A Georgia Tech student born in Pakistan has been in federal custody for nearly a month, apparently because authorities suspect a videotape he made of a building may have been related to terrorism, his family said.
Syed Haris Ahmed, a 21-year-old mechanical engineering major who had become increasingly religious in his Islamic faith, was arrested by the FBI March 23 and has been held since, his family said….
Ahmed’s family denied that he could be involved in anything related to terrorism. He came to the United States with his family in 1997, is an American citizen and lived with his family near Dawsonville before moving to an off-campus apartment near Georgia Tech….
Ahmed’s younger sister, Samia Ahmed, 18, said her brother told her that authorities found a video on the Internet and apparently traced it to him. “He said, ‘I made a video but didn’t distribute it to anyone,’ ” she said.
“He said [it was] a building, not an important building,” added his mother, Faiqa Ahmed. Neither woman knew the location of the building or when the tape was made.
Samia Ahmed said her brother perhaps had made the video while he was out of state on a trip with some friends. She did not know where or with whom.
Agents confiscated computer hard drives and data CDs from the family home, the family said….
Ahmed’s sister and mother spoke Wednesday from a couch at the family’s large home near Dawsonville, where they have lived for five years. They described Syed Ahmed as a likable but reserved young man who was trying to find himself….
Samia Ahmed said her brother’s interest in Islam had been growing. “He’s religious and liked the simple life,” she said. “He wants us to abide by the rules. He isn’t against anyone; he just doesn’t want us to lose our faith.”
Lately, he was getting more interested in Islamic studies and was trying to teach himself Arabic so he could read the Koran.
“He was trying to learn everything,” she said. “He’s still very innocent in his mind. He’s still a child.”
Faiqa Ahmed said her son’s grades dropped after transferring about two years ago to Georgia Tech from North Georgia College and State University, but he was pulling them up. She and her daughter said he had traveled to Pakistan in 2005 to visit cousins.
Asked what her son thought about the current troubles in the Middle East, Faiqa Ahmed said, “We don’t talk political stuff. We are ladies.”…
Ah. Of course.