I woke up early on Sept. 12, 2001, to get ready for work. I put on my best suit, my only custom-made shirt, my most expensive Nordstrom tie. I shined my shoes. I was tense and nervous and did not know what to expect from my co-workers. I had, by chance, been off duty the day before, the day of the horrific attacks on the United States, and of course by late evening on Sept. 11, the names of the suspected hijackers began to come out. All were Arabic or Muslim names like mine.
Since January 2000, I had been assigned to the most important division in the U.S. Secret Service: the Presidential Protective Division, commonly known as PPD. I held a top-secret clearance, reported to the White House daily, and traveled routinely on Air Force One or Marine One with the president. I loved the experience. I had never felt discriminated against at work or socially, except for a few "terrorist" jokes. I was a welcomed and trusted member of the division.
Sept. 12 was different, though. Nineteen men had killed close to 3,000 Americans the day before in the name of my religion.