The FBI arrived on the doorstep of businessman Najam Qureshi shortly after a run-in with mall security. His family moved from Pakistan to the United States when Qureshi was 8. Police once pulled over their car for a minor traffic violation, and Qureshi remembers his father saying, “You don’t have to fear the police here. They are here to help.”
Qureshi opened a small kiosk at the mall so his aging father, a former aeronautical engineer named Saleem, could keep busy. One day in early 2007, Saleem Qureshi left his cell phone in a mall food court. When he returned for it, security personnel had established a “perimeter” around the phone, along with other unattended items nearby that did not belong to Saleem – a stroller and two coolers.
The “suspicious” objects eventually were cleared by security, documents show. But mall guards pursued Saleem Qureshi with questions, continuing even after he returned to his kiosk.
“Qureshi moved around a lot when answering questions,” security guard Ashly Foster wrote in a suspicious activity report. “At one point, he moved to his kiosk and proceeded to take items off of two shelves just to switch them around. … He seemed to get agitated at points when I would ask more detailed questions.”
Four years after his father ended up in a suspicious activity report, his son was shown the report for the first time.
“The fact that this is in their database and they wasted time looking into these kinds of things is just silly,” said Najam Qureshi.
“Everybody that lives in this country,” he added, “is a person of interest as far as these reports are concerned."