Washington, DC, Aug. 6
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today questioned the high-profile announcement of arrests of Muslims in alleged terrorism cases by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI, while simultaneously downplaying equally serious anti-terrorism undercover operations involving Americans of other ethnic backgrounds. Yesterday, Aug. 5, arrests in two separate undercover cases were announced with very different levels of publicity, and consequent coverage by the media.
In one case, a Deputy Attorney General and an FBI Assistant Director held a press conference in Washington, DC to announce the arrest of two alleged conspirators in a terrorism-related money-laundering sting. The defendants, who are associated with an Albany, NY, mosque, are accused of agreeing to launder money they believed was coming from the purchase of a shoulder-fired missile.
On the same day, an announcement was made by a US Attorney in Chicago about another undercover anti-terrorism arrest. In this case, Gale William Nettles, 66, was arrested with a pickup truck containing 1,500 pounds of fertilizer he allegedly thought was ammonium nitrate, the same substance used to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995. Nettles is accused of plotting to bomb a federal courthouse in Chicago.
ADC contacted the DOJ and the FBI asking for a timely and clear explanation of the apparent double standard used in announcing the Albany and Chicago arrests, when they both appear to be dealing with terrorism suspects.
ADC also noted that the Deputy Attorney General and the FBI Assistant Director failed to state that the individuals implicated in the Albany case do not represent the Muslim and Arab-American communities. Such a statement would have helped prevent the announcement from reinforcing negative stereotypes, fear and bigotry. ADC has documented an increase in hate speech following the press conference.
While ADC is troubled by these aspects of the DOJ-FBI press conference, the organization is fully supportive of efforts to keep our country safe and to investigate, arrest, and prosecute criminals, regardless of ethnicity or religious affiliation.
Washington, DC, Aug. 6