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Entries in Interviews (2)

Thursday
Apr072011

FBI Has Interviewed 800 Libyans About Terror Threat

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Armed with scripted questions, FBI agents from ten major field offices including New York, Detroit, and Denver have fanned out across the country and interviewed more than 800 members of the Libyan community to determine if there is any threat of terror attacks against American targets because of U.S. military action in Libya.

The outreach campaign, which started several days ago, was addressed Wednesday by FBI Director Robert Mueller, who said the FBI is interviewing Libyans who live in the U.S. to be "on guard" against any possible terror attacks from Libya or to locate any Libyan agents operating inside U.S. borders.

"We want to make certain that we are on guard for the possibility of terrorist attacks emanating somewhere out of Libya," said Mueller, appearing before the House Appropriations Committee, "whether it be Gadhafi's forces or, in eastern Libya, the opposition forces who may have amongst them persons who in the past have had associations with terrorist groups."

According to officials the outreach included approaches to Libyans in the U.S. on student visas. In some cases students were of specific concern because their core studies were in areas that could have direct application to the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. The agents have approached students off campus, and all interviews conducted have been voluntary.

At the outset of military operations against Libya, U.S. officials expressed concern that Gadhafi could launch revenge attacks against the U.S. or European nations. Last month, John Brennan, assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said, "Gadhafi has the penchant to do things of a very concerning nature. We have to anticipate and be prepared for things he might try to do to flout the will of the international community."

Officials say one reason for the interviews is Libya's prior involvement in terror attacks like the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Asked whether there might also be danger from Libya's anti-Gadhafi rebels because of rumored ties between some factions and terror groups like Al Qaeda, Mueller said he did not know who those individuals with alleged terrorist links might be. "I'm not certain at this point that anybody really does," said Mueller. "This is an ongoing effort by us at the same time as the State Department and the [Central Intelligence] Agency and others to identity individuals who may be part of the opposition."

Mueller also told the committee that the FBI has concerns about former Gadhafi officials who have defected to the opposition. Said Mueller, "There may well be intelligence officers who are operating with different types of cover in the United States. We want to make sure we've identified these individuals to ensure no harm comes from them, knowing they may well have been associated with the Gadhafi regime."

FBI agents began interviewing large numbers of Libyan U.S. residents earlier this week in regions served by 10 field offices, including New York, Newark, Denver, Washington, D.C., Houston, and Detroit. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement Tuesday that reminded individuals of their civil rights when they are contacted by law enforcement but also noted, "American Muslims strongly support law enforcement and the protection of our national security."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Tuesday
Apr052011

FBI Interviews Libyan Nationals in US for Intelligence and Threat Info

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI has been interviewing Libyan nationals in the United States in a security measure to gather possible intelligence useful to military operations and  information about potential acts of terrorism and espionage. The effort has been taking place in 10 FBI field offices including Washington D.C., New York, