"El Shukrijumah is possibly involved with al Qaeda terrorist activities and, if true, poses a serious threat to U.S. citizens and interests worldwide," the FBI said in a news release yesterday.
The FBI interviews and scattered arrests of Iraqi nationals yesterday by agents and immigration officers prompted widespread concern among Iraqi and Arab American groups. Authorities stressed that the efforts were aimed primarily at enlisting help in the war effort.
The FBI called Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, 27, a suspected al Qaeda member, an "imminent threat to U.S. citizens and interests."
(Fbi Via AFP)
The FBI plans to interview 460 Iraqis in the Washington and Baltimore areas. In Michigan, home to the nation's largest concentration of Iraqi nationals, about 400 Iraqis are expected to be asked to participate in interviews. "We want to do some intelligence-gathering regarding the military effort in Iraq and some intelligence information that the FBI is looking for," FBI spokeswoman Dawn Clenney said. "These interviews are strictly voluntary, nonconfrontational."
Lavinia Limon, executive director of Immigration and Refugee Services of America, said an Iraqi-born refugee who is a U.S. citizen living in the Washington area told her that two FBI agents had interviewed him at his house for about 20 minutes Wednesday morning. According to the account, the agents wanted to know his views on the war with Iraq and whether he knew of anyone who might be planning attacks on the United States.
"The agents were very professional and very polite," Limon said, "but it was still very disconcerting to him. . . . I asked him if they told him it was optional, and he said, 'No; they didn't.' "
Also yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced that he is offering state health departments 20 percent of their annual bioterrorism grants immediately. The $14.2 million could be spent on smallpox vaccinations, hospital improvements, training for chemical and nuclear attacks and emergency planning.
The administration also is loading portions of a national emergency medical supply stockpile onto planes and trucks to allow for quicker distribution in an emergency, said Jerome Hauer, acting assistant secretary for public health preparedness at HHS.
Staff writers Ceci Connolly, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Nurith Aizenmann, Christopher Lee, John Mintz, Susan Schmidt and Allan Lengel and research editor Margot Williams contributed to this report.