CHARLOTTE — As early as this week, the FBI will begin interviewing Muslims
across the Carolinas as part of what the agency says is a nationwide push
to stave off a terrorist attack before the November elections.
Muslims aren’t the only ones who will be questioned in the effort,
officials say. But they are the only group in Charlotte being contacted
about the interviews ahead of time.
Local Muslims say the interviews again show how they’ve been singled out
since the 9-11 attacks. Last year, immigrants from countries linked to
terrorists were fingerprinted and questioned as part of a “special
registration” effort. Many say they were interviewed by the FBI after the
Sept. 11 attacks. About 8,000 Muslims live in the Charlotte area.
Last Saturday, Kevin Kendrick, FBI special agent in charge for North
Carolina, gathered 40 to 50 Charlotte-area Muslim leaders to alert them to
the interviews. Similar meetings are taking place across the state,
Contacted by The Charlotte Observer, Kendrick would not say whether the
questioning had started or how long the effort will last. He wouldn’t say
what questions will be asked, how the agency will choose the people to
interview, or how many people will be questioned. He did say agents will
try to hold the interviews at their subjects’ homes, but would not rule out
One man who attended Saturday’s meeting said Kendrick told them the visits
would start this week.
Area Muslims are reacting with anger and frustration.
“We’re trying to say, The people that you’re looking for are not the people
that we know,'” said Rose Hamid, a member of Muslim Women of the Carolinas
who attended Saturday’s meeting. “The people who come to the mosque on
Fridays are not the ones who are going to be doing these things.”
Hamid said she worries that Muslims may lose their jobs if FBI agents or
police approach them at work.
Since 9-11, local FBI officials have met several times with local Muslims
to forge a better relationship. Still, tension remains..