Muslim Leaders in Miami Ask Authorities Not to Link Terror Suspects to Muslim Community

June 24, 2006

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel,0,584506.story

On June 24, 2006 the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported, "Minutes after U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta announced indictments on Friday against an alleged terror cell, a Muslim leader took to the steps of the city's federal courthouse and said the suspects 'were not known' at either of two mosques near the warehouse in the Liberty City neighborhood where authorities arrested them. Ahmed Bedier, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he and other Muslims feared some would try to connect Islam and the men's alleged plot to blow up a slew of federal buildings and the Sears Tower in Chicago. 'This seems like some kind of cult group that shares nothing with our community,' Bedier told reporters of the suspects. He asked the pressnews media not to refer to the suspects as Muslims. 'Muslims don't worship at warehouses,' Bedier said. 'They don't sleep in warehouses.' Concerned the case might lead some to paint defaming graffiti, damage mosques or homes, CAIR's legal director in Florida, Areeb Naseer, asked police to be vigilant. 'We are concerned about a backlash against the Muslim community as a result of these arrests,' Naseer said. Incidents of vandalism against Muslim shops, mosques and community centers increased after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., which also prompted authorities to search Arab-Americans at airport security checkpoints, community leaders said. Law enforcement officials sought to preempt any negative, generalized reactions. 'Today's indictment is against individuals. It's not against a particular group or a particular faith,' U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta said."