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Tag: arab

Hamad: FBI Violates Trust with Arab Community over Surveillance Flights

By Imad Hamad
for Detroit News

The recent FBI surveillance planes that were observed flying over Dearborn a few days ago made many revisit the issue of trust between the Arab and Muslim American community and the federal government.

Did these planes fly over Dearborn because of its identity as the hub of the Arab and Muslim American community? Surveillance is an issue of concern to a community that has dealt with different unfortunate episodes, and has become aware of questionable federal law enforcement techniques.

The FBI responded to community concerns by stating that the aerial surveillance is real but its mission is legitimate law enforcement activity and not broad profiling of any particular community. Despite that, many could not help but perceive that the government was profiling the community.

There is a real and acute sense that Arab Americans and Muslim Americans are treated unfairly and viewed suspiciously as a group.

There is no doubt that the U.S. faces a real terror threat. And surveillance, when it comports with the law and the democratic traditions of the nation, is a legitimate and necessary law enforcement tool. The FBI planes are not solely an Arab or Dearborn issue, and portraying them as such is inaccurate and perhaps irresponsible as well.

Most importantly for the Arab and Muslim American community, the news of the FBI planes over parts of Metro Detroit came when the Wall Street Journal published on Aug. 5 a report about FBI efforts to counter violent extremism.

Imad Hamad is executive director of the American Human Rights Council.

To read more, click here.

FBI Efforts to Foster Better Relations With Islamic Community Still Hits Bumps

 By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
Ten years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the FBI efforts to strengthen the bonds with the Islamic American community haven’t always gone smoothly.

The latest of example of that came Saturday in Seattle when the the FBI, Seattle Police and U.S. Attorney’s Office participated in an outreach workshop Saturday with Seattle’s Muslim, Arab, East African and Sikh communities at North Seattle Community College, the Seattle Times reported.

The paper reported that “the event grew confrontational during the FBI’s presentation, which community members complained was too focused on Islamic terrorist groups. Then, the agents showed a PowerPoint slide about state-sponsored terrorism that included a photograph of a man many in the audience believed was a Shia Islamic leader based on his clothes. Several people in the audience asked whether it was Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a political and religious leader who led the 1979 Iranian Revolution and died in 1989.”

The Times reported that two FBI agents giving the presentation didn’t know who it was.

“That offended members of the audience even more, and one of them compared it to calling the pope a terrorist or serving pork to Muslims,” the paper reported.

The Seattle Times siad that the FBI agents Brenda Wilson and Daniel Guerrero declined to comment to the media afterwards, but told community leaders they welcomed their feedback.

To read more click here.

 

Column: New Orlean’s U.S. Atty. Jim Letten Speaks of Diversity and the Arab-Muslim Community

U.S. Atty Jim Letten/gov photo

By Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney
New Orleans Times-Picayune Op-Ed Page

NEW ORLEANS — As we approach the 10th anniversary of the tragic Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and continue to defend against those who wage their vicious campaigns against us and our freedoms, it is essential that we look forward.

That is not to say that we need not remain ever more vigilant by fiercely, courageously and intelligently defending this great nation. It does mean, however, that our uniquely American way of life and our freedoms must be preserved as well — intact and for all who lawfully and in good faith embrace it and seek its protection and freedoms.

I write this piece as an American and as U.S. attorney — and to fulfill a promise I readily made to our friends and neighbors in our local Arab-Muslim community. I can proudly say that the citizens here in Southeast Louisiana have displayed the best of the American spirit in the tolerant, highly diverse gumbo of cultures that is quintessentially reflective of America as a whole.

But even in the greatest country in the world, assimilation can often be difficult and fraught with challenges. Nowhere has that cultural blending been tested more than with our Arab-Muslim neighbors. The consequences of an ongoing global war that we and our allies have waged against terrorists have at times included a backlash often directed against Arab and Muslim Americans.

To read full column click here.

Fed Judge Shoots Down New Trial For Highest Ranking Arab-American FBI Agent

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A D.C. federal judge on Wednesday shot down a request for a new civil trial for the FBI’s highest-ranking Arab American agent, who claimed the agency retaliated against him after he filed a discrimination complaint, the  Blog of Legal Times reported.

Agent Bassem Youssef, a supervisory agent and unit chief in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, claimed at  trial in September that the FBI discriminated against him and delayed his career advancement because he is Egyptian and that he filed the discrimination complaint, according to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

Specifically, Youssef contended that the bureau blocked him from participating in inspections of FBI offices at a certain juncture in his career. The  inspections provide a training opportunity that leads to inspection certification, which can be helpful in getting promotions. He eventually obtained the certification, but he claimed two years later than he should have.

Justice Department lawyers claimed he was denied the inspection opportunities at one point  because he had transferred to a new unit and missed too much work.

The jury found Youssef had not proven his case and judge consequently ordered that “costs be taxed against Youssef.”

The judge in denying a new trial  ruled Wednesday  that he “was not actually harmed” by the denial to go on certain inspections in 2005.

The FBI has sought reimbursement in the case for $32,431.46 in costs; $446 for fees for service of summons and subpoenas; $615.50 in copying fees; $5,924.66 in witness fees and $25,445.30 fees for transcripts.

The judge ruled Thursday that the agent should pay some costs and not others, but that the  Justice  Department “should submit a revised bill of costs” excluding certain expenditures.

Read ruling