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NJ Muslim: From 9/11 detainee lawyer to judge
by Wayne Parry
As the rubble of ground zero smoldered in the months after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the investigation was just as hot across the Hudson River in New Jersey.
More than 1,100 Arabs and Muslims — most of them from New York and northern New Jersey — were rounded up and detained as the FBI feverishly searched for additional terrorists.
In few places was the spotlight as white-hot as in Paterson, where as many as six of the 9/11 hijackers lived or spent time in the weeks before the attacks. As agents went knocking on doors, asking questions about religious practices, finances and acquaintances, many Muslims were cowering on the other side, terrified of being thrown in jail for crimes they knew nothing about.
A young, soft-spoken Muslim immigration attorney named Sohail Mohammed represented many people rounded up in New Jersey in the post-9/11 dragnet. Along the way, he gained the respect and friendship of many top law enforcement officials for his efforts to build bridges between the Muslim community and law enforcement and to help defuse tensions in those incredibly tense days. He won over one official whose favor would prove crucial nearly a decade later: the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Chris Christie.
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