Precarious Solidarity between American Muslims and F.B.I. Agents in Pennsylvania

March 21, 2003

Source: The New York Times

On March 21, 2003 The New York Times reported that "moments after he watched television coverage of the first bombs striking Baghdad, Clifton Omar Slater, the president of the Islamic Council of Pittsburgh, received a call on his cellphone that he did not expect... It was an F.B.I. official, calling to invite local Muslim leaders to appear with law enforcement officials at a news conference at the bureau's regional headquarters the next morning to demonstrate the fledgling efforts at cooperation between Muslims and the F.B.I... Mr. Slater accepted, and so this morning he and the president of a local mosque stood shoulder to shoulder with Federal Bureau of Investigation and police officials here as the government announced plans to interview the 397 Iraqis identified as living in Western Pennsylvania... In return, bureau officials have pledged to protect American Muslims and their mosques from the type of hate crimes and bias attacks that both sides expect now that the United States is at war with a predominantly Muslim nation... Leaders of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh say they have invited F.B.I. agents to attend open houses and have helped F.B.I. recruiters find Muslims fluent in Arabic, Pashtun and Urdu. Despite this, mosque leaders say, they believe they are under surveillance, although F.B.I. officials will not confirm or deny it."