NEW YORK – Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are again
contacting Arab and Muslim Americans for what they describe as “voluntary
interviews,” as the Bush administration launches a new anti-terrorism
campaign designed to thwart efforts to disrupt the U.S. elections.
In conjunction with the FBI campaign, an agency of the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) is initiating a separate programme in major
metropolitan areas that will target Arab communities prior to the Nov. 2
According to the ‘Washington Post’, the campaign will probably include
rounding up and arresting hundreds of aliens from Middle Eastern and other
countries known to be havens for terrorists.
Human rights groups see the initiatives as repeats of the massive sweeps
carried out by the government immediately following the Sep. 11, 2001
attacks on New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon, operations that
reportedly netted more than 5,000 individuals.
The Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) says the DHS project “consists
of a stepped-up effort to arrest a number of non-citizens whose immigration
paperwork is ‘out of status’.”
The Washington, DC-based advocacy group says it is “troubled by the idea
that immigration sweeps are being portrayed by the Bush administration as
successes in the ‘war on terror’.”
“To date it is unclear whether the ICE initiative will be selectively
carried out against only Arabs and Muslims,” adds the ADC, repeating “its
strong objection to any selective enforcement initiative that is based
solely on race, national origin or religion.”
In September, DHS Secretary Tom Ridge told reporters al-Qaeda is continuing
to make plans to disrupt the election.
Attorney General John Ashcroft often uses high-profile press conferences to
announce arrests for alleged terror-related crimes. But such events are
rarely organised when these charges are dismissed or substantially reduced..