Resource: Ashcroft v. Al-kidd


May 31, 2011

In 2003, the FBI arrested Abdullah al-Kidd as he was preparing to travel to Saudi Arabia to study Arabic and Islamic law. He was held for 16 days as a material witness in the terrorism trial of Sami Omar al-Hussayen. Al-Kidd has since argued the government classified him as a material witness because it lacked enough evidence to hold him as a suspect. He filed a lawsuit against then-Attorney General John Ashcroft personally, claiming that he created and authorized a program that allegedly misused the material witness statute to detain suspected terrorists. The lawsuit did not go to trial and in September 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected Ashcroft's bid for absolute immunity, holding that it didn't apply because the government's motive for arresting Al-Kidd allegedly had nothing to do with the al-Hussayen prosecution.