- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

The director of the FBI has met with key leaders of national Arab-American, Muslim and Sikh organizations in a continuing outreach effort by the bureau to maintain an open dialogue and reinforce efforts to protect their civil rights.
"Protecting the civil rights of all Americans remains a top priority for the FBI," Robert S. Mueller III said after a Friday meeting his third with leaders of the organizations. "I'm vitally concerned that the rights of Muslim, Sikh and Arab-Americans be protected.
"The FBI stands prepared to take strong and immediate action against hate crimes in the event of any anti-Arab-American backlash to world events," he said.
Mr. Mueller called the meeting to discuss many issues, including vigilante attacks, other hate crimes and the value of continuing assistance from the Arab-American, Muslim and Sikh communities. The director also talked about the importance of strengthening relationships and improving cultural sensitivity.
Ziad J. Asali, president of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, said in a statement: "We appreciate the director responding so quickly to our request to meet to discuss the concerns of our community."
Other leaders in attendance also said they appreciated the heightened sensitivity displayed by Mr. Mueller and the FBI during a time when their communities might be particularly vulnerable.
"We appreciate the FBI's commitment to protecting our communities," said Yahya Mossa-Basha, chairman of the American Muslim Council.
Manjit Singh, chairman of the Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force, said that at a time of "vulnerability in our community, we feel that it is very important to maintain open communications with the FBI."
"We appreciate the FBI's commitment to protecting our communities," said Khaled Saffuri, chairman of the Islamic Institute.
Mr. Mueller said the FBI's aggressive response to hate crimes has sent a "clear message" that vigilante attacks will not be tolerated. To date, he said, the FBI has initiated 414 hate-crime investigations involving Muslim, Sikh and Arab-American victims, with 17 persons being charged federally. Additionally, 129 persons have been charged with state and local crimes in connection with those investigations.
In addition to three meetings with the director, numerous other meetings have involved group leaders at all levels of the FBI, including the bureau's Civil Rights Unit. Additionally, each FBI field office was tasked with establishing contacts with Arab-American, Muslim and Sikh community organizations and leaders in their territories.
National Arab-American and Muslim leaders have made presentations at FBI training courses on civil rights and to new special agents in "Enrichment Training Sessions" at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., and Mr. Mueller was the keynote speaker at the American Muslim Council conference in June.
During that speech, Mr. Mueller encouraged the council to cooperate with the FBI to prevent future terrorist attacks and criticized some of the organization's members for their past support of terrorism. He also called on the members "as Americans to continue working with us to defeat terror."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide