The FBI wants to interview 44 area Muslims for any information they have
that might help authorities uncover a possible terrorist attack targeting
the Nov. 2 presidential election. Agents are conducting similar interviews
The FBI told the Islamic Council of Greater Pittsburgh last week that the
44 Muslims are not being investigated for any crime, according to a council
advisory. However, those who have violated a visa can be arrested and
Muslim leaders said they were told that about 30 people face deportation,
but they don't know how many violators are on the FBI interview list.
A Pittsburgh civil rights lawyer who participated in Oct. 4 talks between
the council and the FBI said Islamic leaders are concerned the government
is adopting heavy-handed tactics that could backfire.
"There's concern nationwide that the war on terror could turn into a war on
dissidence, that people will be detained without cause," said Witold "Vic"
Walczak, legal director for the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Civil
FBI officials and U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan discussed with Islamic
council leaders their plans for the interviews.
"We reached out to them to let them know what's going on and that we're not
going behind their backs," said FBI Special Agent William Crowley, a
spokesman for the agency's Pittsburgh office, who declined to say if any
interviews have taken place or what type of information the FBI is seeking.
He also would not say how the 44 Muslims were selected.
Islamic Council President Clifton Slater and Nusrath Ainapore, outreach
director at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, where the meeting took place,
declined to speak with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The advisory urged
area Muslims to know their legal rights.
"If you are approached by the FBI, you may refuse to be interviewed. If you
choose to be interviewed, we strongly urge you to obtain a lawyer before
the interview," the advisory said.
"The Islamic Council of Pittsburgh does not condone terrorism, and if these
interviews will help prevent it, we will certainly help, but we will use
all the means at our disposal to protect the civil rights of all Muslims
under the laws and the Constitution of the U.S.," the council advisory