Local 9/11 Responder's Story - With a Big Twist

 September 11th, 2001, was a big day in all of our lives, but even more so for one local man.


Ahmed Mustafa of Webster knew 9-11 was going to be one of those days.  "I was supposed to be on the plane that went to the Pentagon.  I was actually booked on that flight and because of my son's first day of school I had cancelled and scheduled for the next day," said Ahmed Mustafa.


A Muslim American, Ahmed panicked when he watched the second plane hit the towers on television.  "My immediate reaction was lock the house, get your guns out people know you're a foreigner.  There's going to be a violent reaction," said Mustafa.


A volunteer firefighter and paramedic here in Webster Ahmed felt it was his duty to respond to ground zero.  "I have Mustafa on my helmet.  I'm obviously not a John Smith and I'm going to a place that's pretty emotionally charged.  Is this really the right thing and I said yes if you're okay with it.  I'm okay," said Mustafa.


It was a rescue mission, but they ended up giving moral support.  "You just stood there wanting to do something but there was literally nothing to be done.  We just hoped.  We hoped someone survived," said Mustafa.


But after Ahmed returned he made a startling discovery.  A Wall Street Journal reporter told him terrorists may have used his personal information to pull off the attacks.  "And he said well apparently you are one of the terrorists and I said well clearly I'm not I'm standing here talking to you on the phone and so obviously I'm not and he said your info was stolen and one of the people who crashed the aircraft into a building had your data," said Mustafa.


Ahmed immediately called the FBI.  He was brought into an interrogation room.  "I was interviewed for several hours.  I mean I basically had to prove I'm not some whack job," said Mustafa.


And it's a good thing Ahmed came forward when he did.  "Apparently I was at a point where they we're going to start freezing assets and bank accounts.  It was going to be a real problem for me but then the gentleman cleared me," said Mustafa.


We asked Ahmed why him?  "The fact that I'm a Muslim, that I live in this country, that I fly airplanes, that I do all the other things (it) just worked out so perfectly that I fit a profile," said Mustafa.


To this day he has no clue if they used him as an alias or what.  "We'll never know what was used and what wasn't and of course I'm not at liberty to have access to that info but somewhere in there they used pieces and nuggets of me," said Mustafa.


Ahmed is still on the Transportation Security Administration watch list, but he flies weekly.  "If I fly on an airline I haven't flown on in a year all the sudden I'm going through extra screening and security.  And they've got to call people and check my i.d. twice.  It's a real hassle," said Mustafa.


For the most part things have returned to normal.  But he'll always remember 9/11 and especially, his time spent at ground zero.  "It helps us realize we're all the same.  We're all in this together.  We all have to watch each others backs but at the same time you have to get on with your day.  So it's good to take a moment pause and remember," said Mustafa.



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