Seattle Times – Oct. 1, 2004
Muslim, Arab leaders warned of terror checks
By Sara Jean Green
Federal officials warned local Muslim and Arab leaders last night that they should brace their communities for another round of intelligence-gathering interviews in the run-up to the November election.
The purpose of the 90-minute, closed-door meeting with about 17 Seattle-area leaders was to solicit their help and to assure them that the Justice Department and FBI will protect their civil rights and will aggressively investigate any reports of hate crimes.
Muslim and Arab leaders said their communities would cooperate, but they're frustrated and worried about being singled out.
Though the FBI hasn't received any specific threats nationally, "... the information since May has indicated al-Qaida would like to commit a terrorist attack against our country," likely during the elections, said
Pat Adams, the agent in charge of the Seattle FBI. All 56 FBI offices in the country are holding similar meetings with their local Muslim and Arab leaders, he said.
In the weeks before the general election, FBI agents will be conducting "interviews of people who may be able to fill intelligence gaps ... and [will] talk to people who may have knowledge of people bent on [committing] terrorist attacks," Adams said. "We want to make sure the community knows we're not targeting communities or religions - we're targeting individuals and terrorists."
John McKay, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, said last night's meeting was part of an effort to reach out to Seattle's Muslim and Arab communities. Leaders told him last night, for instance, that FBI agents need to be sensitive about visiting Muslim homes during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins in mid-October.
The community leaders who gathered at the Islamic School in Seattle's Central District "offered assistance and have an absolute commitment to keep people safe," McKay said. "Our job in the federal government is to protect civil liberties and prevent hate crimes. We're reaching out to be available ... if there is some sort of retaliation" against Muslims and Arabs.
Miami Herald – Oct. 1, 2004
U.S. targets visa violators in terror war
By Curt Anderson
WASHINGTON - More than 350 people who have committed crimes or are suspected of terrorist links have been arrested in a federal crackdown on foreigners with visa violations, part of a broader effort to prevent al-Qaida from disrupting U.S. elections.
Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a Homeland Security Department component known as ICE, are matching identities of visa violators nationwide with names on secret government terrorism databases in hopes of finding al-Qaida operatives.
"We're intensifying it in the days leading up to the election," ICE spokesman Dean Boyd said Friday.
Some groups representing Muslims and Arab-Americans are concerned some people may be targeted because of their ethnicity or religious beliefs.
"If somebody breaks the law in terms of their immigration status, they should pay the price," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "We can only hope they are not targeting people based on whether they are Muslim."
Since its inception in June 2003, ICE's Compliance Enforcement Unit has opened more than 5,200 investigations of visa violators nationwide. Of those apprehended, 359 are considered "priority arrests" - those with possible links to terrorism or known criminal histories.
The stepped-up initiative is one of many government efforts given new urgency by persistent intelligence indicating al-Qaida is determined to attack inside the United States before the Nov. 2 election…
Advocates for Muslims and Arab-Americans don't fault the government for pursuing people in the United States illegally. But they say the FBI and ICE efforts, taken together, are triggering renewed fears that U.S. counterterrorism officials are targeting people based on their religion or ethnic or national origin.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said in a statement that it had been contacted by ICE officials after raising concerns that the initiative "will be selectively carried out against Muslims and Arabs."
Even after those talks, the group said it remained worried ICE would base many of its investigations on a government registry of men from 24 mostly Muslim and Arab countries.
Advocacy groups also raised concerns about the FBI interviews. They say agents appear to be targeting some people multiple times.
Detroit Free Press – Oct. 1, 2004
Immigrants focus of security plan
By Niraj Warikoo
As the presidential election approaches, federal agents in Michigan and across the country are ratcheting up their efforts to catch illegal immigrants who may pose security threats. Immigration officials said Thursday they are moving to interview, survey and analyze records that might help them thwart a terrorist attack in upcoming months.
"We know that terrorists look for symbolic events ... for the biggest impact," said Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of investigations in Michigan and Ohio for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "This time period is a crucial one."
Among the events coming up, Moskowitz said, are the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meeting this weekend in Washington, D.C., the Nov. 2 election, the holidays and the presidential inauguration.
