For months, Sacramento's top FBI agent kept a Muslim prayer rug in his office. It was for Imam Mohamed Abdul Azeez, religious leader of the SALAM Islamic Center in Sacramento, who attended a citizens' academy with Drew Parenti at the FBI office.
Parenti hasn't converted to Islam. He's been trying to convert Muslim leaders who might be suspicious of his agency after 9/11 and the Lodi terrorism case. And, after years of distrust, Azeez and other local Muslims believe they have found a friend in Parenti.
The local FBI chief has visited several of the area's 14 mosques, ready to answer tough questions. He also has recruited an Egyptian Muslim agent who is known to the community and worships regularly at SALAM (Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims) and other local mosques…
What's different is the FBI interaction with the community, said Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group.
"We're receiving fewer complaints because the FBI's approaching community members with more respect," Elkarra said. "Things have gotten a lot better."
Today, said Sacramento CAIR founder Rashid Ahmad, his group trusts the FBI will follow up reported hate crimes or vandalism at mosques. (Full Story)