Distrust Hinders FBI in Outreach to Muslims

[Washington Post] Karen DeYoung - The FBI's worst fears that hidden homegrown terrorist groups could take root in the U.S. were fanned in Los Angeles in the summer of 2005 when four young Muslim men were charged with conspiring "to levy war against the United States" via deadly attacks on military installations and synagogues in southern California. The men, who were discovered before they could carry out their alleged plans, belonged to what Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales called a "radical Islamic organization" named Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh (JIS), or Assembly of True Islam. But the FBI had only stumbled upon JIS. Numbers on a cellphone dropped during a gas-station holdup led local police to an apartment and a computer with documents that authorities said outlined a terrorism spree. None of the four - three U.S.-born citizens and one Pakistani immigrant - fit a terrorist profile. Virtually all 56 FBI field offices and many local police departments have invited Muslim leaders to join multicultural advisory boards and to teach classes in the basics of Islam to agents and police. At community meetings, the FBI listens to Muslim complaints and asks for assistance in finding potential terrorists in their own communities. But many FBI officers have grown impatient with what they see as Muslim resistance. The Muslims are "in denial" over the threat in their midst, one senior officer said, adding: "All they say is 'There is no problem. Stop picking on us.'"

2007-02-09 01:00:00

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