The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic
advocacy group, today said raids Wednesday on a number of Islamic institutions
and homes in Virginia and Georgia were a "fishing expedition" that
will only serve to intimidate law-abiding Muslim citizens.
In a statement issued at a packed Capitol Hill news conference, where
representatives of some 25 local, national and international media outlets
attended, CAIR's Governmental Affairs Director, Jason Erb said:
"The Muslim community is deeply concerned about what appears to be a
fishing expedition by federal authorities using McCarthy-like tactics in a
search for evidence of wrongdoing that does not exist."
"Unfortunately, investigators are well aware that in the current climate
of fear and prejudice, few people will ask the tough questions about why these
respected individuals and groups were targeted. Vague and unsubstantiated
references to 'links' or 'ties' to infamous names and organizations should not
be a substitute for credible evidence."
"As in past incidents targeting American Muslim institutions, no one is
being given their day in court to confront accusers or refute allegations. Where
then does one go to retrieve a reputation damaged by an irresponsible and
"All Americans have a justifiable desire to feel secure in this time of
international crisis. But security need not be gained by destroying the civil
liberties and standards of due process that we all hold dear."
Groups represented at or endorsing today's news conference included CAIR,
American Muslim Council, Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Institute,
Islamic Society of North America, Muslim Alliance in North America, and Muslim
In addition, a statement was issued by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
It stated that MPAC is gravely concerned over law enforcement raids of American
Muslim homes and institutions that took place yesterday, March 20, 2002, in the
greater Washington D.C. area and Georgia.
According to media reports, 150 law enforcement officers from agencies
including Customs, Secret Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, FBI,
Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the U.S. Postal Service served 14
search warrants in N. Virginia and one in Georgia.
The same day the Attorney General announced that he would engage in
interviews of foreigners in this country based exclusively on the fact that they
are Arab and Muslim, Federal law enforcement agents engage in a large-scale raid
of not only American Muslim organizations, but homes. This "second
phase" of raids and interviews announced by the Department of Justice is
unjustifiable considering that the first raid yielded little or nothing in the
way of intelligence or enhanced national security. Instead, these raids
will further isolate and alienate law-abiding Muslims at a time when law
enforcement should seek its cooperation.
Our community and organizations will continue to refuse to forfeit our rights
as Americans, including basics such as the right to due process of the law and
the full disclosure of law-enforcement action and evidence, if any, against our
There are an estimated seven million Muslims in American and some 1.2 billion