Muslim Woman Arrested Sept. 11 Found Guilty Of Menacing
August 29, 2002 at 4:53 PM EST - Updated July 12 at 6:40 AM
ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (AP) - A Muslim woman has been convicted of threatening sheriff's deputies during a confrontation in eastern Ohio hours after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
A judge on Wednesday sentenced Jamilah Ali, 38, of Baltimore, Md., to the eight days she served in jail last September and suspended the rest of a 180-day sentence after convicting her of aggravated menacing.
During her trial, Ali called the officers "bullish and aggressive" and said she feared for her life.
The deputies testified they felt threatened, too, especially when Ali screamed that she was a "warrior for Allah, and at war with the U.S."
The national office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations scheduled a news conference in Columbus Thursday afternoon to announce plans to assist Ali in appealing the conviction.
Ali, her 14-year-old son, both American citizens, and her uncle Yusuf Alim were returning to Baltimore from visits in Detroit and Chicago the night of Sept. 11.
All three were dressed in traditional Middle Eastern clothing that attracted attention at a crowded service station. Several patrons became concerned and called the sheriff's office.
Ali and Alim became disorderly when they were stopped for questioning, according to the deputies' report. Ali's son was placed in juvenile detention while she and her uncle were held in jail for eight days.
In October, Judge Harry White of the Western Division of the Belmont County Court ruled the deputies had no probable cause to stop the vehicle in response to frantic 911 calls that persons wearing "Arabian garb" had been spotted at a nearby gas station.
Ali would not comment Wednesday as she left the courthouse, clutching a copy of the Quran. She returned to Cleveland with two supporters before boarding a train to Washington, D.C.
In December, White had dismissed a misdemeanor charge of falsification against Alim, and he previously dismissed a charge of resisting arrest against Ali.
"This is a travesty of justice," Jad Humeidan, executive director of the Ohio office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Wednesday. "Her civil rights were trampled from the time that car was stopped until she was sentenced."
Public defender Christopher Berhalter expressed disbelief that a slight, unarmed woman in handcuffs could say anything that could lead deputies to fear they were facing serious physical danger.
But Assistant Prosecutor Helen Yonak, said in her closing argument that the deputies "could rightfully assume we are under siege and at war with someone."
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)