NEWARK, N.J. — When a respected elder in Paterson’s Muslim community was detained at an airport in Dubai for a reason authorities wouldn’t tell him, he took out his cell phone and started dialing.
But Mohamed Younes wasn’t calling his embassy, his travel agent or his wife. Instead, he called John Paige, a good friend who was the supervisory special agent at the FBI’s West Paterson office.
Paige didn’t know exactly why Younes had been flagged at the airport last December, but offered to get on the phone with officials in the United Arab Emirates and vouch for Younes’ integrity. Younes was grateful, but declined the offer.
“Who would believe I really had the FBI on the phone?” he asked.
Anyone who knows Paige would believe it. The 26-year FBI veteran has worked tirelessly to build bridges to New Jersey’s Muslim community.
It is a closeness that will serve him well in his new job as deputy director of the state Office of Homeland Security. Paige will handle operations and intelligence matters for the department, reporting to Director Richard Canas.