Not Saussure

September 9, 2006

Routine credit check uncovers “Son of Saddam Hussein” — in Northern California?

Filed under: Bloody Yanks, Iraq, Politics, usa, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 9:50 pm

His local newspaper, The Arcata Eye, reports

On August 10, after his family was refused a home loan, an Arcata man was mortified to find the phrase “son of Saddam Hussein” included on his credit report.

“I looked at it and couldn’t believe my eyes!” Said the Arcata man who asked that only his middle name, Hassan, be divulged.

The routine credit check, pulled by the Arcata family’s prospective mortgage company, lists the alleged alias under the section titled “Borrower Bureau Alert Information:”

“HASSAN ALIASES: AL-TIKRITI, ALI SADDAM HU.S.SEIN DOB: 1980 ALT (ALTERNATE) DOB: 1983; POB: IRAQ; NATL: IRAQI; SON OF SADDAM HU.S.SEIN AL-TIKRITI…”

A partial name match to the individual listed on the Arcata man’s credit report, “Hassan” is the man’s middle name, but any likeness to the description of Hussein’s son ends there.

“It was almost surreal, why just because of my middle name, it’s not even similar, it’s out of total ignorance,” said Hassan, who explained the alleged alias is full of discrepancies: Hassan who was born in the U.S. in the 1940s, is not of Iraqi descent and has never had contact with nor visited the Middle East, believes his middle name is the only possible basis for the information listed on his credit report.

“I ran home to show my wife and called the FBI, and attempted to make a police report for fear of stolen identity. The police officer indicated this was part of the patriot act or “big brother” and filing a police report would resolve nothing at this point,” said Hassan who indicated the situation has put the family’s plan to purchase a home on hold as they attempt to resolve the situation. The family explained may even loose a chance at Arcata’s first-time homebuyer’s program if they can’t get a loan for the balance in the next few months.

This may explain some of the delays people face when the US think they’ve found someone on a transatlantic flight who’s persona non grata in their country, though why this always seems to necessitate diverting the flight and making an emergency landing to put him off, at enormous expense to the airline and inconvenience to everyone else, rather than just stopping him at passport control at the scheduled destination, is beyond me.

It reminds me a bit of what I was told by an Indian (as in from Bombay rather than Native American) colleague of mine when I worked in the USA for a couple of years in the 1980s. During the — then recent — Iranian hostage crisis, he’d frequently received abusive late-night phone calls at his New York apartment; as he said, he tried to explain to them that he was Indian, not Iranian, and was a Hindu, not a Muslim, and even if he were, he still wouldn’t be able to free any of the hostages.

He laughed about it, but it can’t have been much fun receiving such calls, particularly since his wife and two-year-old daughter were at home alone for much of the day.

Hat Tip: Boing Boing 

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1 Comment »

  1. […] In other words, all travellers to and from the USA are being profiled — and the profiles stored, of course — on the basis of secret algorithms and quite possibly inaccurate data; remember the chap in Northern California who’d never been near Iraq in his life who discovered he’s been turned down for a mortgage because the credit reference agency thought he was Saddam Hussein’s son? At the very least this means people risk being subjected to needless delays and searches at American airports and land and sea borders based, in part, on their seating preferences and their choice of in-flight meals; at worst it seems it can lead to their being placed on employment blacklists for no reason they can readily ascertain or challenge. […]

    Pingback by American authorities secretly give international travellers terrorist "risk" score « Not Saussure — December 1, 2006 @ 11:14 pm


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