U.S. Secret Service officers yesterday arrested 27 persons outside the residence of the Saudi Arabian ambassador during a protest over the alleged arrest by Saudi military of an American Muslim two weeks ago.
About 60 Muslim worshippers staged the demonstration outside the house, contending that Saudi officials have refused to cooperate in attempts to locate an Oxon Hill man they said has not returned from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
The protesters, who worship at the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue NW, contend that Abdur Rasheed, 30, also known as Steven Williams, of 713 Marcy Ave., Oxon Hill, was arrested Sept. 30 by Saudi Arabian soldiers while on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
According to Mohamud Yusef, a friend who had accompanied Williams, the American was taken into custody in the hills outside of Mecca. Yusef, who subsequently returned to Washington, said that the last time he saw Williams was on Oct. 3, outside the house in Mecca where the two men had been staying.
Yusef said Williams was driven away in a jeep by three Saudi Arabian soldiers who said they were taking him to the airport for his return to the United States. Williams' family said he was scheduled to arrive here Oct. 4, but has not been seen.
Williams' wife Marilyn said State Department officials told her on Thursday that they could find no record of Williams' arrest. Williams, the father of four children, now has lost his job at a car wash here, according to his brother, Dorthan.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Marjorie S. Holt (R-Md.) said that Holt has expressed to the State Department her interest in her constituent's fate, and expects Monday to hear the result of new inquiries made by the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia.
Muslims who were involved in the protest have been in contact with the Saudi Arabian Embassy in an attempt to obtain information about Williams' whereabouts, according to a member of the Islamic Center, Mohamed Sidiq. But on Wednesday an embassy official told them that the embassy did not know anything about the Williams' case.
After prayers yesterday at the Center, some Muslims decided to go to the residence of the ambassador, Sheikh Faisal Alhegelan, to try to obtain additional information from him, Sidiq said.
The protestors were arrested and taken to the Second District police station, where they were charged with unlawful entry. Police said the protesters were being held overnight pending arraignment this morning.