he nor his attorney are aware of. “I think it is incredibly unfair,” said Ranna Ahmed, a friend of Benzouda and spokesperson for the Friends of Ahmed Committee. “He operated on principles of justice for everyone. He’s a humanitarian – I don’t see how this is justified.”

Campus peace activists are charging that the government used excessive force against Benzouda and is targeting him because of his political activities, since he doesn’t fit the profile of an Islamic fundamentalist. Technically his graduation last month means that he is no longer a student, but his supporters say it doesn’t justify his jailing.

“If I were studying in another country and violated my visa, I’d be horrified if the government threw me in jail, interrogated me about my political activities, shackled my hands and ankles, and treated me like a violent criminal. Maybe a paranoid dictatorship would do something like that, but not the United States of America,” said local union organizer Peter Miller.

Michael Feltes, another activist attacked the government’s use of “secret evidence” as unconstitutional: “The Sixth Amendment guarantees that any defendant is ‘to be confronted with the witnesses against him’ in all criminal prosecutions. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, our government is running roughshod over the rights guaranteed to all people . . .”

For more information contact Ranna Ahmed at and check out the website: