Shiprock radiologist exonerated, released by FBI

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SHIPROCK, N.M. ? A Shiprock radiology physician, whose ethnic origin and extensive travel caused him to fall under suspicion in the early stages of the full-scale investigation into the Sept. 11 terrorist activity, reportedly has been exonerated.

A statement issued by the FBI, lead agency in cases involving the terrorist attacks against the United States, showed that Dr. Basem Hussein, an Arab-American, was detained 'long enough to facilitate necessary investigation,' and the matter is considered 'resolved.'

Attorney for Hussein, Brian Pori of the Albuquerque law firm Rothstein and Donatetli, said Hussein, a contract radiologist employed by the Medical Staffing Network in Boca Raton, Fla., came under suspicion when reports by neighbors to FBI agents prompted officials to search his homes in both Shiprock, N.M., and the Neshannock Township in Pennsylvania.

Albuquerque FBI special agent Doug Beldon said both FBI and Pennsylvania State Police searched Hussein's apartment in New Castle, Pa., about 40 miles south of Pittsburgh Sept. 12

NBC affiliate WPXI in Albuquerque initially followed up on reports that a manager at the New Castle apartment complex checked on Hussein's apartment Sept. 11 and called investigators after finding Arabic literature, flight manuals and computer software related to flying commercial aircraft.

The widely publicized reports said there was initial concern he had not been 'seen in some time.' Hussein eventually traced to the house in the medical center compound at the Northern Navajo Medical Facility in Shiprock after Allegheny, Pa., police located his car at Pittsburgh's International Airport. The vehicle was impounded.

The Navajo medical center reported that Hussein was active in his position as a radiologist at the center the day of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but did not report for work on the subsequent days, resulting in reports he was missing.

Shiprock Police Captain Randy John encouraged residents to stay calm in the wake of the early reports concerning Hussein.

'I'm pretty confident if there was a safety concern for the Shiprock community, we would be informed and requests for our assistance would be made,' John said.

'I do have information from federal authorities that Hussein's employment here did not pose any danger to the community. This is probably part of many FBI inquiries going on across the country, probably one of hundreds the authorities are looking into,' he said.

FBI special agent and spokeswoman Jerri Williams of the FBI's Philadelphia bureau said she 'does not know where WPXI got its news from, especially since it is the policy of the FBI not to discuss an investigation. We would not be able to confirm anything about this report.'

Hussein's attorney quoted Doug Beldon of the FBI saying, 'it is as much a part of the FBI's responsibility to exonerate the innocent as it is to identify the guilty.'

'That's what they've done in this case,' Pori stated. 'They have exonerated an innocent man. Some neighbors just grossly overreacted. He travels a lot. He was out of town at the time and some neighbors just said, 'Well, he's an Arab American, he must be a suspect.

'So the FBI searched his home, searched his car, didn't find anything of value and the investigation is closed. I think it's very hard to be an Arab American right now, quietly going about your business. Anyone who needs proof of that needs only to look at Dr. Hussein,' Pori said.

Hussein's position at the Northern Navajo Medical Center remains open and Pori said the continuation of Hussein's contract with the center will be determined primarily by the facility's administration.