CO: COLORADO ARAB-AMERICAN BRING CONCERNS
Arab-Americans and Muslims concerned about FBI efforts to recruit them as informants and other tactics designed to prevent terrorism plan to meet today with U.S. Attorney Troy Eid.
Among issues they say they want addressed:
FBI pressure on Arab-Americans and Muslims to work as informants – reporting what friends say and do.
Federal authorities’ intervening in local court cases against people with Mideast and South Asian ties.
Clear criteria for placing people on government terrorist watch lists and removing names in case of mistakes.
“We try to say: ‘You are in America, a different society from the one you came from that had secret police who could take you away,”‘ said Djilali Kacem, executive director of the Colorado chapter of the Muslim American Society and imam at a Northglenn mosque.
But visits by FBI agents and alleged random security searches at airports leave newcomers from the Mideast and elsewhere skeptical, Kacem said.
“They tell (immigrants): ‘If you will help us, we will help you get the green card.”‘
When FBI agents visited Palestinian-American Zuhair Mahd, a computer programmer who moved to the U.S. as a teenager, “They put the pitch: ‘There are bad people in the community. Sept. 11 was a bad thing. Would you be willing to serve as a source for us or report to us about suspicious or bad people in the community?”‘ Mahd said.
Mahd, now 33, refused, telling the agents, “I don’t like to fill in the blanks when I don’t know the full story,” he said. Now he reckons his refusals are “a driving factor” in FBI delays approving a security background check that has stalled his otherwise-approved citizenship application.