you, Dr. Basha, for the introduction,
and good afternoon everyone.
appreciate the invitation to talk with
you today, to talk to you about the relationship
of the FBI with the American Muslim community.
I am here because we must all be in this
war against terrorism together and because
a sound and trusting relationship with
the Muslim community can only bear the
fruit of a safer nation for us all. I
appreciate the help and support many in
the American Muslim communities have already
given us, especially over the past nine
months, and I call on you, as Americans,
to continue working with us to defeat
terror. As we all know, it will be a long
and difficult struggle.
realize that like all Americans, Muslim
Americans have been deeply impacted by
the events of September 11. You lost family,
friends, and fellow Muslims that day.
I know that the American Muslim community
has suffered in other ways from the events
of September 11. Sadly, some individuals
in this country have questioned the loyalty
of some Muslim Americans to this country
just because of their race and religion.
In some cases, American Muslims have been
targets of discrimination and hateful
words. Some houses of worship have been
damaged and desecrated. A number of Muslim
Americans -- and others wrongly believed
to be Muslims -- have been threatened,
attacked, and even killed. These attacks
against you and your communities are not
only reprehensible, like terrorism, they
are attacks against humanity.
a time like this, when you are vulnerable,
it is important that you have access to
your government. That is why, within hours
of the attacks, the FBI opened a dialogue
with many Muslim and Arab American organizations.
This is not the first time we have worked
together; we have had a productive and
beneficial relationship with the members
of your community for several years. But
we did come together with a new sense
of urgency. We were told of concerns about
retaliatory attacks in your communities
in the wake of the terrorist hijackings,
and we in the FBI promised to do something
response to your concerns, the President,
the Attorney General, and I all emphatically
stressed that such attacks would not be
tolerated and would be prosecuted to the
fullest extent of the law. And we followed
through on that commitment. In the days
following September 11, the FBI investigated
numerous attacks and threats against Arab,
Muslim, and Sikh Americans. In all, we
have launched more than 360 investigations
in concert with state and local law enforcement.
Well over 100 individuals have already
been charged with federal, state, and
local crimes. Fortunately, the number
of retaliatory assaults dropped off quickly,
but our commitment to aggressive investigations
remains as strong as ever. And we appreciate
all the support your communities and others
have given us in identifying victims and
bringing to justice those who have committed
these terrible acts.
as we have investigated these hate crimes,
we in the FBI have continued to build
our relationships with the American Muslim
community in other areas. Shortly after
the attacks, and again in February, I
met personally with a number of American
Muslim leaders to discuss our September
11 investigation and to hear their thoughts
and concerns. In September, we also asked
our 56 field offices to reach out to Muslim
Americans in their communities, to address
your concerns, to build relationships,
and to ask once again for help.
I prepared to talk with you today, I asked
our Special Agents in Charge to update
me on the steps they had taken. Their
response was overwhelming. They wrote
back with story after story of productive
meetings, insights, generosity, and substantive
assistance. In all, our field offices
attended more than 500 meetings and made
some 6,000 personal contacts in Muslim
and Arab American communities. They went
to mosques, town halls, and media briefings.
They held recruiting drives. They invited
-- and graduated -- members of Muslim
communities at FBI Citizens' Academies.
the same time, many in the American Muslim
community have come forward to support
the FBI in very visible ways. Many leaders
have generously sent educational materials
to our field offices and to our headquarters.
They have taken the time to talk with
our Agents and support professionals to
help them better understand Muslim perspectives
and Muslim beliefs. Muslim Americans have
cooperated with our interviews and supported
our investigations. In some cases, Arab
American newspapers have even provided
us with useful information. The active
work of many in the American Muslim community
in cities nationwide has merited public
thanks and praise.
But perhaps the greatest act of support
has been the way Muslim and Arab Americans
have responded to our urgent need for
translators. Six days after September
11, I announced that the FBI was seeking
Arabic and Farsi language experts. The
response was extraordinary. Within hours,
our switchboard was overwhelmed with calls.
Those who came forward included doctors,
lawyers, engineers, academics -- Muslim
and Arab Americans from all walks of life
who were willing to quit their jobs, come
to work for the FBI, and give something
back to their country in the fight against
As a result, we have doubled our number
of Arabic translators and linguists, and
many more candidates are in the process
of being hired. Already, these language
experts have made important contributions.
They have helped us substantially reduce
the backlog of materials needing to be
translated. They have gone to Guantanamo
Bay to help us interview prisoners. They
have supported our FBI offices around
I want to thank the many Muslim Americans
who have provided help to the FBI over
the past nine months. It has been invaluable.
At the same time, I ask you again in the
strongest of terms for your continued
support. Because the reality is, we need
it more than ever.
no mistake about it, our country remains
vulnerable to attack. Day after day, intelligence
about potential attacks continues to pour
in from across the globe, prompting warnings
and keeping our nation in a permanent
state of alert. Time after time, Al Qaeda
has openly threatened America, saying
more attacks are on the way.
President has asked the FBI to do everything
in its power -- within the bounds of the
Constitution -- to prevent the next attack
in concert with our partners in the law
enforcement and intelligence communities.
We are fully committed to doing so. But
it is no easy task. Our society is so
open, our population so large, our landmarks
so plentiful, and our borders so extensive.
We must head off attacks and track down
terrorists and those who support terrorism
in our own cities and neighborhoods, and
we must also be there to help every nation
where America has a presence and every
country where terrorism has put down roots.
prevent terrorism we must have: excellent
intelligence work; superior analytic capability;
robust investigations; state-of-the-art
technology, seamless partnerships; and
the strong support of the people -- all
people. The FBI is racing to improve in
every one of those areas, and that is
driving what is perhaps the most fundamental
transformation in our history. We have
restructured our Headquarters. We have
created a range of prevention programs
that simply didn't exist before September
11, and refocused many that did. With
nearly half-a-billion dollars in funds
from Congress, we are overhauling our
technology as quickly as we can given
how far behind current capabilities we
are today. To vastly improve our ability
to manage and analyze information, we
are hiring a crop of new analysts, borrowing
resources from agencies like the CIA,
and improving the skills of those on board.
And we are rethinking and rebuilding relationships
with a range of organizations and agencies,
including our 650,000 colleagues in law
All of this is putting a tremendous strain
on the men and women of the FBI. They
are working long hours, missing dinners
and soccer games and birthdays, all so
that they don't miss that one lead that
might prevent the next attack. They are
changing how they do things in mid-stream,
adjusting to a vast array of changes in
their operations. They are reaching out
to their many colleagues, coordinating
with every agency under the sun, in ways
they have never done before.
is clear, however, that the men and women
of the FBI can't do it all alone. The
Bureau has 11,000 Agents, about one quarter
of New York City's police force.
are one nation, and we are all in this
together. The FBI needs the support not
just of its law enforcement and intelligence
partners; we need the support of every
person within our borders. There is no
question that all of you can help. You
can help us better understand your communities
and the concerns of those who live in
them. You can help by telling us about
suspicious behavior, as thousands of Americans
have done since September 11. You can
help by staying alert wherever you might
be, like the courageous flight attendants
and passengers who foiled the "shoe bomber"
over the waters of the Atlantic. Most
especially, you can help by working to
overcome the differences that separate
us all, the dividing lines of beliefs,
and culture that incite terrorism and
support for terrorism.
also need help educating our Agents in
dealing with Muslim communities here and
around the world. The more culturally
fluent our investigators are, the more
effective and respectful our investigations
will be. For some time, the FBI has incorporated
ethics and cultural diversity into new
Agent training and continuing education
programs for all Bureau employees. But
we need to do more. And you can help us
Let me give an example. Almost a year
before the attacks of September 11 an
Agent from our Atlanta Field Office went
to interview two women originally from
Afghanistan. The interview went well.
The Agent handled himself professionally,
and he treated both of these individuals
with respect and courtesy. But he later
found out that he had inadvertently violated
Afghan culture by sitting down in the
home of these two women without an Afghan
adult male present. Later that day, two
Agents and four Afghan representatives
met over dinner to bridge the gap of differences.
Everyone came away with a better understanding
of each other's concerns and perspectives.
That dinner was a success and the ultimate
result was an FBI program called "Bridging
the Gap" that is raising awareness and
understanding among Atlanta immigrants
in concert with a local project of the
let me fast forward to just this month.
In the first week in June, we held a four-day
training conference for FBI managers.
As part of that training, we brought in
a panel of diverse speakers, including
a local Imam who articulated the viewpoints
and concerns of the Muslim American community.
And this past Tuesday, Dr. Aziza Al-Hibri
was kind enough to participate in a nationwide
satellite broadcast on Arab-American and
Islamic Cultural Awareness for FBI investigators,
our multi-agency Joint Terrorism Task
Forces, and U.S. Attorneys.
the months to come, we have still more
plans underway. Next month, we will begin
a national program to begin counter-terrorism
training for every member of our many
Joint Terrorist Task Forces, including
at least four hours on the tenets and
cultures of Islam. We're also expanding
similar training for new and current Agents.
I finish, I would like to return for a
moment to the impact of the events of
September 11th, to the importance of building
a relationship between the Muslim community
and the FBI, and to issues that may strain
our best intentions in that regard.
I am sure you are aware, my appearance
here today has generated some controversy.
And while that did not deter me from coming,
as with most such matters I believe it
is best to address it openly. My reason
for being here is simple: to continue
our discussion and help build a relationship
that I am convinced is beneficial to us
all. But I think it is also important
to be open and frank about the concerns
of those who urged me not to attend.
all Americans, you were shocked and outraged
by the terrorist hijackings and quickly
condemned them. As Dr. Basha has said,
echoing sentiments across the nation,
Muslim Americans felt violated by the
attacks, and he wasted no time in denouncing
those horrible acts in the strongest language
you have not always spoken with one voice.
Unfortunately, persons associated with
this organization have in the past made
statements that indicate support for terrorism
and for terrorist organizations. I think
we can -- Muslims and non-Muslim alike
-- justifiably be outraged by such statements.
No perceived political or other agenda
justifies acts of terrorism. We must be,
as Dr. Basha is, loud in our condemnation
of acts of terrorism.
must -- again, together -- speak out against
terrorism, and -- again, together -- act
to thwart terrorism. As we move forward
into the future, what's clear is that
we are operating in a different and dangerous
environment, one that requires all of
us to be more aware and more diligent
when it comes to our security. America
has always been a land of diversity, a
nation rich in ethnic and cultural chemistry.
But what has always seen us through the
tough times is our unity. All through
history, Americans have found a way to
put aside their differences and to step
forward with courage in times of need.
War II was such a time, and there are
many examples of Americans who overcame
years of adversity to make a profound
difference for the future. Like the Tuskegee
Airmen, a group of courageous and spirited
African-Americans, who battled discrimination
long before they took on the enemy in
the skies of Europe. Like the Navajo Indians
who, with their beautiful and sophisticated
native language nearing extinction, created
a code for the Marines in the Pacific
Theater, a code that could never be cracked.
America faces a new, potentially more
dangerous global conflict. The threat
is elusive, with ever shifting terrorist
tactics and enemies who are nearly invisible.
The weapons are instruments of terror:
from explosive-laden vehicles to "dirty
bombs." And the front lines are right
here at home, in our own streets and cities
need to pull together as a nation. We
in the FBI need to do our part, and we
are counting on the American Muslim community
to do its part. I look forward to working
with members of your community in the
weeks and months ahead. Thank you very