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San Diego’s Arab and Islamic communities have mixed feelings about September 11, 2001. Some blame Osama bin Laden, some fault the United States, and still others blame all parties involved. With one exception, these speakers are naturalized U.S. citizens.

Waleed Yakou, 39, lives in El Cajon and has managed a liquor store in City Heights for 19 years. Yakou is a Catholic, which was reason enough to flee his native country 25 years ago.

“I’m Chaldean [Iraqi Catholic] and Babylonian. I was born in Iraq, near Baghdad. I believe the Arab nations are to blame for the crisis. The whole Middle East [crisis]. Who else? I don’t agree with the Muslim nations. I’m not prejudiced, but I don’t agree with them. Their religion is too aggressive. I don’t agree with their lifestyle. That’s why I’m here. My religion and freedom is why I’m here. As far as the U.S. policy, first they need to get rid of Saddam Hussein, number one. Second thing, they are doing a very good job. The United States needs to take care of the bunch of dictators that are running the Middle East. That’s the most important thing.”

Mohamed Mohamoud, 56, came to San Diego from Somalia, a coastal country on the eastern coast of Africa. The population is principally Sunni Muslim. He lives in Chollas View and studies computer engineering at UCSD. Mohamoud is reluctant to blame anyone specific for the attack on the World Trade Center.

“It was terrorists, but I don’t know who they are. I’m not yet convinced who they are. I cannot say if it is Osama bin Laden, but I don’t think it is. Afghanistan is a political issue. I am not a politician — you need to ask them. I know that the other Muslim nations are very much worried about what is going on. Now the situation with Palestine and the Israelis is very complex. Both are wrong. The Palestinians are wrong. Israel is wrong. They have to come together. Saddam Hussein — I can’t say about him. I think the United States policy towards the Middle East needs reform. It shows some sort of rigidness towards Islamic countries, so it needs some sort of reform. They should lay the groundwork for justice for the opposing sides.”

Baktiar Hamasaed, 39, was born in the Kurdistan area of Iraq but fled to the United States when Saddam Hussein came to power. The Kurds are a mountain people. These Sunni Muslims are divided into populations in Syria, Lebanon, and northern Turkey and Iraq. Hamasaed works as a cab driver and lives in Chula Vista. He minces no words about who is to blame for the current crisis.

“Osama bin Laden. I look at the other Muslim nations and — to be honest with you, I am a Muslim, and our religion does not teach you to destroy somebody else’s life or property. It doesn’t teach you to do bad things, it teaches you to do good things. What they did was unbelievable. Muslims never should do those things.

“The Palestinians are just like the Kurds, they are fighting for their lives. That’s what we’ve been doing for the last 50, 60 years. The Kurdish people tried to get their land back, and the Palestinians are doing the same thing. They should have their own state and their own land back and leave everybody to live in peace.

“The U.S. policy in the Middle East is good, but they never finish the job. They should have finished the job, and now they end up with more troubles and spending more money for nothing. If they had finished Saddam in 1991, they would not have the problem right now and everybody would live in peace.

“As far as the Palestinians, they [the U.S.] don’t do enough. Just talk and no actions. They know exactly what’s going on in Palestine, and they could do a lot better to have a better life in Palestine and Israel. A lot of people are killed for no reason. Every human being has a right to live on this earth as a normal human being and have a good life and a better place to raise your kids. There is no reason to fight.”

Ehsam Akbar, 42, moved to the United States from Afghanistan in 1997. He currently manages the Khyber Pass restaurant and lives in Kearny Mesa. Akbar is very guarded about blaming anyone for the current crisis between the U.S. and the Middle East.

“It is very hard to say. Probably al-Qaeda and those people are to blame. Hopefully the situation in Afghanistan is getting better. We are glad that the Taliban is gone, and we hope that very soon it will be back to normal. The United States helped us a lot.

“Palestine and Israel have had a problem for a long time. Everybody likes peace, and hopefully they will get back to normal and they won’t be blaming each side anymore. I don’t want to say [anything] about the U.S. policy toward Muslim nations; I don’t have that much information. I think the U.S. has tried to bring peace.”

Maheed Mosazeli won’t disclose her age. “I’m old enough!” She lives in Normal Heights, near the restaurant she owns and operates in University Heights. The daughter of an Iranian diplomat, Mosazeli spent several years in Afghanistan and moved to the United States 14 years ago.

“I don’t know who I blame for the attack and crisis. I think the United States is to blame for the attack more than anyone, because I think they have the ability to know what is going on in the whole world, so they should have known it was coming. I usually think that the United States can do anything. I was thinking that of course they are taking care of the crisis to the best of their ability.

“I think the United States can do something in Palestine. They are killing each other and nobody is doing anything, so that is why the people are so angry. I’ve traveled many places throughout the world, and the people are very angry with the United States’ policy. I believe that we have to listen to other people. It’s always one-sided. We don’t listen to other people, and they become very angry and crazy, so they probably do that kind of thing.

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