The 49-year-old doctor is a U.S. citizen and has a thriving practice in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, but he does not feel safe from the horrors of his native Iraq and said he is too torn by conflicting emotions to give his name.

He remembers patients whom he saw in Baghdad and whose kidneys had failed under torture. So, he said, he and other Iraqi Americans "have two feelings: We hate {President Saddam} Hussein and wish him dead. At the same time, we feel Kuwait is part of Iraq."

In scattered U.S. communities where Iraqi immigrants have taken strong root -- Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York -- a sickening mix of dread, disgust and exasperation has reinforced a habitual Iraqi-American instinct to avoid attention, even as they nurse private grief about what has happened to their ancient homeland under an oil-hungry dictatorship.

Iraqi Americans number no more than 150,000 and are not readily identifiable, but they have heard and read how Americans' tolerance of minorities and respect for civil rights have changed in wartime. Many are expressing concern whether an escalation of the Persian Gulf crisis will hurt them, perhaps even revive the relocation camps of the 1940s.

"There are rumors and other information that suggest internments may be likely, just as the Japanese were" during World War II, said a 28-year-old Iraqi American who prefers to be known by his pen name, Dean Al-Haque, and edits an anti-Saddam newsletter in Los Angeles. "It may very well happen. It's a distinct possibility."

As in every Mideast conflict in which Arabs seemed pitted against Americans, crudely printed hate letters and obscene telephone calls have begun to reach homes and offices of anyone easily identified as an Arab American.

The Arab manager of a gasoline station in Orange County, Calif., was phoned by a woman who erroneously called him an Iraqi and said she would burn down his station. An anonymous caller told an Arab American in Detroit that he would be killed if any American died as a result of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. A young Palestinian was struck in a Chicago market and told to go back to Iraq.

One call from a man with a New York accent, recorded Tuesday at the western regional office of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Los Angeles, was typical:

"When somebody comes in to order lamb, you slice the throat right in front of the customers. That's the way Arabs should be portrayed. Maybe a few more holdup men, and, oh yeah, Arab prostitutes with their faces covered. That's the way we should show Arabs. Drop dead, every one of you."

Such hate and ignorance, no matter how isolated, adds to frustration felt by Iraqi Americans who immigrated precisely because of the mindless cruelty that overtook their birthplace under Saddam.

"We're seeing Americans turning against us, even though we're the same people who tried to warn the U.S. about this tyrant," said a 25-year-old member of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles who asked that his name not be used. "The main feeling I have is one of bitterness. For years, our people have been trying to tell the U.S. government . . . about conditions inflicted on our people."

In the Washington area, the Iraqi-American population numbers about 500. The older generation, mostly professionals such as doctors, attorneys and engineers, who arrived in the 1950s and 1960s to escape economic deprivation, are U.S. citizens and have children born in the United States.

The rise of militant socialism and Islam in Iraq has produced a steady stream of emigrants, often professionals and members of the Chaldean Christian faith, seeking more stable economies and freer speech in Western Europe and North America. Some estimates put the number of U.S. residents of Iraqi descent as high as 300,000, but the actual number is probably less than half of that, with the 1980 Census showing only 32,121 U.S. residents born in Iraq.

Zachary Lockman, a Harvard University historian, said Iraqis have been much less active in the Arab-American community than Lebanese and Palestinians. Iraqi community leaders said this week that they have recorded few, if any, acts of violence or intimidation against individual Iraqi Americans since the invasion of Kuwait.

Abdul-Haq Khalidi, 39, an American University student from Baghdad who has lived in Washington for four years, said he felt no hostility from his U.S. friends and expects none. He said his major concern involves the threat of war and the safety of his daughter, 13, who lives in Iraq.

One local Iraqi student, who asked that he and his university not be named, said he had seen graffiti calling for Iraqis to be kicked out of the United States. "I personally am against Saddam Hussein, but I don't think people will stop to ask me my views when they come to beat me up," he said.

Leaders of organizations representing Arab Americans in general say rising passions are obvious. "There is absolutely no question that, since the invasion of Kuwait, there has been an increase in discrimination against Arabs all over, and it will continue as long as the situation becomes more violent overseas," said Albert Mokhiber, director of legal services for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee here.

Iraqi Americans watching the drama of Americans held hostage know that relatives in Baghdad also are at risk and thus avoid being publicly identified. One Iraqi American here said he did not want to draw attention while trying to get more relatives out of Iraq. The Glendale doctor said he was certain that "the government of Iraq will take action against my family there if I say something they don't like" and that "if I had stayed, I'd be dead by now."

No matter how deeply Iraqi Americans hate Saddam, it has not made them unqualified supporters of U.S. policy in the Mideast.

"When Iraq invaded Iran, the world turned a blind eye to Iraq," said a Baghdad-born Los Angeles resident who became a U.S. citizen 17 years ago. "Now that certain oil interests are in question, economic sanctions and military interventions are being rushed toward policy. . . . It will not solve the problem of having dictators like Hussein."

Al-Haque, the U.S.-born son of an Iraqi-American physician, has been warning in his newsletter, "The Iraqi Timebomb," of the perils of ignoring Saddam. He has published detailed acounts of Iraqi human-rights abuses, including testimony of a mother whose son, a medical student, was arrested without charge and kept hidden until she was called to pick up his bloody, tortured corpse 10 months later.

"The U.S. is now facing what the Iraqi people have been facing for years," Al-Haque said. "I'm not blaming all of Iraq's problems on U.S. policy. . . . But if the U.S. had not supported Iraq in the Iraq-Iran war, {Saddam} would not be here today."

"American policy is hypocritical," Al-Haque said. "It stands for human rights but only acts when oil interests are put in jeopardy." U.S. failure to block, or even object strenuously to, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon bothers many Iraqi Americans, they said.

California state Sen. Wadie Deddeh (D-Chula Vista), 69, born in Baghdad and apparently the highest elected U.S. official of Iraqi descent, said, "Kuwait is not an area where we should spend our military energy or sacrifice American blood."

Whatever their doubts, Iraqi Americans have refrained from public criticism of the Bush administration, and some have offered strong moral support.

Salman Yono, chairman of the Chaldean Federation of America, wrote Bush Tuesday offering to help him interpret Iraqi government moves. Noori Mansour, an Iraqi-American businessman in Westland, Mich., said, "We came here to have the freedom of expression that we couldn't have in Iraq. There are many here who support America 100 percent."

Amer Goryoka, who left Iraq in 1974 and became a U.S. citizen in 1980, owns a small business in San Diego and senses the anger in his adopted country over what Saddam has done.

"As an American, I do support this country," he said. "But if war happens, fellow Americans will be mad. They might transfer their opinion or feelings on us. . . . They might think we're behind something, even though we're just here as American citizens."

Mathews and Walker reported from Los Angeles. Staff writer Keith Kendrick in Washington and special correspondent Lauren Ina in Chicago contributed to this report.