The FBI interviewed Muslims in Texas and around the country, an advocate group leader said, after a CBS News report released Friday said there was an alleged terrorism threat for Monday, the day before the election.
Alia Salem, director of the North Texas Council on American-Islamic Relations, posted a video on social media Saturday to warn Muslims about the interviews.
“We have received confirmed reports that the Muslim community is being targeted by the FBI for interviews, this weekend in particular and especially in Texas,” Salem says in the video.
As of Sunday night, CAIR had received 70 phone calls about the interviews, with 14 reported firsthand visits to Muslims in North Texas, Salem said Monday. She said it appears most of the people contacted by the FBI have Pakistani or Afghani origins.
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Salem said most of the people have been asked about their travel habits and political leanings, and she worries that the inquiries will keep some Muslims from voting on Election Day.
“The unintended consequence of this is voter suppression,” Salem said.
The Dallas Morning-News reported that a representative of the FBI’s Dallas office declined to comment on the reports.
Salem urged people to politely decline the interview without an attorney present, take the investigator’s business card and not to invite an investigator into a home.
“Our law enforcement is very important, the FBI serves a very important purpose in our country, but we have to do so observing our rights and helping to protect our families and communities from any unwarranted aggression or profiling,” Salem said.
Salem said Monday that the group is encouraging everyone to cooperate with authorities, but not “at the expense of waiving their rights.”
On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement saying his office is working with law enforcement and the Texas Department of Public Safety to monitor the potential terrorist threat. He said residents “should go about their daily lives as usual,” but should report suspicious activity.
Staff reporter Diane Smith contributed to this report.