STARTING A CONVERSATION
Muslim Youths See FBI Up Close
Were it not for the balmy weather and the
dramatic helicopter landing, a gathering in
the parking lot outside Giants Stadium might
have looked something like a pre-game tailgate
party, replete with donuts and hot coffee.
The assembly wasn't for a game. It was a youth
leadership event co-hosted by the FBI and
a prominent local Muslim organization to mark
its sixth annual Egyptian American Group Day.
Newark field office, hoping to fortify lines
of communication with the region's large Muslim
community, suggested a one-day event at the
stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The venue
would be a big draw for the organization,
and the FBI, by co-hosting the event, would
give curious families a chance to meet agents
up close and personal.
May 20 gathering, an extension of several
forums the Newark office and the local Muslim
community held in the months after last summer's
terrorist bombings in London, featured information
displays, demonstrations, law enforcement
gadgetry, an up-close look at an FBI helicopter,
and, of course, a chance to toss the football
in the shadow of the storied arena.
was designed so that they would get to know
more about us," said Leslie Wiser Jr.,
special agent in charge of the Newark field
the FBI is a goal across our field offices;
community outreach specialists work full-time
to keep the lines of communication open. Going
a step farther, we recently launched a program
to reach out to select communities, like Muslims,
Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans.
The program, called CREST (Community Relations
Executive Seminar Training), started last
fall and has since branched out nationally.
pilot is an effort to ease suspicions some
may have about the FBI.
got to bridge the gap in trust," John
Miller, our assistant director for public
affairs, said to journalists in June at the
New York Foreign Press Center. "A lot
of these communities, frankly, look on the
FBI and the federal government at large with
a great deal of suspicion."
CREST, the youth leadership event in New Jersey
was an effort to put a human face on the FBI.
Other efforts include town hall forums, citizens'
academies, and mosque meetings with community
leaders. In April, Mark Mershon, assistant
director in charge of our New York field office,
spoke at a town hall meeting for the Pakistani
community in Jackson Heights. Field offices
in Detroit, Buffalo, and Washington, D.C.,
to name a few, meet regularly with Arab-American,
Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian communities.
Egyptian American Group (EAG) sought to meet
with the Newark division last summer after
the London bombings. Parents feared for their
kids and wanted to see where the FBI stood
on a range of issues. Meetings followed and
reached all the way to Cairo, where the Newark
office had arranged a meeting between EAG
members visiting Egypt and our legal attaché.
think we established some trust there,"
agent Wiser said.
In Your Community
Your Local FBI