A Philadelphia native who wanted to study Islam was yanked off a Yemeni bus with five other Americans last month and has been detained there since, according to authorities.
LaToya Calloway-Gould, 34, of Reading, said that on July 30 the U.S. Embassy in Yemen notified her that her husband, Nasir Daymar Gould, 30, had been detained on July 27, six days after his arrival.
Gould, who grew up at 51st Street and Hazel Avenue, in West Philadelphia, was riding an intercity Yemeni bus from Sa'dah to Sana'a when it stopped at a security checkpoint and six Americans were taken into custody, his wife said.
"They told me there were no formal charges," Calloway-Gould said. "With their government, they do what they want to do, when they want to do it. Here, he has rights. Over there, there are no rights.
"He was pulled off the bus for nothing," she added.
A State Department spokeswoman said, "We are looking into the situation."
The State Department Web site warns U.S. citizens to "defer nonessential travel to Yemen. The security threat level remains high due to terrorist activities."
Gould said that her husband had planned the trip to Yemen for a year to study Islam and Arabic with an imam in Mabar. He wanted to extend his 30-day visa to six months.
His wife said the embassy contacted her a second time after a legal attache visited Gould in prison.
"He had not taken a shower," she said. "I'm glad he had money because he had to buy his own food. If he didn't have any money, they would give him vitamins.
"They confiscated his cell phone," she added. "I can't write to him. I can't talk to him.
"His son Nasir Jr. started eighth grade, and he's worrying about his dad being in prison in another country for no reason at all," she said.
In November 2006, he was released from state prison on drug-related charges, his wife said. Shortly after, Gould obtained a job at Giorgio Foods Inc., a food plant in Reading.
The couple, who have two sons, married a year ago.
Carla Gould, Gould's mother, said she was advised by the embassy to "be patient." She asked, "Why did they give him a visa if this happens all the time?
"Why'd they pick him up? The whole thing is just not right. And the embassy is giving me the runaround."
As a youth, Gould was in and out of jail, but his mother said he had turned his life around. Though his father was Muslim, he did not study Islam until his most recent jail term. After his release, he prayed regularly at the Germantown Masjid, in lower Germantown.
Attorney Tariq El-Shabazz, the managing director of the Germantown mosque, said that he did not know Gould.
"People don't understand the seriousness of traveling overseas right now," El-Shabazz said. "Yemen is on the hot list of the U.S. It doesn't make any sense going over there.
"A lot of people want to study and practice Islam and live in a country where they can speak Arabic," he said. "Go someplace that has a good relationship with the U.S."
But not in Yemen, he added. "How do you think he's going to get out?" *