"As you get closer to a period, which by everyone's account is a dangerous time, everything comes into focus," said Moskowitz, whose agency is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. "Our senses are heightened."
Moskowitz and Daniel Roberts, head of the Detroit FBI office, have assured Imad Hamad, an Arab-American leader in Dearborn, that the government would not unfairly target the Middle Eastern community.
Hamad, regional director of the Michigan chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said he has no problem with the crackdown on illegal immigration. But he worries that the plan will result in the profiling of Arab Americans and Muslims, as past government initiatives did after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"This brings a chilling effect on the community," Hamad said. "It has the potential for creating false impressions again, putting us under clouds of suspicion." In addition, Hamad said, the initiative would alienate Arab-American communities at a time when they are needed to help the government in the war on terrorism. "This will not help people to cooperate when it is highly needed," he said...
Detroit News – Oct. 1, 2004
FBI agents hunt for terror leads
By David Shepardson
FBI agents stepped up dozens of interviews this week in Arab-American neighborhoods, in an effort to prevent another terrorist attack before the Nov. 2 election, the bureau said Thursday.
Arab-American civil rights leaders are warning community members that they don't have to submit to door-to-door interviews by the Detroit FBI, and advising them to have a lawyer present if they choose.
"We are out in the community conducting our interviews as part of our continuing investigation," said FBI Special Agent Dawn Clenney, a spokeswoman in Detroit. "We're redoubling our efforts. We are very concerned about preventing any terrorist attacks and we know al-Qaida wants to attack us before the election."
The checks have the Arab-American and Muslim communities concerned.
"Already people are very scared and very intimidated," said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He expressed concern that Arabs who have overstayed their visas will be targeted for arrest….
ACLU Press Release – Oct. 1, 2004
ACLU decries planned election dragnet
in Muslim and Arab communities
NEW YORK, Oct. 1, 2004 -- The American Civil Liberties Union today said that it will be monitoring a new plan by the FBI to, among other things, use "aggressive - even obvious - surveillance" techniques on individuals who are not even suspected of having committed a crime, in advance of the November 2 general election.
"The FBI plans to deliberately tail people based on their religion or ethnic origin during a month that is both religiously and politically crucial," said Dalia Hashad, the ACLU's Arab, Muslim and South Asian Advocate. "Instead of bolstering security, the FBI's 'October Plan' is going to stop Muslims and Arabs from attending mosques during the month of Ramadan, and participating in the upcoming election."
An internal e-mail notice to FBI agents, distributed last week by the bureau's "'04 Threat Task Force," described an intensified law enforcement effort to "to foster the impression that law enforcement is focused on individuals who may be a threat."
According to CBS News, the plan calls for the aggressive and open surveillance of persons suspected of being terrorist sympathizers, but who are not suspected of any crime. CBS also reported that mosques will be revisited and worshippers questioned. Already, ACLU affiliates are fielding calls from Muslims panicked by aggressive FBI action.
Over the past three years, Middle Eastern and South Asian neighborhoods and communities have borne the brunt of the federal government's response to 9/11. Directly after the attacks, more than a thousand, and possibly upwards of 2,000 men were rounded up secretly by the Justice Department only to be later found to have no connection to the attacks.
The "October Plan" is the fifth incidence of an explicit FBI dragnet, targeted at American Muslims and Arabs. Previously, the FBI launched four separate rounds of questioning, which routinely involved interrogating interviewees with questions about their religious practices and political beliefs. In many of the interviews, the FBI actually collected information about interviewee's associational activity, including copying the data from cell phone contact lists.
In monitoring the program, the ACLU is working closely with Amnesty International, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Arab-American Institute, Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
"This program is not good law enforcement," Hashad said. "If finding a terrorist is like looking for a needle in a haystack, you don't make the job easier by adding more hay to the pile."
