The chairman of the board of trustees of the Islamic Society of Boston filed a defamation suit yesterday against the Boston Herald and WFXT-TV (Channel 25), marking the second time in three months an official of that group said he had been unfairly harmed by news reports linking him to terrorism. In the suit filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Osama Kandil, a biomedical researcher and a US citizen residing in Egypt, alleges that a series of Herald stories that began in October 2003 and a Channel 25 broadcast in November 2004 destroyed his reputation "by sensationalizing a story that Dr. Kandil . . . was linked to radical Islamic terrorists and that both he and the ISB [Islamic Society of Boston] presented a danger to the community." On Feb. 23, Dr. Yousef Abou-Allaban, chairman of the board of directors of the Islamic Society of Boston, sued Channel 25 for identifying him as a member of the terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood.
That suit alleged that the TV story was part of a pattern of anti-Muslim bias in the media. According to Kandil's suit, one crucial Herald story was a front-page article from Oct. 29, 2003, that reported the plaintiff was allegedly linked to a network suspected by investigators of supporting Islamic terrorists and that he was a leader of an Indiana-based group "known for its anti-Western rhetoric." The headline read: "Under Suspicion: Hub mosque leader tied to radical groups." A front-page Herald story on Jan. 14, 2004, reported that Kandil has "deeper involvement with organizations and individuals suspected of funding terrorism than previously disclosed." "I have taken the step of filing this lawsuit because the defendants' false reporting to the public that I am linked to or support terrorism or an anti-American agenda has unfairly destroyed my reputation," Kandil said in a statement made yesterday through his attorney Howard Cooper. "I am a faithful citizen of the United States, and I love this country and what it stands for . . . I believe in a moderate and tolerant Islam, and we at the Islamic Society of Boston have worked hard to make that our agenda in Boston." Spokeswomen for both the Herald and Channel 25 declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying they had not yet examined it.
Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based advocacy group, said yesterday that his organization was concerned about the depiction of Muslims in the US media. "Not speaking to the specifics of the case, unfortunately there is a growing cottage industry of those who seek to create false links between terrorism and American Muslim leaders and organizations," he said. "They got a boost in the post-9/11 era. . . . It's something American Muslims are learning to live with." (For more information, contact Kandil's attorney, Albert L. Farrah, Jr., at 617-742-7766.)