By Rachel Petersen
A McAlester High School graduate and United States Air Force veteran says he’s being harassed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Saadiq Long, 43, now lives in Qatar with his wife and children. He teaches English as a second language there and, until recently, has not visited the states since 2001. Long’s mother, who lives in McAlester, is suffering from congestive heart failure and Long decided to fly home to Oklahoma from Qatar to visit his family.
In the past six months, Long’s travels to the United States were denied. “He’s been attempting to return to the U.S. for six months,” said Adam Soltani, Long’s attorney and executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations — Oklahoma.
“We’ve worked with him for three months to help him come back and get him removed, at least temporarily, from the no-fly list.”
Long has no idea why his name was on a no-fly list and doesn’t know why the FBI might be interested in him, he said.
On Nov. 19, Long was finally able to fly to Oklahoma.
“I arrived in McAlester in the evening on the 19th,” Long said. “And on the 20th, at around 11 a.m., an FBI agent came to my mother’s home.” Long said he would have had no problem speaking with the FBI, as long as his legal representative from CAIR was present during the questioning.
After that, Long said FBI agents staked out his mother’s house and followed him everywhere he went. “Several agents were staked out at my mother’s house — 24 hours a day,” Long said. He said he even jotted down many license plate numbers and makes and models of the cars stationed at his mother’s home.
Long said he wanted break from the constant FBI surveillance. He and his sister, Ava Anderson, decided to head to Oklahoma City on Nov. 23. Long said he got in the back seat of his sister’s vehicle and kept his head down in hopes that the FBI would not follow them and he could have a break from their constant “stalking.”
Long’s sister said when she was driving towards the turnpike, she noticed a car following very close to her bumper. She then noticed a second vehicle following her, she said.
Anderson told the News-Capital she was nervous and slowed down, in hopes that the two vehicles would pass her. But they didn’t pass, she said. Anderson said the vehicles’ windows were tinted so darkly that she could not see inside to determine who was following her.
“I was in fear for my safety,” she said.
Anderson said she decided to turn around and drive to the McAlester police station to make a report about being followed, and that there is a long stretch of empty, dark roadway between McAlester and the nearest tollbooth on the Indian Nation Turnpike.
She said one of the vehicles flashed bright lights. She also said that she never saw any emergency blue and red lights flashing at her.
“I pulled into the driveway at the police station (in McAlester) and told my brother I was going inside,” Anderson said. “Eight to 15 officers surrounded my car with their guns drawn,” Anderson said. “It was hard to see cause they had a spotlight on me.”
Anderson said police were giving her conflicting orders over a loudspeaker. She said one officer told her to turn around and when she did, another officer said, “Don’t look at me, turn around.”
Anderson said she was handcuffed and, when police saw her brother in the back of her vehicle with his hands up, they drew their guns again and ordered him out of the car. Anderson said she began to try to explain to an officer about the recent FBI harassment and that her brother’s situation had been in the news.
Anderson said a second officer gave the officer near her an order, “Throw her ass to the ground,” Anderson said she heard from one of the officers. “The officer threw me to the ground on my face,” Anderson said.
Anderson said after the handcuffs were removed from her wrists, “I saw a man walk out of the darkness ... and approach me.” Anderson said the man approaching her was an FBI agent.
“He said he just wanted to apologize,” she said. “And then he went over and spoke with my brother, but I didn’t hear what he said to him. I fear what would have happened if I hadn’t gone back into the city limits,” Anderson said.
Long said the FBI agent spoke to him after speaking to his sister. “He told me if I had only spoke to him when he came to my mom’s house on the 20th that none of this would have transpired,” Long said.
Anderson said that they were then released by the police. “We were told we were free to go,” she said. “They never even checked our IDs.”
The McAlester News-Capital spoke with McAlester police Thursday regarding the incident.
“On Friday, Nov. 23 the McAlester Police Department responded to an assistance call from the FBI through the Oklahoma Highway Patrol,” said McAlester Police Chief Jim Lyles. “After the stop was completed in the 100 block of East Washington in McAlester, the situation was turned over to the FBI and the subjects of the stop were released shortly afterwards. No charges were filed at that time.”
A McAlester police call log confirms McAlester police were contacted by OHP to stop a vehicle an behalf of the FBI. “OHP advised that a FBI agent was attempting to stop a white Toyota (Rav) near the turnpike and (U.S. Highway) 270,” the call log states, “and that the vehicle was failing to stop for the agent.” An OHP communications officer requested any possible assistance to get the vehicle stopped. “MPD officers intercepted and the vehicle was stopped in front of city hall near the police department,” the log states. “Once the vehicle and its occupants were secured the matter was handled by the FBI.”
On Dec. 13, CAIR filed a letter with the Department of Justice requesting an investigation into the “unlawful detention at gunpoint of Saadiq Long” and his sister by the FBI and other Oklahoma-based agents.
The CAIR letter describes in detail the incident that took place in McAlester in front of McAlester City Hall.
Long graduated from MHS in 1987. Shortly after graduation, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served until the late 90s, he said, before moving to Egypt.
“I tried to learn Arabic ... and I received my certificate to teach English as a second language in Egypt,” he said.
Long said in 2004 or 2005 he moved to Qatar, a country in the Middle East where he now lives and currently teaches English as a second language for a trading company.
Long’s current travel plans have him returning to Qatar and his family in February. “But before he leaves Oklahoma,” Soltani said, “he wants to make sure this situation is cleared up first.” That may mean Long will stay in Oklahoma longer than originally planned, Soltani said.
When asked how Long’s mother is doing, Soltani said, “She’s doing okay.” Soltani said the situation with her son has been stressful for her. When Long was denied travel to the U.S., his mother was worried she wouldn’t be able to see her son again, the attorney said. But now that she has seen him, she is still worried, Soltani said. “This situation has been stressful on her ... its taken a toll on her health.”
Long agreed the situation has been rough on his mother. “She’s a tough lady, but this has taken a toll on her,” he said Thursday.
Asked why he thinks Long is under FBI surveillance, Soltani said “Anything we say would really only be speculation.” Soltani said Long has never committed a crime nor has Long ever knowingly associated with anyone who has committed a crime.
In fact, Soltani said Long can’t even recall ever getting a speeding ticket.
“We’re trying to get answers,” Soltani said. Long’s attorney said they are seeking answers as to why Long is being harassed by law enforcement and they are hoping the harassment stops.
FBI spokesman Rick Rains in Oklahoma City confirmed to the Associated Press that he was familiar with Long, but declined to comment further.
Contact Rachel Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to this story.