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"American Dream" Becomes Nightmare for Med Students

Patriot Eunice Stone of Georgia causes three men to be detained for 17 hours, their clothing strewn along Interstate 75. Now they lose their training assignment as other "patriots" reportedly threaten hospital to which they were traveling.
.c The Associated Press

DAVIE, Fla. (Sept. 15) - Insisting he and his friends bore no resentment toward anyone, one of the three Muslim medical students detained in a terror scare on a Florida highway said Sunday that the situation was a misunderstanding.

Kambiz Butt, 25, said that he and Ayman Gheith, 27, and Omar Choudhary, 23, simply want to clear their names and be allowed to continue their education in the United States.

''We're medical students. We are not terrorists,'' Butt said, flanked by Gheith and Choudhary. ''Our concern in life is to become doctors. We want to help people. We do not want to hurt.''

Butt, the only one of the students to speak at a news conference, also said all were worried about their futures but harbor no resentment toward the woman who told authorities she overheard them discussing terrorist plans Thursday at a restaurant in Calhoun, Ga.

''We're in a state of shock and we are scared,'' Butt said. ''But I'd like to tell the American people that we are not a threat.''

The Miami hospital where the three were headed before they were detained for 17 hours Friday on Interstate 75, the main east-west route through the Everglades, says they aren't welcome anymore.

The head of Larkin Community Hospital said Sunday he had received more than 200 e-mails after the incident, some of them threatening.

''Our primary objective is to take care of patients. I don't know how that could be done with all this media coverage,'' said Dr. Jack Michel, president and chief executive officer of Larkin.[]

He said the men's medical school, Ross University, had agreed to transfer them to a different training program and that they might be welcome at Larkin later.

The woman who called authorities, Eunice Stone of Cartersville, Ga., said she heard the students talking about blowing up buildings and laughing about the Sept. 11 attacks. She also said she heard the students saying that a terrorist event was looming on Sept. 13.

''Not once did we mention 9-11. Not once did we mention anything about 9-13, nor did we joke about anything of that sort,'' Butt said. ''She was probably just eavesdropping on our conversation and might have heard a few key words that she misconstrued.''

Butt said he believes Stone was attempting to be ''a patriot for America.''

Stone stood by her report of what she heard and said she would do the same thing again.

''I am not a racist, and I am not ignorant,'' she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ''I was just trying to do what's best.''



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