If memory serves, the police captain met me over coffee on a Wednesday night in October 2001, when the world was dizzy with menace. He passed along word of a fresh worry. A young Muslim chemist, who worked in an advanced biochemistry laboratory in Midtown, had vanished on the morning of Sept. 11. Because he had once been a member of a police cadet program, he had an ID card that gave him access to police facilities. His name was Mohammad Salman Hamdani, and the captain had just been faxed a flier about him.
On it, next to a picture of Mr. Hamdani, 23, in cadet uniform, were a few handwritten notes, including: “Hold and detain. Notify: major case squad.” By the next morning, versions of the flier had arrived in police station houses across the city. Investigators had already gone through Mr. Hamdani’s computer at his family’s home. They confiscated a picture from the refrigerator door that showed him with a student from Afghanistan.
One newspaper asked, “Missing or Hiding?” I wrote a short article that was headlined, “Absent Police Cadet Sought After Disappearance.” It was factually impeccable. Also, cosmically false.
On Tuesday morning, nearly a decade later, the Salman Hamdani memorial scholarship was awarded to Anam Ahmed, a senior graduating from Queens College and heading for medical school. In the true arc of Mr. Hamdani’s life, any association with his name is a high honor.