One Year Later
By Jamie Reno
(page 1 of 3)Randy Hamud is a civil rights attorney and chair of the Arab-American Advisory Board for the San Diego Police Department who worked on Susan Golding’s mayoral campaigns and co-owns the Canyonside Stables in Rancho Peñasquitos. Abdoussattar Shaikh, cofounder of the Islamic Center of San Diego in Clairemont and a retired San Diego State University English teacher, is an affable, soft-spoken man who has lived in San Diego 42 years.
Both are proud Americans, proud Muslims and respected civic leaders. Hamud and Shaikh, who each profess a deep love for this city’s lifestyle and for this country’s justice system, are fairly typical San Diegans. But the lives of these two longtime locals have changed dramatically since September 11, 2001.
Hamud represented three local college students who knew the hijackers. He was recently hired as the attorney of record for the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker.” And Shaikh befriended and housed two of the men who would later become known to the world as terrorists.
Inextricably linked to the tragic events of last fall and, as a result, to each other, Shaikh and Hamud—who’ve never met but express mutual admiration—sat with San Diego Magazine, separately, and talked publicly for the first time about how their worlds have changed since 9/11.
The 56-year-old Hamud was born and raised in Los Angeles, graduated from UCLA law school in 1970, was a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles and has practiced law for more than 30 years. A vehement opponent of the Vietnam War in the ’60s who was on the front lines in the civil rights movement in that era, Hamud worked on former Mayor Golding’s first mayoral run and was a high-ranking member of Ross Perot’s first presidential campaign staff here until, he says, “Ross got a little flaky.”
About six years ago, Hamud—who respects the American cowboy values of loyalty and integrity and favors black cowboy boots and a Stetson hat—got interested in country dancing and horses and became a co-owner of San Diego’s Canyonside Stables.
For all his activities, Hamud, who has focused his practice on medical malpractice suits, was not a “name” in the area until he took as clients three San Diego college students who had been detained as material witnesses in the post-9/11 terrorism probe. More recently, and even more controversially, Hamud was hired by Aicha El-Wafi, the mother of Moussaoui, who authorities say would have been on one of those planes last September 11 if he hadn’t been in custody.
Since his first press conference last September 24, Hamud has been a familiar voice on local and national television news, criticizing the government’s tactics in the war on terrorism. He’s a regular on news talk programs like Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor.