Judge Revokes Bail For Saudi Bus Riders
PC Free Zone has a post with the photos of the two Saudi joy riders.
UPDATE: Foreigners Cleared In Bus Scare :
From Tampa Bay Online: Two Saudi men jailed last week after being accused of boarding a school bus and riding to a New Tampa high school could be released as early as today after federal and local authorities determined the pair are in this country legally and are not a security risk.
Mana Saleh Almanajam, 23, and Shaker Mohsen Alsidran, 20, were charged with trespassing on school property Friday. A day after their arrest, the $250 bail was revoked by a judge to give Immigration and Customs Enforcement time to investigate the two men.
Monday, ICE Special Agent in Charge Robert Weber said investigators found Almanajam and Alsidran are here legally on student visas and that immigration holds would not be imposed.
"In a nutshell," he said, "we determined what their status was and that it did not require any immigration detention. They are not here illegally."
The two University of South Florida students, enrolled in the English Language Institute, were held in isolation at Orient Road Jail, said sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway, "for everybody's safety."
He said detectives over the weekend concluded the men meant no harm when they boarded a school bus at Fletcher Avenue and 42nd Street early Friday morning.
"We determined that they were apparently just confused," Callaway said. "There is nothing else to lead us to file more criminal charges."
The men raised concerns among the students on the bus when they began speaking in Arabic. The bus driver, a substitute, called ahead, and deputies met the bus at Wharton High School and arrested both men.
Initially they lied about their home country, saying they were from Morocco, Callaway said. They then gave different stories as to why they got on the bus, he said.
Ahmed Bedier, Tampa director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the misunderstanding was the result of cultural differences and language barriers and that local authorities overreacted when they jailed the men and revoked their bail.
Monday, Bedier visited the men and said their conflicting stories were the result of a lack of ability to communicate.
"The whole reason they got on the bus was because they wanted to go [to] the school," Bedier said. "They had some time on their hands, and they like to look around the city. They don't have their own transportation, and they saw the bus stop and thought there would be no harm in riding the bus.
"I explained to them about the yellow buses being exclusively for students of public schools," Bedier said, "and they responded that, 'We are students attending a public school.'"
He said both men "are very confused; there's a great deal of anxiety on their part. Nobody explained to them in their native language what was going on. They were in the dark as to why they were in jail."
School security officials are weighing the possibility of picture identification cards for students and more training for parents, students and bus drivers.
"The bus driver did the right thing," Hillsborough County school district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said. "She was a sub, but she called into the school that there was a disturbance on the bus. Drivers are trained to notice suspicious objects and people and also get to know kids on the bus."
Because the driver was a substitute, Cobbe said, "she didn't know any of the kids on the bus."
Almanajam and Alsidran didn't look out of place at first, she said, but when they didn't speak the language, the students brought it to the driver's attention.
As a reminder of why school security in an age of terrorism is so very important, you need only recall the tragedy at the school in Beslan Russia. WARNING: graphics presented in this web documentary are very disturbing. Those children didn't die because George Bush invaded Iraq or supported Israel, yet Muslim fanatics viewed them as legitimage targets.
I would hate to think that the political correctness and multiculturalism which is destroying so much of public education would also undermine our ability to be effective in preventing a tragedy like Beslan from occurring in this country.
Too many school officials seem intent to suspend students who draw a picture of a gun, or accidentally bring a butter knife to school. Yet, what are they doing to address the vulnerabilities suggested by the events in Florida?