Multicultural Relations Turn Sour in Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) - A Muslim "multicultural relations officer" for Ohio's Office of Homeland Security claims in court that Internet bloggers defamed him and cost him his job by posting that he was an "Islamist mole" who sympathized with terrorists.
Omar Alomari sued the City of Columbus, Todd Alan Sheets, Stephen Coughlin, John Guandolo, Patrick Poole and a John Doe known on the Internet as "Rusty Shackleford," in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
Alomari was hired as a full-time multicultural relations officer in 2006 by the Office of Homeland Security (OHS), and was in charge of building relationships between the state agency and the Muslim community.
After he published two articles on Islamic culture and radicalization in 2007, Alomari says, "defendant Poole began writing a series of articles condemning individuals and organizations within Central Ohio's Muslim communities as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers."
Alomari claims Poole also began making public records requests for emails and other communications from the multicultural relations officer to Muslims in his area.
After the records requests, Alomari says, defendant Shackleford - who operates a blog called the Jawa Report - "began posting articles claiming that plaintiff had ties to terrorists, terrorist organizations, and/or organizations with links to terrorism."
The complaint states: "the Jawa Report (a) labeled plaintiff an 'Islamist mole,' a 'radicalized fox,' 'a former agent of a foreign government,' and 'a lying scumbag,' (b) alleged that plaintiff was an 'information pipeline' to terrorists, (c) asserted that plaintiff's work 'help[ed] encourage radicalization,' and (d) alleged that plaintiff 'escorted' terrorists into OHS.
"The Jawa Report alleged that plaintiff 'liked to have sex with pretty blond-haired, blue-eyed infidel coeds,' and labeled plaintiff 'a serial sexual harasser.'"
Alomari claims that defendant Sheets - a member of the Columbus Police Department's Terrorism Early Warning Group (TEWG) - organized a police training session on weapons of mass destruction and "included a photo of plaintiff and labeled plaintiff as a potential terrorist and/or stated that plaintiff had affiliations with terrorists and/or terrorist organizations."
Alomari claims that during a 2010 training session titled "Understanding the Threat to America," defendants "Coughlin, Guandolo and Poole accused plaintiff of being a 'suspect,' alleged that plaintiff used his position within OHS to 'connect with terrorists,' and promised to 'keep digging' into plaintiff's background to 'expose' him as a terrorist or terrorist sympathizer."
Alomari says he informed his supervisor of the remarks made at the training sessions, and after the assistant chief of police was contacted, the TEWG destroyed all of the documents bearing Alomari's name or picture.
Alomari seeks compensatory and punitive damages for invasion of privacy, tortious interference with business contract, negligent supervision and spoliation of evidence. He claims he lost his job with the OHS because of the false statements linking him with terrorists.
He is represented by Lauren Knoll, in Dublin, Ohio.