Anchorage residents rally around Syrian-born businessman

Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Help is pouring in for a Syrian-born businessman who was targeted for a hate crime following the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Mayor George Wuerch pledged that the city would raise $10,000 in reward money for information leading to those who tore apart Mike Maad's printing business on Saturday and spray-painting ''We hate Arabs'' across one wall.

The money also will be used to assist in creating a fund to help pay Maad's uninsured losses, including some payroll costs. It is part of the Not in Our Town fund started Monday in response to the vandalism.

Workers at Frontier Printing Services on Monday gathered smashed computer monitors and cleaned broken glass. A friend received checks, flowers and consolation from visitors at the door. It was the first workday since Maad found his business vandalized.

Anchorage police and the FBI reported little progress on the investigation Monday. Police are focusing on the state offenses of burglary and vandalism, while FBI agents are pursuing the incident as a hate crime that could bring federal civil rights charges. Alaska does not have a state hate crimes law.

''It's a way for this community to establish very clearly that this not only was a crime against you as individuals and your company,'' Wuerch said. ''But it's a crime against this whole city.''

Police are searching for two men whom witnesses reported seeing Friday night in the parking lot of the strip mall where the business is located. They were in a beige Ford Bronco or pickup and appeared to be working under the hood, Police Chief Walt Monegan said. The men are not being treated as suspects, he said, but detectives would like to speak with them to see whether they noticed anything unusual that night.

Another local business owner was threatened after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast. Rabah Chettfour of Aladdin's restaurant said people he doesn't know have called to offer support since a woman threatened him over the phone the morning of Sept. 12 and a red pickup kept stopping in front of his restaurant that evening. Some people even offered to stand guard armed at his front door.

''I thank the community enough for what they've done,'' said Chettfour, who is originally from Algeria.

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Donations to the Not in Our Town fund can be sent to the attention of Sue Foley, First National Bank Alaska, P.O. Box 100720, Anchorage, 99510.



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