MPAC Press Release – Sept. 30, 2004
Pre-election terrorist threats and
"sweeps" threaten our country
(Los Angeles, 9/30/04) – Recent media reports indicate that agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are expected to intensify their efforts to arrest as many as 2,000 "out of status" non-citizens in anticipation of possible election-related Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks. In talks with government officials, MPAC has ascertained that such arrests conducted in the coming weeks will have less to do with averting an "impending" terrorist plot than with ICE's efforts to collect vast amounts of information from individuals detained for immigration violations.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council fears that legitimate efforts to arrest, convict and punish terrorists will be undermined by the severe lack of legal transparency and due process that have characterized counterterrorism efforts carried out since 9/11 by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. Targeting out-of-status immigrants with no known relationship to the Al-Qaeda terrorist plots is an ill-advised move that will serve to implicate countless innocent persons rather than to protect our country from real security threats. A more effective method of gathering information from non-citizens is through outreach to communities through open forums, such as townhall meetings. Such public efforts would result in credible information, while reducing the possibility of individuals offering false information in an attempt to expedite their release from law enforcement custody.
A well-reasoned and successful approach to protecting national security would capitalize on the expertise of American Muslims, who maintain their stiff opposition to terrorism at home and abroad. Islam's zero-tolerance policy against terrorism is clear, consistent and sourced in the Qur'an and authentic traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). MPAC works to bolster the Islamic identity of moderates and challenge the legitimacy of those who defame the name and reputation of Islam for ideological or financial gain. While MPAC supports all counterterrorism law enforcement activities enacted pursuant to the limits of the Constitution and related laws, it is imperative that all terrorism suspects are transparently investigated, charged and tried with all applicable due process rights.
In response to Attorney General John Ashcroft's May 26th announcement that officials had received intelligence that Al-Qaeda preparations for a pre-elections terrorist plot were 80-90 percent complete, MPAC launched its National Grassroots Campaign to Fight Terrorism. The national campaign has been fully endorsed by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Among other goals, the Campaign educates American Muslims on the strong Islamic stance against terrorism and offers tools for Islamic Institutions to maintain legitimacy through financial transparency. To date, over 100 mosques have joined the Campaign, making it a national endeavor that deserves public support from the Attorney General and national law enforcement agencies.
While it is important to fight terrorism, it is just as important to prevent fueling the fires of ignorance and hatred by negligently tarnishing reputations. MPAC does not support instituting policies or supporting law enforcement activities that infuse needless fears in the hearts of Americans. It is detrimental to our nation's counterterrorism efforts to feign immigration sweeps as successes in the war on terrorism, or to target innocents not suspected of criminal activity for the purpose of intelligence gathering. MPAC opposes such politicization and calls upon all law enforcement agencies to maintain strict professionalism and focus. We must defend our country, and defending the Constitution is the first line of our defense.
[For more information about MPAC's National Grassroots Campaign to Fight Terrorism, visit www.mpac.org]
ADC Press Release – Sept. 30, 2001
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Plans Immigration Sweeps
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has confirmed through federal government sources that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has initiated, or soon will initiate, specific enforcement actions in major metropolitan areas prior to the November 2nd Presidential election. This new ICE initiative is supposedly separate from the recent ADC alert about the voluntary interviews being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI.) However, ADC has confirmed that ICE's enforcement action is in fact, being carried out in conjunction with the FBI's latest initiative.
The ICE initiative consists of a stepped up effort to arrest a number of non-citizens whose immigration paperwork is “out of status.” While ADC encourages and supports all measures to enhance our nation’s security, ADC is troubled by the idea that immigration sweeps are being portrayed as successes in the war on terror. To date it is unclear whether the ICE initiative will be selectively carried out against Arabs and
Muslims. ADC reiterates its strong objection to any selective enforcement initiative that is based solely on race, national origin, or religion.
Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ICE have failed to reach out to community leaders to communicate this matter or to address our concerns. This initiative damages efforts made at cooperating with the Arab-American community. ADC has actively worked to build bridges with multiple levels of law enforcement and the community through its successful national Law Enforcement Outreach Program (LEOP) and the ADC Michigan office's outreach program BRIDGES.
Furthermore, ADC, which is nonpartisan, hopes this ICE initiative will not be perceived by the community as intimidation to US citizens who may be relatives of those subjected to the enforcement action and may inhibit these citizens from voting, especially those newly registered to vote.
ADC suggests you contact the White House and the Department of Homeland Security to relay your concern and opposition to this new ICE initiative.
ADC Press Release - September 30, 2004
ICE Responds to ADC's Concerns
On September 30, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) raised concerns about the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) latest initiative. ICE has responded by releasing the following statement:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. As part of its homeland security mission, ICE seeks to maintain the integrity of the immigration system through effective enforcement of our immigration laws. ICE also seeks to protect the homeland by targeting immigration violators who may pose a threat to national security.
ICE has been working for the past several months at a heightened level in direct support of the government-wide Interagency Security Plan that will remain in effect through the 2005 Presidential Inauguration. ICE's stepped-up enforcement actions involve the re-prioritization of existing leads on suspected immigration status violators according to national security criteria. This initiative combines the resources of the ICE
Office of Investigations, the Office of Detention and Removal and the Office of Intelligence to apply real-time threat information to detect, prevent, and disrupt potential terrorist activities. This initiative builds upon ICE's continued efforts to target immigration status violators in America - without regard to race, ethnicity or religion.
Acting on the prioritized leads, ICE agents in the field will locate suspected immigration status violators. If ICE investigators determine that the individual is out of status, then the individual will be arrested. Determinations on detention will be decided on a case-by-case basis in keeping with standard ICE detention policy. Anyone subject to detention will be afforded access to counsel as permitted under national standards.
When appropriate, and as resources allow, ICE agents will be supported by other law enforcement agencies through the nation's Joint Terrorism Task Forces.
What ICE is not doing:
-ICE is not conducting a "round-up" or a "sweep" in any community.
-ICE is not profiling based on race or religious affiliation.
-ICE is not instituting a blanket detention policy.
As the recent 9/11 Commission Staff monograph on terrorist travel notes, at least three of the 9/11 hijackers violated the terms of their visas before carrying out their attacks. The 9/11 Commission report further added that: "Had the immigration system set a higher bar for determining whether individuals are who or what they claim to be - and ensuring routine consequences for violations - it could have potentially excluded, removed, or come into further contact with several hijackers."
To detect and deter such abuses, ICE's Compliance Enforcement Unit routinely researches and assigns immigration status violator leads to ICE field offices nationwide based on data from the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System (NSEERS), and the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program (USVISIT).
ADC Update – Sept. 30, 2004
Know Your Rights Information
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) would like to remind members of the Arab, Muslim, and Arab-American communities that equal protection and due process rights are afforded to everyone, including non-citizens, in the United States. ADC urges anyone who is contacted by the FBI to contact the ADC Legal Department and provide details of the incident by calling (202) 244-2990, sending a fax to (202) 244-3196, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ADC offers the following guidelines to anyone who is contacted by the FBI or other law enforcement agencies. Please see other valuable information included below.
1) Make sure an attorney is present at all times during any voluntary interview the person may choose to attend. It is important to note that everything you say to an FBI agent or other law enforcement representative is recorded, nothing is ‘off the record,’ including immigration status.
2) The interviewee may determine the date, time, location of the interview, and who may attend the interview, including an interpreter if needed. The FBI is required to provide an interpreter if requested.
3) Bear in mind that all such interviews are completely voluntary and that no one is obligated to volunteer to speak with an FBI agent or other law enforcement representative or answer any questions without a court-approved document.
4) The interviewee has absolute discretion as to what questions to answer in such a voluntary interview. For example, one may choose to answer questions about their neighborhood and yet refuse to answer any questions regarding their immigration status. However, anything and everything you say during these voluntary interviews is ‘on the record.’
Upon request, ADC will do its best to provide third party observers, in cases where potential interviewees would want such additional safeguards. Additional useful "Know Your Rights" information can be found on the ADC website at:
For helpful information from the ACLU, please click the link below:
The National Lawyers Guild has also created know your rights information in a number of languages, for English see: http://www.nlg.org/resources/kyr/kyr_English2004.pdf
For an Arabic version, please see: http://www.nlg.org/resources/kyr/KYR_Arabic_national_low.pdf