The director of the North Texas Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is a constituent part of a nation-wide CAIR Muslim political advocacy organization, told fellow Muslims to not cooperate with FBI investigators who are seeking information to protect the region following credible threats from the al-Qaeda terrorist organization to strike targets in Texas on the eve of Election Day. Alia Salem of CAIR said in a video distributed on Twitter and Facebook, "It was made apparent to us that the FBI has a list of a couple hundred people they are wanting to visit and ask a series of eight generic questions intended to drum up information about the attacks."
Saying that she had a “brief but important community announcement,” Salem said that she had received “confirmed reports that the Muslim community is being targeted by the FBI for interviews” in Texas and several other states. She said that the announcement was not meant as an alarm but to provide information to her community about their rights.
Salem called on fellow Muslims to “politely decline the interview” on the part of the FBI and tell any FBI agents who knock on their doors that they will only answer questions in the presence of an attorney. CAIR said that it can provide attorneys to members of the Muslim community. She advised Muslims to request a business card of the investigators and tell them an attorney would get in touch with them. She advised that they should not allow the FBI into their homes. "Please do not let an FBI agent into your home," said Salem.
Salem admitted, "The FBI is important and serves an important role in America," and added, "We're not here to inhibit their work, but to prepare the community in how to address [investigators]." However, she said that she wants to “protect our communities and our families from any unwarranted aggression or profiling and the like."
"Muslims, along with fellow Americans, are committed to doing their job in helping to make our community safer," Salem claimed. "That includes reporting suspicious activity. But for the Muslim community to be targeted as if we are guilty is inappropriate. If [law enforcement] wants to communicate with specific individuals, there should be no hindrance in doing that with an attorney."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott subsequently released a statement saying that "Texans should go about their daily lives as usual, but remain vigilant over the next several days and report any suspicious activity to state or local law enforcement." Abbott said, "The State of Texas will continue to do everything it can to ensure the safety and security of its citizens." The Texas Department of Public Safety said that it is adjusting "our level of vigilance to meet any potential or emerging threats," and that it is in constant touch with the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
On November 4, intelligence agencies put out an alert that al-Qaeda may be planning attacks the day before the election, according to CBS News. While the threat may be “aspirational,” law enforcement authorities are taking it seriously. According to CBS, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are working with other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to investigate and disrupt the proposed attack.
CAIR has been at the forefront of criticisms of Donald Trump, following a statement released by his campaign last year. In December 2015, Trump's campaign stated: "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population." Linking the response of Muslims in the United States to the FBI follow-up on domestic terror threats, Syed Fayyaz Hassan wrote at Salem's Facebook page: "Please don't be scared or afraid of these things. We are living in a democratic society, not a police state. Exercise your rights. FBI or any federal or state agency is supposed to be helping us and not scare us. They are hired and paid to protect us not to intimidate us. This is a very sensitive time, we are in the middle of most important elections in our lifetime. DONT BE SCARED and VOTE."
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