Posted by Jeff from d53-152-230.try.wideopenwest.com (188.8.131.52) on Monday, March 17, 2003 at 7:55PM :
Note that it says "50,000 Iraqis". Since we know that the majority of "Iraqis" in America are Assyrians and Chaldeans, one can only surmise that our people are the ones who are being watched, interviewed, and soon... "interned".
Ooh baby, baby it's a wild world...
FBI Closely Watches Some Iraqis in U.S.
15 minutes ago
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By CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - The FBI (news - web sites) is closely watching dozens of Iraqis and others living in the United States in a wide-ranging security plan meant to deter any reprisals for a U.S. invasion. Officials are considering raising the nation's terror risk alert level from yellow to orange.
Some of those under FBI watch have been identified through ongoing interviews of up to 50,000 Iraqis. Others are suspected of having links to al-Qaida and other terror groups, possibly including the Hamas and Hezbollah organizations blamed for suicide bombings in Israel.
The interviews with Iraqis are "designed to obtain any information that could be of use to the United States during a possible conflict," Jeffrey Lampinski, special agent in charge of the FBI's Philadelphia field office, said Monday.
The surveillance is part of a broader plan by the federal government, along with state and local law enforcement officials, to raise the nation's level of counterterrorism vigilance as the prospects for war increased. Many thousands of law enforcers are involved.
Two senior law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the administration was weighing whether to raise the national terror alert level from elevated, or yellow, to "high risk," or orange. The level was at that second-highest point on the color-coded scale through much of February, dropping back to yellow on Feb. 27.
Some Muslims and Arabs fear war might result in harassment or deportation. One group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, e-mailed a "community safety kit" to mosques, community centers and others Monday that describes steps people can take to deal with backlash from a U.S.-Iraqi war and urging cooperation with police.
"All of us are going to be suspects," said Sarah Eltantawi, spokeswoman for the Muslim Public Affairs Council. "There is just this profound sense of disappointment about what America is becoming."
FBI spokesman Mike Kortan called the plan a prudent approach to give the country the best protection possible.
Law enforcement officials believe war with Iraq (news - web sites) could become a catalyst for attacks on the United States or its interests abroad, possibly involving single individuals with explosives strapped to their bodies.
U.S. counterterrorism officials say operatives working for Iraq's Mukhabarat, President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s intelligence service, could attempt bombings or other traditional terrorist-style attacks. Many are thought to work out of Iraqi embassies around the world under diplomatic cover. The State Department recently sought the expulsion of some 300 suspected operatives from more than 60 countries, but many have not been removed.
Al-Qaida also may use the fighting as an opportunity to strike, although the most specific information points to possible attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East. Officials say they have no credible information al-Qaida is close to launching a strike inside the United States. A recent statement from Osama bin Laden (news - web sites), the Saudi-born leader of al-Qaida, declared some solidarity with Iraqis, although he referred to Saddam's government as infidels.
The security plan, a year in the making, would divert several thousand FBI agents away from regular duties to focus solely on counterterror and security. The 56 FBI field offices will set up 24-hour command centers working with the 66 joint terrorism task forces that include other federal, state and local law enforcement agents.
Their job will be to react quickly to any intelligence data, including that collected by the United States in Iraq, or other information indicating that terror is being planned or is imminent. They also will focus on potential targets, keeping closer watch on critical infrastructure such as dams, bridges and power plants, and react to any hate crimes directed against Muslims or Arab-Americans.
Immigration officials are prepared to detain anyone identified by the FBI in violation of immigration laws.
Associated Press writer John J. Lumpkin contributed to this report.
On the Net:
Homeland Security Department: http://www.dhs.gov
Council on American-Islamic Relations: http://www.cair-net.org
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