Like a scenario out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, an innocent man was accused of assisting the 9/11 hijackers in their terrorist plot. Abdallah Higazy was an Egyptian national studying computer engineering at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn. In December 2001, he was coerced into falsely confessing his “role” in 9/11 after the FBI was tipped that he supposedly owned an air-band transceiver capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground communication.
The transceiver turned out to belong to an airline pilot staying in Abdallah’s NY hotel. Higazy was released after 34 days in custody. He subsequently sued both his FBI interrogator and the hotel he stayed in, whose security officers had found the radio. The hotel settled, but initially the FBI suit was dismissed. Upon appeal, the 2nd Circuit remanded the case to district court.
Now here’s what’s really amazing: the court brief clearly shows that the FBI threatened torture of Higazy’s family back in Egypt. When the brief was published online, it was quickly withdrawn and replaced with a censored version, without the torture threats. Blogger Howard Bashman had the first version however, posted it, and then received a call from the court demanding he take down the unredacted version.