Young couple's hoax leads to stiff fine

BY DIANA WALLACE Staff Writer Daily Herald

When Syed Abbas learned his son was romantically involved with a young woman at Benedictine University, he made it clear he did not approve.

The woman's family disapproved, too, he said, because her family was from a different Muslim sect.

The elder Abbas, though, said he wanted his son to focus on school before thinking about marriage.

But he intervened too late, Syed Abbas said. "Things had already gone too far."

So far, authorities say, that 20-year-old Murtaza Abbas of Bloomingdale and his friend, 18-year-old Sana Siddiqui of Naperville, carried out a hoax on April 4 in which Siddiqui pretended to be attacked on campus and Abbas posed as her savior.

The couple "planned for him to be a hero, and show her parents he was worthy of her," Syed Abbas said.

"This was my son's stupidity," Abbas added. "I'm still burning inside from this."

Monday, the young couple each pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. They were sentenced to three months of court supervision and ordered to pay $6,250 in restitution, mainly police costs, for the hoax.

The two also were expelled from the Lisle college last week after the assault was determined to be a ruse.

Though the couple could have been jailed, the school agreed to the terms of the sentence because neither defendant had a criminal history, said Laura Pollastrini, spokeswoman for the DuPage County state's attorney.

A man who answered the phone at the Siddiqui residence in Naperville declined to comment or confirm Syed Abbas' account.

Abbas had praised his son Murtaza after finding out he repelled attackers of a young woman on campus. The incident even prompted school officials to heighten security around campus.

But when it became clear the authorities were onto them, the younger Abbas confessed to his father.

"They didn't know it's not that easy to lie," Syed Abbas said. "I was shaking, I was so upset."

Still, Abbas said, the expulsion was too harsh a punishment. His son has written "very apologetic letters" to police and school authorities.

Syed Abbas described his son, a Glenbard North High School graduate, as a good student who was studying chemical engineering and planned to transfer next semester to the Illinois Institute of Technology. Before his expulsion, he was to be inducted into the physics honor society last Sunday.

His father said his family wants to put the incident behind them and get Murtaza back on track with his schooling.

Siddiqui received permission from the court Monday to leave the county and go to India, reportedly to pursue medical studies.

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