A U.S. Secret Service agent on a Detroit anti-terror task force has been suspended after he admitted scrawling an anti-Islamic epithet on a Muslim prayer calendar during a search of a suspect's home last week, authorities said yesterday.
The agent, a 10-year veteran whose name has not been released, was removed from the U.S. Attorney's Joint Terrorism Task Force in Detroit Wednesday and placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation, the Secret Service said yesterday.
The agent admitted writing "Islam is Evil, Christ is King" on a calendar posted on the refrigerator in the Dearborn home of Omar Shishani, authorities said. The agent was part of a team executing a search warrant July 18.
A day earlier, Shishani, 47, was arrested at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and charged with possessing $12 million in bogus cashier's checks. Authorities have said that his name appears on a watch list of people who might have been trained in al Qaeda camps. They are trying to determine whether he has links to terrorism, something his lawyer has denied.
U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Collins in Detroit said the agent could face criminal charges, including civil rights violations and exceeding authority during the execution of a search warrant, according to an office spokeswoman.
Shishani's attorney, Nabih Ayad, said yesterday that the agent's action had "undermined the credibility" of the task force and the case against his client, who is being held without bond.
"It is really disturbing," Ayad said. "What else is this person thinking of doing? Is he thinking of sticking something inside the home? Sticking fake phone numbers in the home? I couldn't believe someone from the federal government would do such a thing."
Hodan Hassan, spokeswoman for the Council on American Islamic Relations in Washington, lauded the Secret Service for taking quick action against the agent.
"We hope this sends a signal throughout law enforcement agencies that such bigoted behavior is not tolerated. This incident also highlights the need for law enforcement officials to undergo sensitivity training."
The federal agent was suspended after he was interviewed by the Secret Service's Office of Inspection in Washington, said Marc Connolly, an agency spokesman. "The Secret Service does not and will not tolerate racial, cultural or religious bias," Connolly said. "The Secret Service regrets the unprofessional action taken by this individual."
Federal authorities described the agent as a religious man who had no prior
disciplinary actions at the agency.
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