- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2002

JERUSALEM Israel detained an American doctor for two weeks on suspicion he was linked to al Qaeda before releasing him without charge.

The U.S. Embassy said that it was barred from seeing the doctor during his detention, and that there was no evidence linking him to any terror group.

Dr. Khaled Nazem Diab, 34, arrived in Israel on Nov. 14 on a mission for the Qatari Red Crescent and the University of Missouri Trauma Center to train Palestinian social workers, said Farek Hussein, director for the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Dr. Diab, who holds a U.S. passport, was detained at Ben-Gurion International Airport by Israeli officials, held for two weeks, and then released last week and deported to Jordan, Mr. Hussein said.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Paul Patin said embassy officials sought to see Dr. Diab but were denied access.

"We have no evidence that he was involved in terrorist activity," Mr. Patin said. "He's a qualified doctor. He's been in and out of the [Palestinian] territories doing humanitarian work with children."

State Department spokeswoman Anne Marks said Dr. Diab was deported to Jordan on Nov. 26. He lives in Qatar and has no U.S. address.

Miss Marks said that a U.S. consular official from Tel Aviv met with the doctor before his deportation, and that Dr. Diab did not complain of any mistreatment.

A week after his deportation, Israel's government press office released a statement yesterday saying Dr. Diab was suspected of funneling money to al Qaeda and other unidentified terror groups.

Dr. Diab worked with an Islamic charity group, al-Najda, which has been investigated and shut down in the United States, the statement said.

Israel claimed Dr. Diab lived in Afghanistan and was in close contact with groups that identify with the Taliban. The statement also said Dr. Diab had contacts with activists connected to Hamas, the militant group that has carried out many of the suicide bombings in Israel.

Israel did not provide evidence to support any of the claims.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers killed two suspected Islamic militants yesterday in a gunbattle in the West Bank, and Israeli helicopters fired missiles in the Gaza Strip, killing a man suspected in the deaths of seven Israeli soldiers.

Israeli troops searching for members of the militant Islamic Jihad group in Tufah village, near Hebron, came under fire, the army said, and soldiers shot back, killing two men. Palestinian medics said they found the men's bodies among trees in a remote valley, shot in the head.

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