Press Release

For Immediate Release
July 9, 2004

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

Department Of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation Reinforce Commitment to working with leaders of Muslim, Sikh and Arab-American Communities

Washington, DC – Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III recently met with national leaders of Muslim, Sikh and Arab-American organizations to address issues including hate crimes and civil rights violations, and to enlist the assistance of these communities in the current challenges in the war on terror. The Director’s meeting was his sixth bi-annual meeting since September 2001 focusing on the FBI’s commitment to the Muslim, Sikh and Arab-American communities.

Recent meetings focused on Director Mueller’s directive given to the leaders of the FBI’s 56 field offices to increase contacts with Muslim, Sikh and Arab-American leaders within their territories beginning July 9, 2004 and to personally address concerns and issues in the community during the 2004 threat period. This initiative is a continuation of a tasking Director Mueller ordered in late 2001 for each FBI field office to establish contacts with community organizations and leaders in their territories.

“Credible reporting indicates that al Qaeda is planning a large-scale attack in America in an effort to disrupt our democratic process. While we currently lack precise knowledge about when, where and how they are planning to attack, we are actively working to gain that knowledge. As part of that effort, we are again reaching out to our partners in the Muslim and Arab-American communities for any information they may have. Their assistance has proven valuable in the past, and we continue to seek their help in this time of enhanced threat,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft. “In addition, our outreach to those perceived to be of Muslim, Arab and Sikh descent is part of our strong ongoing campaign to prosecute bias-motivated attacks. American ideals and values are not limited by race or religion, and freedom-loving people are our greatest allies in the war on terrorism. Today, we reaffirm our commitment to working with and protecting those who love freedom.”

Dr. Maher Hathout of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) said, “MPAC’s National Grassroots Campaign to Fight Terrorism and Hate Crimes underscores the importance of the American Muslim community as part of the solution in its commitment to protect our country in partnership with law enforcement.” The Attorney General and Director recognized the importance of MPAC’s anti-terrorism initiatives, and encouraged similar efforts to educate the Muslim community about federal counterterrorism efforts.

Manjit Singh, President of the Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force (SMART) stated, “The Justice Department has done a phenomenal job of bringing us together and they have shown that they recognize that many in the Sikh American community continue to face hate crimes. We have laid the foundation for consistent outreach from FBI field offices around the country, and we look forward to continuing to train new and existing agents to effectively work with the Sikh American community.”

As Director Mueller stated in his recent testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, “none of these successes would have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of our partners in state and municipal law enforcement and our counterparts around the world. The Muslim, Iraqi, and Arab-American communities have also contributed a great deal to our success. 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. All of us understand that the evolving threats we face today, and those we will face tomorrow, can only be defeated if we work together.”