- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 28 (UPI) — The FBI on Friday announced the creation of an Arab-American advisory committee to improve relations with the Arab community. The bureau said prominent Arab activist Dr. James Zogby has been appointed a member of this committee.

The committee will serve as an integral link between the Arab-American community and the FBI's Washington Field Office and will work to improve relations between Arab-Americans and the agency. It will meet once a month.

The Arab-American Advisory Committee is the first of its kind in the United States.

Committee members will be responsible for bringing the community's concerns to the FBI's attention and collaborating to find solutions.

The committee will also circulate necessary information from the FBI to the Arab community regarding new policies and available resources. The Washington metro area is home to a sizable Arab-American community with an estimated population of more than 70,000.

"The formalization of this relationship through the creation of the FBI advisory committee will ensure timely cooperation and communication. This committee is a model for constructive relations that we hope other FBI field offices will emulate," Zogby said.

The creation of the Arab-American Advisory Committee follows an increase of 1700 percent in reported hate and bias crimes against Arabs, Muslims and those perceived to be Arab or Muslim since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, says a statement issued by the Arab American Institute, a Washington-based Arab advocacy group.

"We at the FBI are committed to protecting the constitutional rights of every American. In these trying times for the Arab American community, the FBI will be vigorously investigating allegations of the deprivation of civil rights. We hope this committee will ensure the continuation of the ongoing dialogue formed out of a successful working relationship," said FBI Washington Assistant Director Van Harp.

"FBI officials and the Arab leadership are determined to maintain positive relations during these difficult times. We will continue to work with our local communities to ensure cooperation and create regional advisory committees," said Abdallah Al-Zuabi, AAI's national field organizer.

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