FBI agents are knocking on doors of Valley Muslims asking questions aimed
at detecting and deterring terrorism before Wednesday's presidential debate
at Arizona State University and the Nov. 2 election, say Islamic and civil
"They want to leave no stone unturned," said Deedra Abboud, executive
director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Arizona.
"And they want to make sure nothing disrupts the election . . . But it does
concern us because it's against the American way, and it's a waste of their
Agents across the nation have been instructed to "foster the impression
that law enforcement is focused on individuals who might be a threat,"
according to the FBI's so-called "October Plan," which was disclosed when
CBS News obtained an e-mail from the bureau's "04 Threat Task Force."
Special agent Susan Herskovits, an FBI spokeswoman in Phoenix, said they
are not only interviewing Muslims. She declined to describe how subjects
are chosen except to say, "We have not been sent a list. We've been sent a
directive to talk to as many people as we can about a potential al-Qaida
attack between now and the election."
The scenario was described by Abboud this way:
A pair of agents come to the front door and ask to chat. They don't allow a
friend, lawyer or tape recorder during the interview. But it's completely
voluntary and informal. Just a few questions:
Who are your friends?
How do you feel about the Bush administration?
What do you think of U.S. foreign policy in Israel?
Would you become a confidential informant?
Herskovits emphasized that those contacted by agents are not necessarily
viewed with suspicion, but as potential information sources. She said there
are no formatted questions, and anyone may decline to be interviewed…
David Hadley, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of the East Valley, said
he and others recently dined together after completing a fast. A few days
later, he said, FBI agents called one of his meal companions and asked by
name about those who attended the event. "I couldn't figure out how they
knew we were there," said Hadley.
Abboud said some of those contacted by the FBI face a chilling dilemma:
Cooperate and risk falling under suspicion because of "wrong" answers, or
decline the interview and worry about being put on a watch list or harassed..