A retired farmer —Winston Marshall Carmichael (61) — came to the subcontinent four months ago on a religious tourism package to visit various mosques.
The father of 18 children, Carmichael was held at Indira Gandhi International Airport two days ago for carrying a knife in a shilajit (an ayurvedic herb) in his hand baggage.
He said he had used a portion of the rock and was taking the rest to the USA for his wife.
No charges were pressed against Carmichael on Friday, two days after he was detained.
In an interview with the Hindustan Times, he claimed one of his sons, Mustafa Abdul Rahim, was a famous decathlon athlete in the USA.
Before visiting the subcontinent, Carmichael told HT, he went on Haj to Mecca and Medina in September 2009.
His antecedents are being checked by the security agencies for possible “terror links”.
“I am an old man and walk with a cane. I embraced Islam when I was 23 years old. It was always my intention to visit the mosques in the Indian subcontinent. I was offered a package to visit various mosques as part of Tablighi Jamaat (a group that practices faith) four months ago,” said Carmichael, who once taught mathematics to school kids. “If I have been held here (in India), it must be by the willingness of god.”
Born to American parents, Carmichael bought a plot of land in Jamaica and was farming there. Four years ago, he shifted to New York in the US again.
“I have always taught my children that god is one. While one of them, Mustafa Abdul Rahim, carried the Olympic torch for the country last year, one of my daughters is a filmmaker, another son works at the Wall Street (the financial hub of the country),” said Carmichael.
Police said they were checking the antecedents and the purpose of Carmichael’s visit.
“He is a US citizen and we will take time to check his credentials. All the people he met in Delhi and in other parts of the country will also be questioned,” said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity.
“I was frightened with security people around me. The security officials were nonchalant and they did not handcuff me. They, however, forced me to sign some documents,” said Carmichael. “I was tired of answering questions again and again. Till now the authorities have not charged me with any offence.”
After completing haj, Carmichael came to Delhi from Abu Dhabi and stayed in the Hazrat Nizamuddin area of Delhi.
From here he went to Pakistan with a group of Indonesian travellers by a bus.
From Pakistan, he flew to Dhaka in Bangladesh and came back to Delhi via Kolkata. During his visits, Carmichael stayed at mosques.
He is lodged at the Lampur detention centre, run by the Foreigners Regional Registration Office in northwest Delhi.
“I was not here to radicalise the youth. The plan to visit the subcontinent was made 30 years ago. I don’t know any Headley, I have never seen a Headley,” said Carmichael on allegations that he was linked to David Coleman Headley who was arrested by the US agencies on charges of plotting 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.