The Associated Press has a story today about a letter sent by 25 American Muslim and Arab groups to the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, urging him to be sensitive in scrutinizing Hizbullah activities in the United States. (Oddly enough, the letter itself does not seem to be available online, even on the websites of the groups named in the article, namely the Islamic Society of North America, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Muslim Advocates, so one must work from the information provided by AP.)
The letter to Director Robert Mueller noted that since 9/11, the FBI had focused on interviewing Arab and Muslim males. "During these interview efforts, it quickly became apparent that FBI agents were frequently engaging in harassing, unduly burdensome and improper questioning."
The lead drafter of the letter, Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates, elaborated that the signers want the FBI "to focus on actual credible evidence of wrongdoing and not target people based on their ethnicity or religion or . . . political expression. We want to avert any kind of raw fishing expedition-type initiative."
On the surface, the Wahhabi lobby's initiative seems to be working, for FBI spokesman Stephen Kodak says his agency plans to reach out to the groups that signed the letter ("We are sensitive to the cultural differences in dealing with the Muslim community") and there are no plans to launch large-scale interviews versus Hizbullah.
Comments: (1) To which I reply: no fishing expeditions, to be sure, but because all Islamist terrorists are Muslims, there is an unfortunate need for Muslims to come under special scrutiny. Further, such scrutiny already exists, it must exist, and all concerned benefit by making this special focus both explicit and legal.
(2) Protecting Hizbullah's fundraising efforts in the United States is surely not on the Saudis' priority list (I documented Riyadh's negative reaction to the Hizbullah attack on Israel at "Saudis Condemn Hamas and Hizbullah") but this would not be the first time that Saudi beneficiaries have gone off message; such happened, for example, on a massive scale after the Iraqi attack on Kuwait in 1990. The contradiction points to the tight strategic thinking in the Saudi government and the populist instincts of its international agents. (July 27, 2006)