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Anaheim Doctor Still Held in Israel

Arrest: The Muslim American physician was asked to assess medical need in Palestinian lands. U.S. reports no signs of mistreatment.


Israeli officials confirmed Tuesday that an American Muslim physician from Anaheim has been arrested in Tel Aviv on suspicion of involvement with terrorist activities.

David Douek of the Israel Consulate in Los Angeles could provide no details on the arrest Sunday of Riad Abdelkarim, an Anaheim physician who associates said had traveled to the Palestinian territories for medical relief work. Also detained over the weekend on suspicion of terrorism was Dalell Mohmed, director of KinderUSA, a Dallas-based charity for Palestinian children.

"Because of the sensitivity to national security and international security, the details are very sensitive," Douek said. He said he tried to get more information on the detentions because of the tremendous media interest, but was told by the Israeli Foreign Ministry that none would be forthcoming at this time.

Family members of the two detainees expressed disbelief that their relatives would be involved in terrorism, fear for their safety and outrage over what they called Israeli harassment of medical relief workers.

"These are ridiculous allegations," said Abdelkarim's brother Basil, a Bellflower physician. "There is no evidence to support these claims."

In Dallas, Mohmed's older sister, Alice El-Jundi, said Tuesday that she was appalled by the charges. She said her sister is a humanitarian aid worker who has delivered wheelchairs to orphans throughout the Mideast and other relief to Bosnia and elsewhere.

"If she was involved in terrorism, why would she go back there on a mission of aid? Why would she stay there? She's not an idiot," El-Jundi said.

Some details of the detentions were provided Tuesday by Rushdie Abdel Cader, a San Luis Obispo physician who traveled with Abdelkarim to assess the medical needs in the Palestinian territories at the invitation of the International Medical Corps, a Los Angeles-based global humanitarian organization. Cader said that he was also detained at Ben Gurion Airport with Abdelkarim but was released 16 hours later after an interrogation.

Cader said Israeli security officials would not allow him to sleep during the ordeal and constantly called him a liar when he answered questions such as where he had traveled and whether he had brought money into the Palestinian territories. Cader said he told officials that he had distributed between $2,000 and $3,000 to needy Palestinians in Jenin and elsewhere, money collected from his American neighbors, and was told such acts were illegal.

He also said that he was not touched by Israeli security officials, but that he witnessed them shoving Abdelkarim when they transferred him to another room.

"They said: 'We don't care if you're an American, and we don't care what Americans think,'" Cader said. "There is no due process over there. It's really scary."

Douek said he could not confirm the account.

A U.S. representative met with both Abdelkarim and Mohmed on Tuesday, and a State Department official in Israel said there was no evidence of mistreatment.

"What a lot of people have wanted to know in this case--as in other cases--is what are you guys doing to get them out of [prison]?" the State official said. "We can't just go and get them out, just like the Israeli Consulate couldn't get someone out of a U.S. prison if they were being held," the official said.


Times staff writer Bill Lobdell contributed to this report.

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