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Posted: 6/29/2002 4:21:00 PM EDT
[url]http://www.kfwb.com/news_national.asp?displayOption=&contentGUID={B23BD974-1B87-4250-B2AF-613034BE1155}&groupName=KFWB%20Front%20Page%20National%20Headlines&siteGUID={3B62BF55-4A93-48E6-A45D-6A495DC423AD}[/url] KFWB NEWS 980 -- ALL NEWS ALL THE TIME Saturday, June 29, 2002 Mueller Tells Muslims They Provided Key Help After Sept. 11 ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) 6.28.02, 12:10p -- FBI Director Robert Mueller told a convention of American Muslims on Friday they have provided "substantive assistance" in investigating terrorism since Sept. 11, including key help translating for suspects who speak Arabic. Mueller also noted, however, that some members of the American Muslim Council in the past had made statements supporting terrorism. "My presence generated some controversy," Mueller told the group, in reference to a handful of calls that he should not speak to the group. He noted the organization's head condemned the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon after they happened. But the FBI director also said some people associated with the group "have in the past made statements that indicated support for terrorists and terrorist organizations," and said all Americans should be outraged by such statements. Nevertheless, Mueller defended his appearance, saying, "It is critically important for us to develop a strong relationship." Among the assistance Muslims in the United States have provided to law enforcement was an outpouring of people volunteering to serve as Arabic translators, Mueller said. That allowed the FBI to double the number of such experts and substantially reduce a backlog of items needing translating, he said. Some Arabic translators also have gone to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to help interview suspected al-Qaida or Taliban suspects detained there, Mueller said. The FBI director also sought to assure the group that his agency will not abuse broad new powers to fight terrorism, by trampling on civil liberties or unfairly singling out Arabs or Muslims. "We are out to address terrorists," Mueller said. "This is in no way a war against Islam." The group opened its 11th annual meeting Thursday with a daylong lobbying session on Capitol Hill. Clutching red booklets titled "How Our Laws Are Made," many of the members seemed determined, if hesitant, to engage in this ritual of citizenship -- most of them for the first time. The United States has frozen the assets of some of the charities to which the council has urged its members to contribute, citing alleged links to terrorists. The council has disputed those characterizations, and stressed that it is a mainstream organization. -- continued --
Link Posted: 6/29/2002 4:25:10 PM EDT
Participants in this year's conference, whose theme is "American Muslims: Part of America," showed the pressures of this age of increased FBI surveillance. Many shunned media interviews, fearing they might invite police scrutiny of their activities. "We're particularly pleased that you have decided to come out as Americans," Eric Vickers, director of the American Muslim Council, told them during an orientation session Thursday. The list of issues for which they seek political attention is long: a Palestinian state, Iraq, Kashmir, new FBI surveillance tactics and racial profiling of Muslims since Sept. 11. "I think it will be tough," said Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Saudi Institute, a pro-democracy group. "There has been a realization that we need to resolve our internal issues and deal with the world, America specifically, in a very clear and concise manner. But with a weak community, you can't do the job you need to do." About 50 people took part in Thursday's session, sitting quietly in a House meeting room to bone up on the basics of talking to elected officials and using federal anti-discrimination laws to protect their rights. The citizen-lobbyists also got the Islamic perspective on the need for a Palestinian state, the tumult between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and the failures of the oil-for-food program in Iraq. "I've never done anything like this before, so I'm out here to watch and learn from the people who have the experience," said Zayed Yasin, 22, of Scituate, Mass., who found himself at the center of controversy for using the term "jihad" in his Harvard University commencement speech. "It's part of living in this country. Every community that has issues important to it needs to be involved in the political process to get those issues addressed," Yasin said, adding self-consciously, "I haven't been that good about it either." ©2002 Radio Web Network. All rights reserved.
Link Posted: 6/29/2002 6:06:24 PM EDT
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