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Florida Police Apologize for Detaining Three Muslim Medical Students. We'll Speak to the Young Men About Their Ordeal

September 23, 2002

Florida police have apologized for detaining three medical students two days after the anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. On September 13 Ayman Gheith, Kambiz Butt and Omer Choudhary were driving through Georgia to Florida where they were scheduled to begin a six-week clinical training course at Larkin Community Hospital in Miami.

But after stopping in a diner in Georgia, a woman reported to local police that the men were joking about 9/11. One of the students allegedly said, "They mourned on 9/11, and they are going to mourn again on 9/13."

In the hours ensuing, Florida officials unleashed a massive manhunt which was televised across the country. 20 miles of Alligator Alley were shut down. Their cars were searched. A bomb squad blew up a suspicious backpack. All three men who were detained for 17 hours, denied any wrongdoing and were released by police without charges.

After the incident, Larkin Community Hospital decided not to host the students after officials said it received hundreds of threatening e-mails.

Now just this weekend, the hospital is rethinking its decision. Altaf Ali, executive director for Florida’s chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said this Saturday that an agreement was reached last week to let the men study at Larkin Community Hospital.


  • Kambiz Butt
  • Ayman Gheith
  • Omer ChoudharyRelated link: