FBI director praises American Muslim cooperation
Robert S. Mueller, III, FBI Director
Foreign Press Center Briefing on Feb. 17, 2004
These are excerpts from the interview:
QUESTION: Mr. Mueller, good morning. Thank you, sir, for this opportunity. My name is Abderrahim Foukara from Al-Jazeera television. I have a couple of questions. US-based civil liberties organizations are saying that a number of Arab and Muslim people who were picked up after 9/11 have either disappeared or were deported. I was wondering if you could comment on that. I would also appreciate any statistics you may have.
DIRECTOR MUELLER: Since September 11th, we have had substantial assistance and cooperation from the Muslim-American community, the Arab-American community, [and] the Sikh-American community within the United States. And for that all of us are tremendously thankful. Special Agents In Charge around the country meet often with the leaders of the Muslim-American communities. I periodically meet with the leadership here in Washington.
And I want to add that from my view that 99.9 percent of Muslim-Americans, Arab Americans, Sikh-Americans are every bit as patriotic and supportive of the United States as any others of us here in the United States, and that has come out since September 11th.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Khaled Dawoud from Egypt's Al-Ahram Newspaper. I just wondered, actually, maybe you mentioned it during your commencement, whether you had a reaction to Congressman Peter King's accusations that 80 to 85 percent of the mosques here in the United States are being controlled by extremists, and that Muslim community is not cooperating properly with the U.S. authorities.
DIRECTOR MUELLER: Well, as to the first issue, I had not heard of that statement made by the Congressman and I would reaffirm what I said before, that we have had very good cooperation from the Muslim-American community, and I anticipate that to continue.
QUESTION: Yes, sir. Thank you for putting the emphasis on the patriotism of the Arab and Muslim community in the United States.
My question is that, I have read, on my visit to Detroit several weeks ago, some stories from the Arab community here. It seems to me like they need -- or they are looking for new assurances the protection of their civil rights, the continuation of that protection would continue. Can you tell me about, or put more emphasis on the, or elaborate on the measures that you are taking in order to maintain that protection of their civil rights?
DIRECTOR MUELLER: Well, even in the hours after September 11th, you would recognize that there might be some in the United States who would want to take individual retribution against Arab-Americans or Muslim-Americans and we immediately sent word out to our Special Agents In Charge to be alert to any such charges and to immediately follow-up and investigate them thoroughly and aggressively.
We reached out to the Muslim-American community, the Arab-American community, to make certain that we were immediately alerted to any such occurrences. Over the two, two and a half years since September 11th, unfortunately, there have been such occurrences. Everyone has been thoroughly investigated. There have been a number of persons who have been indicted, tried and convicted for such acts. And when we hear about it, we will investigate. When we investigate and find evidence of a violation of the federal civil rights laws, we will prosecute. And when we prosecute, we will convict and they will go to jail. That has happened in the past and will continue to happen if such occurrences repeat themselves.
Feb. 24, 2004 - CIA Director George Tenet & FBI Director Robert Mueller testify on current & projected national security threats before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Robert Mueller told the committee: "…at the outset, I should mention that the Muslim American, Iraqi-American, and Arab-American communities in the United States have contributed a great deal to our success. And on behalf of the FBI, I would like to thank these communities for their assistance and for their ongoing commitment to preventing acts of terrorism."