From the Sacramento Bee, with thanks to Kemaste:
Sparked by what they call credible threats, Sacramento-area FBI and immigration officials have stepped up interviews, surveillance and investigations leading up to the Nov. 2 election.
Though federal officials say they’re responding broadly to potential terror attacks here and nationwide, local Middle Eastern and Muslim residents argue that they are being targeted based on their race and national origin.
The National Lawyers Guild office in the Bay Area, which maintains a hotline for people who have been approached by the FBI, has received three calls from Sacramento-area residents who said they were recently contacted.
“We believe efforts are being concentrated in the Sacramento area right now,” said Mel Campagna, the National Lawyers Guild representative who responds to hotline calls. “The FBI came to them at home and at work. They were asking questions about people at the mosques they attend.”
Last week, Keith Slotter, the special agent in charge of Sacramento’s FBI office, met with area Muslim leaders to explain the effort, answer their questions and “allay any fears,” he said.
It’s a shame that the Muslim leaders don’t feel compelled to meet initiate meetings with law enforcement officials in order to allay any fears on their side.
Slotter said the effort isn’t based on people’s ethnic origin or religion.
But area residents from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia call this another in a string of government initiatives that discriminate against them.
Still smarting from the recent program that required men from predominately Arab countries to report to immigration officials, local Muslim leaders say the government is selectively enforcing laws against them.
“The agenda is not going after terrorists,” said Kais Menoufy, CEO and president Delegata, a Sacramento technology consulting firm. “The agenda is to intimidate Muslims and create fear among Americans.”
Menoufy, a U.S. citizen originally from Egypt, attended Slotter’s meeting and believes the crackdown is politically driven.
McGregor Scott, the U.S. attorney in Sacramento, also attended the meeting and said federal officials are merely basing their investigations on past patterns.
“Al-Qaida is the number-one terrorist threat the nation faces. Al-Qaida is a Muslim-oriented group,” he explained. “We’re not targeting anybody. We’re looking at the threat.”…
Mustafa, a 40-year-old business owner who asked not to be identified by his full name, is one local resident who says he has been interviewed by the FBI.
Now a U.S. citizen, Mustafa came to the United States from Syria and attends mosque regularly.
In June, the south Sacramento resident said, two FBI agents came to his home and asked if they could question him.
Mustafa said they spent 10 to 15 minutes asking him what mosque he attends, what country other members of the mosque come from and whether he had any suspicious activities to report.
“I didn’t have anything to hide, so I had no problem with them,” he said.
But Mustafa said he received another call from the FBI agents in late August requesting another interview. This time, he called the local Council on American-Islamic Relations chapter and was referred to an attorney.
The attorney told the FBI that Mustafa didn’t want to participate in the interview because he had nothing new to add.
Mustafa hasn’t been contacted since but said the experience has unsettled him.
“In Syria, they targeted you for whatever reason,” he said. “Here, you should be free from being targeted because of your religion or background.”
Maybe you should be. But how would Mustafa advise law enforcement officials to deal with a threat that comes only from people of a particular religion?