Arab Americans Protest FBI Investigations

Article excerpt

According to The Washington Post, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted interviews with more than 200 Arab-American business and community leaders during January to protect Arab Americans from any backlash associated with the Gulf crisis and to "gather intelligence about potential terrorist threats." Though the FBI described the measure as "precautionary," and stated that it is not assuming that Arab Americans are aware of or involved in criminal activity, Arab-American and civil liberties organizations were angered and offended by the Justice Department probe. "This is shades of the Japanese-American experience of World War II," stated ADC President Albert Mokhiber. "We find it to be quite offensive; it is, in effect, being dubbed a suspect class."

Arab American Institute Director James Zogby rejected the Japanese-American parallel as inappropriate because, he said, contemporary Arab-American society is "not isolatable." Nevertheless, he harshly criticized the action: "Remember, this is the same FBI that brought us ABSCAM, the LA 8 and investigations into the personal lives of community members during the Lebanon war," Zogby said, "Assuming that they want to protect us is like expecting the fox to guard the chickens. …