PANIC and FEAR AMONG MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS in U.S. WHOSE LEADERSHIP DID NOT PREPARE THEM to Face It [Also, a "Muslim" Helped to Get Lackawanna Yemeni Youths Arrested]

[This report, typical of many others, is from the southern United States. Name Withheld on Request.]

There is a Muslim community here, but in a rather frustrating state of panic. Say anything against the "war on terror" and so forth and they respond "are you trying to get us all arrested!!??"

Everybody knows there are FBI informants and spies, and frankly with the way so many people are scared, I'm sure many are willing to inform just to try to keep themselves "safe". So you never know whom you can talk to.

You even see "support our troops" bumper stickers on the cars in front of you when you drive out of the mosque on Friday! (I've even seen a few of those Christian fish symbols on cars leaving after Jum'ah prayer - I guess those are Muslims who are really trying to keep a "low profile."!!)

A couple years ago, maybe two or three months after 9-11, the various imams from the towns around here had a meeting with the head of the FBI office and offered their help and cooperation. They wanted to assist the FBI in explaining and interpreting what the FBI was learning. They wanted to be more "in the loop." That FBI guy became enraged and lectured them sternly on how they all were under the law and that it's a criminal offense to interfere with investigations, for which you can be imprisoned, etc. He was standing there lecturing all those bearded imams and virtually threatening them!

This was on TV news! So humiliating! They went to try to help and were treated like suspects.

Unfortunately, instead of making people openly mad it seems to have intimidated the community.

In fact it all made me wonder if those few shootings and fire bombs at mosques that followed 9-11 were really done by nutty Americans or if they were an attempt by the authorities to scare Muslims in to asking for police protection, police surveillance, etc. For months there were cop cars openly watching mosques all the time, observing who came and went. Now I suppose it's done more covertly.

Well, but I guess that's how it is throughout the country.

Did you see the TV special last week on Frontline about the Lackawana prisoners? It was pretty good, considering the mood of the US. Basically it showed the FBI investigators admitting that they don't personally think those guys aren't a threat, but "potentially it is possible that they could become one" so they were arrested because "it couldn't be ruled out that at some point they might be a threat." And they were arrested because Bush was pushing for some "action" to prevent "terrorist acts."

So in addition to preventive war, we now have preventive arrest, and even the investigators know those guys aren't a threat. But unfortunately, there are now "crimes" that can be pinned on people when you want to imprison them preventively, and in their case it was "aiding a terrorist group" because they spent a few days in one of the al-Qa'idah camps before they decided that this wasn't for them.

But the most disgusting part was that it all began when the FBI received an "anonymous" letter apparently from some Muslim giving them names of these guys. If it hadn't been for that informer, the FBI wouldn't have even investigated them or known that they went to visit Afghanistan. Now those Muslims who didn't do anything have long prison sentences thanks to that "good citizen."

2004-02-21 Sat 15:37ct