Breeding distrust 

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) says there’s been “a recent wave of reports from across the country indicating that FBI agents are contacting Arab and Muslim Americans, including citizens, for what has been described as voluntary interviews.”

Particularly disturbing to Arab-American leaders is the way the feds launched this latest round of interrogations.

“Unlike previous initiatives, the FBI has not communicated to ADC any plans to conduct such interviews,” the nonprofit advocacy group declared in a press release.

Imad Hamad, regional director of the ADC, finds the lack of communication disconcerting.

“Historically speaking, we’ve had good relations with FBI,” says Hamad. “The different thing about this new wave of interviews is that the FBI, despite ongoing interaction, basically left us in the dark. They never notified us. They never discussed this with us.”

As of Monday, Hamad still had not been contacted. However, interviews have already begun in the Detroit area, confirmed Special Agent Dawn Clenney, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Detroit office. She says the contacts, both locally and nationwide, are being conducted in an attempt to gain detailed information about a possible attack intelligence reports indicate the al Qaeda terrorist group is planning.

Yet Clenney insists that the interviews are not part of some new initiative being launched by the FBI. The agency, she says, is “just reinforcing our presence in the community. This is not something new we are doing.”

However it is characterized, news of the effort has spread quickly through the Arab-American community. Hamad says calls have been pouring into his office from people concerned about what to do if they are contacted by the feds.

That high level of anxiety is part of the reason Hamad says it was a mistake for the feds to have launched such an effort without first informing Arab-American leaders.

“It is helpful to all when you have clear and open lines of communication,” says Hamad. “That approach has been proven to be effective and helpful for the government as well as the community.”

The flip side is that without such communication, trust erodes and fear spreads. The ADC is advising people contacted by the authorities to make sure an attorney is present during any interview.

“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,” the ADC advises.

Unless John Ashcroft and Tom Ridge are crying wolf (that’s always a possibility), it’s certainly prudent for authorities to beat the bushes for data on possible terror plots. But disclosure is key, and working with the ADC seems equally prudent.

For information contact the local office of the ADC at 313-581-1201.

Contact News Hits at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

February 24, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation