FBI joins investigation of deadly pile-up
February 23, 2006 (WLS) -- The FBI is looking into the backgrounds of two victims of Wednesday's deadly pile-up on the Stevenson Expressway. They are men of Middle Eastern decent who were reportedly carrying checks in high dollar amounts and unused credit cards. Their relatives say this is a prime example of profiling by law enforcement.
Relatives of two of the crash victims say, had they been from any other part of the world, the FBI would not have sent in its Joint Terrorism Task Force to investigate a car crash.
"Because he's a businessman, he's a terrorist? This is not true," said Osama Hussein, crash victim's nephew.
After firefighters removed victims from this crash scene, police went to work investigating. In one of the cars they reportedly found big-money checks, banking receipts and nearly a dozen unused credit cards. They were in the vehicle of Dr. Lafi Hussein, who died in the accident, and his nephew Magdi Hussein, who is now in critical condition.
"It was a shock for all of us," said Osama Hussein.
Amidst their grief Thursday the Hussein family is angry. They say the Palestinian-born Dr. Hussein has been living with his family in Puerto Rico for the last 20 years. He frequently comes to Chicago because he owns property, including a South Side gas station. He was set to sell it Thursday, which is why relatives say he had a check for $108,000, far less than the $2 million in checks reported earlier.
""He's not a terrorist. He just has money, like anyone would have. It's normal for him to have this amount of money," said khaira Hussein, the crash victim's sister-in-law, through a translator.
"He was very successful and very helpful and we were very proud of him. We are very sad to see him go," said Eiman Hussein, crash victim's niece.
Instead of celebrating the life of a loved one and mourning the loss in private, this family feels as though it has had to go public to defend Lafi Hussein's good name.
"We cannot believe they're talking about terrorists. I don't know. Is it because he's Arabian? I don't what is the reason," said Osama Hussein.
A spokesperson for the FBI now says the terrorism task force was called in because the expertise of some of its financial experts was needed and no other agents were available. They continue to investigate the financial documents found in the Hussein's car.
Also killed in the crash was 75-year-old Dorothy Walsh, a retired teacher from the Southwest Side.
State police Thursday ticketed a truck driver for failure to reduce speed in connection to this crash.
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