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Monday, 16 September, 2002, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Hospital bans Florida terror scare men
Lawyer David Kubiliun, Kambiz Butt, Ayman Gheith and Omar Choudhary
The men want to clear their names and continue studies
Three Muslim medical students detained on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in the US which turned out to be a false alarm are seeking an alternative place to study after a Florida hospital cancelled their internship.


Our concern in life is to become doctors - we want to help people, we do not want to hurt

Kambiz Butt
Ayman Gheith, 27, Kambiz Butt, 25, and Omar Choudhary, 23, said they would not sue Larkin Community Hospital in South Miami, which received around 200 emails urging their exclusion after they were detained.

Police took action after a customer in a restaurant alleged she overheard the men discussing plans for an attack.

The authorities held the three for 17 hours on Friday and Saturday, shut down a major highway, and searched their cars for explosives - but found nothing threatening and released them without charge.

They are second-year students at Ross University School of Medicine, and are based at a campus on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

They are of Jordanian, Iranian and Pakistani descent.

Transfer

Jack Michel, president and chief executive of Larkin Hospital, told the Associated Press news agency he had received more than 200 emails about the case, some of them threatening.

Eunice Stone
Ms Stone is accused of "adding salt and pepper" to her report
He said the small hospital could not deal with the publicity and threats and do its health care work at the same time, adding that Ross University had agreed to transfer them to a different programme.

The three said they just wanted to clear their names and continue their education in the US.

"We're medical students. We are not terrorists," said Kambiz Butt. "Our concern in life is to become doctors. We want to help people. We do not want to hurt."

Mr Butt added that he felt no resentment against the woman who had accused them of plotting terrorist acts.

'Spicing up the story'?

Eunice Stone, a 44-year-old nurse from Cartersville, Georgia, told police she heard a conversation in which one of the three said Americans had mourned on 11 September and would mourn again on 13 September.

Students' cars
The cars were searched for several hours

The cars were pulled over after a sheriff's deputy spotted one of them reportedly pass through a toll booth in southern Florida without stopping, as they were on their way to begin the internship.

But after their release, the students denied making any comments or jokes about terrorism.

One of the three - Ayman Gheith, who has a long beard and wore a skull cap at the rest stop - said Ms Stone may have been influenced by his appearance.

The US has been on heightened alert against terror threats for the first anniversary of the 11 September attacks.


Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

14 Sep 02 | Americas
11 Sep 02 | Americas
08 Sep 02 | Middle East
20 Apr 02 | Americas
12 Feb 02 | Americas
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