I have been silently battling depression for the past several years. It is a depression caused by feelings of guilt, helplessness, and loss. It all started when I decided to make a significant investment in Morocco, my country of birth, with savings earned while serving my new home country, the United States. Though ultimately a mistake, it was a decision made, perhaps naively, in good faith. My brothers were unemployed just like millions of their Moroccan peers, so I opened a hookah café for them in Casablanca. The business was popular and booming until the police started to show up demanding protection money. When my brothers resisted their harassment, they were threatened with incarceration for reasons explained in more detail below. Morocco ranks 89 out of 175 countries in terms of corruption as of November 2009 according to the Corruption Perceptions Index as reported by Transparency International.
Years ago, and against the advice of some of my Moroccan friends in the United States, I joined the ranks of the U.S. Air Force because I believed (and still do believe) in the liberties and freedoms that the U.S. Constitution guarantees – liberties and freedoms that are lacking in the Arab world. Some Muslims in America believe that I should not serve America because it invaded two Muslim countries and I should not be part of “the infidels” who are battling Muslims. As a result, some Muslims in America and in Morocco called me a traitor, and others accused me of “serving the Jews”. After I honorably completed four years of service with a service connected disability, I worked as a cultural adviser for the U.S. Military in the Middle East.
Just one day after I landed in Morocco for R&R in December 2008, corrupt police officers raided our business, detained my brothers, and made false accusations against them. One of my brothers was forced to sign a statement under the threat of torture and without being given the possibility to read it. My brother had previously made a complaint against a senior police officer who had targeted my family more than once. This time he sought revenge for reporting him to his boss and to punish me for serving my adopted country in its war against terror. The timing was carefully chosen. I was monitored and targeted for the sake of retaliation, and I have evidence to back it up.
My brother’s alleged crime was corrupting youth, according to the authorities’ interpretation of Islamic Shari’ah law. Such laws are occasionally handpicked and enforced to serve the interests of select people in power. The laws in Morocco are also based on western laws, but in my case they chose to use Islamic law to punish an American military veteran and his family and thus send a strong message to others. According to the law as they cited it, a hookah café might lead men and women to commit sins, including the indulgence of sexual desires. Such a law would be incomprehensible and unthinkable in the civilized and free world. On the other hand, the authorities turn a blind eye to night clubs and other hookah cafés owned by people close to power.
In our case, the authority figures who were supposed to enforce law and order instead extorted and intimidated my family, abusing their powers and destroying an innocent family’s livelihood. The prosecutor and the judge were likewise involved in such injustice by allowing it to proceed without investigation.
As context, note that Morocco has been receiving millions of U.S. dollars in aid along with economic and political backing, especially in the Moroccan government’s long struggle against the Polisario, a separatist armed militia backed by Algeria in the south of the kingdom.
As a result of injustice, one of my brothers was wrongfully imprisoned, and my youngest brother left for Austria and applied for political asylum. I even enlisted the help of a U.S. senator from Florida to approach the U.S. Embassy in Vienna to intervene and help him. The U.S. diplomats said that my brother was not a U.S. citizen and that they thus could not help him. U.S. Homeland Security also denied my brothers’ humanitarian paroles via USCIS. I was left alone battling injustice and persecution. According to USCIS, Humanitarian parole is used sparingly to bring someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency. There must be an urgent humanitarian reason or significant public benefit for the parole to be granted. USCIS said that my brothers do not qualify for such help!
When the United States invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, in the heart of the Muslim world, they hired thousands of native Arabic, Dari, Pashto and other crucial languages speakers to help them achieve their goals. Likewise, U.S. defense firms hired thousands of local interpreters, including myself, for the same reason. The Pentagon relies heavily on these men and women; they have critically helped their missions, saved thousands of American lives, and advanced American agendas in the region. Many of them have died or were wounded in the process.
If you are a native Arabic, Dari, and/or Pashto linguist who is seeking a job in conflict zones working either directly alongside U.S. forces or behind the scenes, you need to keep in mind that, if your family is targeted in your country of birth, you will be left behind and alone. This is not because the U.S. government does not care but rather because there is no legal framework that allows U.S. authorities to intervene and assist the foreign siblings of U.S. military linguists in case such persecution takes place. In an effort to change this, I created a petition at change.com. It has been signed by thousands of Americans and was sent to my congressman, Gus M. Bilirakis, with a view to drafting a law that will address the issue; however, he still has not responded to my request.
To protest the injustice in my country of birth, I wrote an open letter to His Majesty, the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI. I enlisted the help of Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, as well as Congressman Bilirakis, but the Moroccan government remains silent, and the U.S. government is incapable of assisting a U.S. military veteran with a service-connected disability or even investigating the matter further, though they shared their sympathy in the form of a letter from the State Department.
The following are some of the Defense contracting firms that are in business in hiring interpreters and linguists in support for the U.S. Military, State Department, and Intelligence agencies in their worldwide operations: Contracting Worldwide Unlimited (CWU), Mission Essential Personnel (MEP), Consolidated Analysis Centers (CACI), All World Language Consultants (ALC), Leonie, Jacobs, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), COLSA, World Wide Language resources (WWLR), SOSI International, Global Language Solutions (GLS), Global dimensions, Valbin, Arrow Security and Training, Bluehawk, CLGT Solutions, CLI Solutions, Consulting Services Group, Enigma International, Global Executive Management, Integrity Business Solutions, Szanca Solutions, Torden, among many others.
My siblings were unjustly punished for my service to America. They are now stymied on three continents (Africa, Europe & Asia). One brother, who is married and has children, cannot get a job in Morocco, and it appears that Moroccan authorities have successfully made me pay dearly for serving the Stars and the Stripes by depriving my family of their livelihood – a great injustice and perhaps even a human rights violation. I am planning to file a lawsuit against those corrupt Moroccan officials in the U.S. Federal Court under the Alien Tort Statute, the foreign bribe law, and possibly the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, and I am seeking your help with the legal fees by purchasing my e-book in Amazon titled, ” We Are Not the Enemy!: A Muslim-American U.S. Military Veteran explains the Muslim “problem” and offers proposals for peace or by clicking on the following link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07R4JYWG9.
God bless America.