U.S. MUSLIM & ARAB GROUPS URGE VIGILANCE FOLLOWING LATEST NY TERROR CASE
(Washington, DC - 9/25/09)—Following the announcement of a federal indictment yesterday against a Colorado man on one charge of conspiring to detonate bombs in the U.S., a coalition of Muslim and Arab American groups are urging greater vigilance and partnership among community members.
SEE: “Terror Case Is Called One of the Most Serious in Years” (New York Times)
“We are investigating a wide range of leads related to this alleged conspiracy,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday. “We believe any imminent threat arising from this case has been disrupted, but as always, we remind the American public to be vigilant.”
In their joint statement, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Freedom and Justice Foundation (F&J), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and Imam Mohamed Magid, Director of the ADAMS Center in Virginia, stated:
The defendants in this case will be judged in the court of law, and should be afforded their due process and the presumption of innocence. While we are always vigilant in defending civil rights and preventing stigmatization of any group or religion, we also view the safety of our country as a top priority. We have an overarching duty to work together and with law enforcement to protect the country and to offer any information that can pre-empt another terrorist attack.
“We urge our constituents to extend full cooperation to protect the innocent, to support the rule of law, and to keep the name of Islam clean and clear from any criminal behavior,” said MPAC Senior Advisor Dr. Maher Hathout.
“ADC reiterates its opposition to and condemnation of those who would attack our country or any innocent civilians,” said ADC Executive Director Kareem Shora. “ADC pledges to continue to be actively involved in protecting and strengthening our country and all the values for which it stands.”
“ISNA supports law enforcement agencies in combating terrorism and bringing those responsible to justice,” said Imam Mohamed Magid, Vice President of ISNA. “Muslim Americans are law abiding citizens and the acts of a few individuals should not reflect on the whole community. Many Muslim Americans serve in law enforcement to protect our nation and we hope that these isolated incidents will not result in backlash against our community.”
“We strongly encourage our communities to deepen their cooperation with law enforcement in order to safeguard our homeland against violent extremism threats,” said Mohamed Elibiary, CEO of the Freedom and Justice Foundation.
As is always the case with news reports regarding alleged terror plots, our groups are concerned about the possibility of backlash against Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Americans. This advisory is being issued as a precautionary measure. Based on experiences in the community in recent years, we offer the following recommendations:
1) IF YOU SEE SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY:
Contact local law enforcement by calling 911.
Fill out an online “FBI Tips & Public Leads” form at https://tips.fbi.gov/
Click here to see a list of FBI field offices and their direct contact information.
2) IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS PLACED IN PHYSICAL DANGER BECAUSE OF YOUR ETHNICITY, RELIGION, OR NATIONAL ORIGIN:
Call the police (dial 911 in most communities).
Contact the local FBI office, It is the FBI’s job to investigate hate-motivated crimes and specific threats of violence. Click here to see a list of FBI field offices.
If the threat is imminent, go to a safe location such as a police station or a house of worship.
3) IF YOUR PLACE OF WORK, PLACE OF WORSHIP, OR SCHOOL IS IDENTIFIED OR CAN BE MISIDENTIFIED WITH ARABS AND/OR MUSLIMS:
Make sure the location has an open line of communication with law enforcement.
Make sure you know all the exits to your building.
Make sure the location has a current emergency plan that is defined and can be implemented should the need arise.
4) IF YOUR CHILD CAN BE IDENTIFIED AS ARAB OR MUSLIM, OR MAY BE CONFUSED FOR BEING OF MIDDLE-EASTERN ORIGIN:
Make sure you discuss the events with your children and that they feel comfortable speaking with an adult if they face harassment by others.
Make sure your children know what steps to take to avoid confrontation with other students.
Work with your children’s school to implement an anti-discriminatory policy.
Click on the following link for a list of the FBI Field Offices across the country: http://adc.org/fbi_field_office.htm
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS ADVISORY
In light of these developments, the community groups remind members of the Arab, Muslim, and South Asian-American communities that equal protection and due process rights are afforded to everyone, including non-citizens, in the United States. We urge anyone who is contacted by law enforcement for an interview to remember:
1) Their absolute discretion whether to submit to any voluntary interview. This means it is their right to decide whether to submit to an interview.
2) Their right not to answer questions without the presence of an attorney. The community groups highly recommend that individuals not participate in any interviews without an attorney.
4) Their absolute discretion in selecting the date, time, and location of any voluntary interview as well as who may attend the interview including an interpreter if needed. Remember that the interview is voluntary unless specifically told otherwise.
5) Their absolute discretion in selecting what questions to answer during such a voluntary interview. For example, one may choose to answer questions about their neighborhood or activity they may deem suspicious and yet refuse to answer any questions regarding their immigration status, political views, or religious beliefs and practices.
Additional useful know your rights information may be obtained by reviewing the Legal Department section of the ADC website at http://www.adc.org/legal