Federal law enforcement officers met with a group of Arab American leaders today to combat rumors the FBI is forcing people of Middle Eastern ties to work as informants.
Over the past six months, the rumors have intensified that FBI agents are coercing people across the country to spy for the agency at mosques and other meeting places where Arab Americans and Muslims gather.
But Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit office, said the rumors are not true during the meeting, which was held at the Lebanese American Heritage Club.
"I have no legal right to just send informants into a mosque, Catholic church or Jewish synagogue. We don't do that."
Arena said the FBI, like all law enforcement agencies, do use informants but said the government is not targeting people for investigations simply because they may be Muslim or Arab.
Arena said his office has not received any complaints and he believes the rumors are a matter of perception and not fact.
However, many of the people gathered at the meeting said they have been contacted by numerous people who believe this is true but are too frightened to come forward for fear of retribution. (More)