Poison Pen Letter: Chicago Man Arrested for Sending HIV-Positive Letter to President Obama

225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obama Saad Hussein, an Ethiopian immigrant in Chicago, has been arrested for allegedly sending Obama and his staff envelopes containing HIV-infected blood. This is the second time that someone has been charged with sending tainted blood in the mail with malicious intent. What is interesting about these crimes is the fact that there is virtually no chance of actual harm.

Hussein’s envelope contained a letter reddish stains and an admission ticket for Obama’s election-night celebration in Chicago’s Grant Park. Hussein admitted to the FBI that he is “very sick with HIV” and cut his fingers with a razor to bleed on the letter. Hussein has a history of mental illness.

Hazmat teams were called in to deal with the letter, though it is hard to imagine how someone could become HIV Positive by touching a small smudge of dried blood.
Hussein also allegedly placed two more letters in the mail, one addressed to “Emanuel,” an apparent reference to Obama’s current Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. The two letters contained what appeared to be dried blood, the court documents said.

There is no question of the need for a criminal charge, though insanity appears to be a defense. The question is how to handle the factual risk presented in such letters. Hussein was charged with “knowingly” mailing letters “containing HIV-infected blood, with the intent to kill or injure another,” in violation of federal law.

Hussein has never held a job in the United States and he was arrested by police in 2006 after starting a fire in the middle of a Chicago intersection while screaming “Allah Akbar,” or “God is Great” in Arabic.

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