Press Releases

Alert: Reports of FBI Visits Prompt Reminder of Legal Rights

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 1/20/10) — The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) said today that CAIR offices nationwide have received reports that FBI agents, along with local law enforcement officers, are visiting and interviewing Muslim students and participants in a recent Islamic educational seminar in connection with an ongoing investigation.
American Muslims strongly support law enforcement and the protection of our national security. As Americans, we also value the civil rights of every individual. All Americans have the constitutional right of due process and to be politically active.
If you know of any criminal activity taking place in your community, it is both your religious and civic duty to immediately report such activity to local and federal law enforcement agencies.
Considering recent events, and the increase in FBI/Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF, including officers from the Department of Homeland Security and local police or sheriff departments) related incidents reported to our office, it is important that Muslims understand their rights when visited by FBI/JTTF at their home or workplace:
1) Understand that your providing information to the FBI/JTTF, absent a subpoena, is strictly voluntary. You are not obligated under law to answer any of their questions, other than giving your name and sometimes your address.
2) You may choose to have an attorney accompany or represent you for any interview or questioning. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney regarding the risks and benefits of being interviewed by law enforcement in your specific case.
3) If an FBI/JTTF agent shows up at your residence or workplace, and they do not have a search or arrest warrant and absent exigent circumstances, you do not have to let them in.
4) If they do have an arrest or search warrant, you may exercise your right to remain silent. Comply with all directives and do not physically resist an officer. Be polite and respectful at all times.
5) If an agent or officer says they have some questions for you, you have the right to refuse to speak to them and/or you may tell the agents or officers that you will have your attorney contact them if they wish to speak to you.
6) Note that anything you say to an agent or officer can be used against you in a court of law, and lying to an agent or officer is considered perjury and is a criminal offense.
7) Should you decide to speak to agents alone despite the risks, note that you may set the conditions of the interview, including choosing when and where the interview is to take place, having a third party present such as a family member or community leader, and deciding what questions to answer, and refusing to sign any documents. You may cancel the interview at any time.
8) Get the names, agencies, badge numbers, and business cards of ALL agents or officers.
9) Contact your attorney and CAIR to report the interview/incident and to discuss next steps. If you feel that your civil rights were violated, you may also file a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
1. “FBI Interviews: Knowing the law can protect you” by Ahilan Arulanantham and Ranjana Natarajan. InFocus News.
2. “Got Rights: Protect yourself and your family at home and at the airport” a video by Muslim Advocates.
3. To file a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
[Please note: This above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Should you have any questions about the material herein or about a specific case, please consult with your attorney.]
CONTACT: CAIR-Greater Los Angeles Area Communications Manager Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847 or 714 -851-4851, E-mail:


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