May 19th, 2010
10:28 AM ET

Pakistani man: Chile detention is 'misunderstanding,'

A Pakistani man arrested at the U.S. Embassy in Chile last week when his clothes tested positive for explosives said Tuesday he was innocent and maintained a positive outlook.

"I strongly believe that there is a big misunderstanding stemming from a mistaken identity," Mohammed Saif-ur-Rehman Khan told reporters in Santiago after a meeting with his lawyer. "I want to assure you all that the allegations laid against me are baseless and false."

Khan said he wishes no harm to anyone and has great respect for the United States.

The case has been hard on him and his family, he said, but he joked that there is one positive aspect: "It will not be necessary to send my resume to apply for a job, because everyone knows me now."

Khan was arrested May 10 after setting off detectors that check for explosives at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago.

At a closed hearing Saturday in Santiago, officials said detectors found residue of the explosive materials TNT and tetryl on Khan's cell phone and documents when he arrived at the embassy. Later, officials said, a search of Khan's apartment found the same particles on clothing, a suitcase, and a laptop bag.

He was detained for five days under Chile's antiterrorism law. A judge released the 28-year-old from jail Saturday but ruled he must check in weekly with authorities while prosecutors build their case.

"Everyone who knows me and the people around the world are shocked by my detention and all the procedures that followed the incident on Monday," Khan said.

"I hope that the case is resolved ASAP in order to get personal contact with my mother, my father and the rest of the family. This is not (for) my personal sake, but also because I know my mother is not in tranquility since she knows all the details of the big misunderstanding."

Khan's mother, Parvin Mahmood, told CNN on Saturday that she was "full of grief and sorrow" over the incident. She and her husband said their son is innocent.

"This is a misunderstanding," his father, Mahmood Ahmad Khan, said. "Six months before, he was here. All the time he was very against fundamentalists. He played guitar and everything."

Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter told CNN Chile that Khan had entered the country January 15 on a tourist visa and was doing an internship in tourism at a Chilean hotel.

"I have traveled across the world because I have a passion for tourism," Khan told reporters Tuesday. "Since I was a little kid, traveling at first with my beloved family and then by myself to get the experience that I need to achieve my goals in order to become a successful person, which any normal person would want to become."

Khan said he has been to the United States and "I greatly admire the American values of truth, justice, and freedom." He said he can understand the panic he caused at the embassy but believes it was a false alarm.

"Please have your trust in me - I have no knowledge of any substance that can (cause) harm to anyone," he said.

U.S. Embassy officials had asked Khan to come in for a routine consular issue, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said last week. He declined to elaborate.

A senior U.S. official told CNN that Khan was on a watch list and had been tracked for some time because he was believed to be involved with an extremist group based in the Western Hemisphere. The official declined to identify the group.

"As far as we can tell, the origin of the activities which brought him to our attention were more of a local or regional nature than international," the official said. "He came to Chile on a student visa and while there he associated himself with a group that we have some knowledge of that was espousing extremist anti-Western views."

The official said the association was enough to call him to the U.S. embassy in Chile to revoke his visa.

The incident occurred a week after Faisal Shahzad - a Pakistani-born naturalized U.S. citizen - was arrested in connection with a failed car bombing in New York's Times Square.

Khan said he is grateful to his lawyer and the Chilean justice system and trusts "deeply" that they will come through for him.

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Paul

    Truth prevailed. Justice prevailed...
    Go to this blog and look at the other side of the story, what really happened and how messed up US intel is. It could be you, it could be anyone, locked up and put false allegations or maybe could be a misunderstanding, support the truth. Do some research on it, use your brain instead of media's 'set agenda'.

    God bless all innocent people who are being victim of "terrorists" and this so called the "war on terror".
    http://innocentsaif.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/what-really-happened/

    May 19, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. Glenn

    MISIDENTIFICATION,REVOKED VISAS AND THE STATE DEPARTMENT MISSION COMBATING THE THREAT OF ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­TERRORISM, comment By Dr. Glenn R. Morales, Attorney at Law, Private International Law

    The State Department‚Äôs data-base on ‚ÄúVisa Revocations Worldwide‚ÄĚ, which contains notifications of all alien visa revocations and their case numbers, allows the Terrorist Screening Center of the Department of Justice and the DHS-ICE-CBP Officers at ports of entry to closely monitor the ‚ÄúAlien Visa Revocation‚ÄĚ cases (*) and their current status, in an effort to assist the National Security Investigation Division and the Office of Investigation‚Äôs missions to combat the threat of terrorism and to enhance U.S. national security, denying such aliens entry to the U.S.A. on ‚Äúlack of a valid Non-Immigrant or Immigrant visa‚ÄĚ, (*) even revoking, retroactively, a valid ‚ÄúNon-Immigrant‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúImmigrant‚ÄĚ visa from the date of its issuance.

    The State Department receive many reports on aliens from the FBI and other U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Agencies, through the Consular System, and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research , provides classified Intelligence Agency information on terrorist threats, cross-checking important records that eventually relate to alien individuals who, although they might already hold valid ‚ÄúNon-Immigrant‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúImmigrant‚ÄĚ visas, are shown to be ineligible under the previsions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

    Consular Officers are required to provide each applicant an explanation of the legal basis for denying the visa. However, if the basis for ineligibility is terrorism-under the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, the Consular Officer , would not be able to explain the reasons behind the denial because of national security grounds.

    We understand that the american visa administrative processing time required to screen an alien visa application at the American Consulates abroad including the advisory opinion review is a necessary part of the visa application rather than adverse Department action.

    I noted that aliens experienced problems at the Ports of entry ( airports, land borders ) because of screening by Immigration and Customs officials showed a potential match with a terrorist watch records. Because these situations, Officers take visa revocation in airports based or an interest in ‚Äúinformation-integrity‚ÄĚ.

    Finally, an alien ‚Äúmisidentification‚ÄĚ is not adverse result for the visa applicant.

    August 1, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |