Hassan Shibly, a lawyer and the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations Florida says the FBI questioned Muslims in at least eight states over the weekend seeking information about a possible threat from al-Qaida to carry out pre-election terrorist attacks. Among those questioned were a youth group leader and several wealthy doctors.
Shibly said the only connection he was aware of was their religion and ethnicity. He said, “It appeared only Muslims of Afghani and Pakistani descent were questioned. The FBI actions . . . to conduct a sweep of American Muslim leaders the weekend before the election is completely outrageous and . . . borderline unconstitutional. That’s the equivalent of the FBI visiting churchgoing Christians because someone overseas was threatening to blow up an abortion clinic. It’s that preposterous and outrageous.”
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued statements that said they were “vigilant and well-postured” to defend against terrorist attacks in the U.S. and were working daily with law enforcement and intelligence partners “to identify and disrupt any potential threat to public safety.”
Shibly worries this “sweep,” just days before the election, could reinforce the anti-Muslim rhetoric that the Republican candidate for president has often used in his political stump speeches. “Unfortunately we’re dealing with an environment that’s not very friendly to American Muslims,” he said. “The environment is very hostile to the American Muslim community.”