August 31, 2013
Khalid Shakfeh, a microbiology student at the University of South Florida, was questioned by officials with the Department of Defense (DoD) after he returned from a trip to Syria in which he helped transport and provide humanitarian materials, reported WTSP.
The 18-year old student is an American citizen born of Syrian immigrants. Shakfeh and his sister traveled with the Syrian American Council, a group that aims at supporting human rights, civil liberties and promotes a friendly relationship between Syria and the US.
During the March trip, Shakfeh said he provided basic medical supplies like gauze, Tylenol and Advil to Syrians who lacked access to basic necessities.
Upon his return, Shakfeh says he was contacted by the MacDill-based U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), a group that specializes in synchronize planning of global operations against terrorist networks.
“What did you? What were the people there facing? What do they need and things like that?” asked SOCOM officials.
Shakfeh told officials that he could provide them the “best” and “most clear” answers if they submitted their questions in writing. SOCOM failed to submit to his request.
A few days later officials sought after Shakfeh again, this time at his father’s medical practice. The American student stood his ground again telling the DoD officials that he would submit his answers if they provided him the questions in writing. The DoD declined and Shakfeh says he hasn’t heard from them since.
“The FBI and other government agencies actively targeting us just to harass… a means of harassment,” Shakfeh said.
Spokesperson for the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Hassan Shibly, said he’s seen patterns of the US government targeting people based on their background, color, and religion, questioning and harassing them without cause.
He calls the behavior by the DoD “un-American and unacceptable.”
The fact the US government has been targeting US Syrian immigrants for some time now, illustrates the US’s perception of the relationship between the two countries.
As of Friday, the US announced no specific plans on how they intend to move forward on the Syrian conflict, but has moved a sixth warship into the Mediterranean as a “precaution.”
The US currently has six warships in place, with reportedly five destroyers each carrying an estimated three dozen or more Tomahawk missiles for a combined total of about 200 missiles, according to a Reuters report.