Oops, I guess You’re Not Really a Terrorist

A Milwaukee-based petroleum company filed a defamation lawsuit against the parent company of Fond du Lac’s daily newspaper last week on claims an article published in July wrongly inferred a connection with Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists and damaged its business.

“According to the civil complaint, a newspaper reporter attributed false statements to a Department of Homeland Security official regarding former Fond du Lac resident and gas station owner Faryad Hussain. The Pakistani man had been deported after running a marriage scam, and the North Main Street Citgo station attained new ownership. AAP Petroleum leases and operates the business.

Senior Special Agent Jeff Stillings was attributed in the newspaper as believing Hussain “to be one of the plotters of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and an agent for Osama bin Laden.” The newspaper the next day reported from a statement issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that the agent actually referred to Hussain as “an applauder.”

The July 28 article included a photograph of the gas station. Its caption included the address of the store, information on Hussain and said the store is “now under new ownership.”

The complaint states that references to Hussain as a terrorist, a plotter or an agent of bin Laden are false and defamatory, and that AAP Petroleum was also defamed due to the proximity of the Citgo photograph to the article.”