A man and a woman from Oklahoma say they were thrown out of an Arkansas mall and branded "terrorists" because they're Muslim converts who wear traditional Islamic clothing.
Alan Crawford was wearing an Islamic tunic called a dishdasha, and Daphne Ridenour was wearing a headscarf when they were walking through Central Mall in Fort Smith, Arkansas, on Dec. 19, RT reported. Crawford said he and Ridenour were with their young son near the mall's food court when police officers came up to them and escorted them out of the mall.
“What crime I committed, I don't know,” Crawford, who reportedly goes by Omar Usman Khalid, told KFSM, according to RT. “I wasn't aware that police officers show up five at a time to enforce mall law. If you want me to leave, I will leave happily.”
But police and mall security said they were prompted to confront Crawford after other shoppers saw the Muslim convert filming other shoppers as well as store entrances. Crawford and his wife were not breaking any laws, Fort Smith police said, but they did violate mall policy. Signs posted at the mall's entrances outline a code of conduct, which prohibits filming inside the mall.
An Arkansas man named Cory Milligan posted photos of officers escorting Crawford and Ridenour out of the mall to Facebook on Dec. 19 with the caption: "Cops escorting terrorists from the mall." The post had been shared more than 1,000 times by Dec. 23.
Ridenour and Crawford were apparently on local police departments' radar: A leaked internal memo from the nearby Muldrow Police Department includes photographs of Crawford and Ridenour, and says the husband and wife issued a "credible threat to do something to make 'national news.'"
The internal memo tells officers to keep an eye out for Crawford or Ridenour at local memorial services, presumably for victims of the Dec. 2 San Bernardino, California attacks. The memo does not go into detail regarding the alleged threat.
Sgt. Daniel Grubbs of the Fort Smith Police Department told the NY Daily News that Crawford, believed to be a recent convert to Islam, has caught the attention of police in the past, and was uncooperative when police asked him for identification at the mall.
"You can take race, religion and sex out of the equation," Grubbs told the Daily News. "Any suspicious activity, you encourage citizens to come forward with it."
A reporter for KFSM asked Crawford if he was planning a terror attack.
"I probably would absolutely destroy a bacon cheeseburger or some fries with bacon on them, something like that," Crawford said. "But really, I mean, two weeks before this we went to the mall ... we ate a load of bacon cheese fries, which ISIS would happily kill me for. Because I've read my book, I'm not supposed to eat bacon, and I did it anyway."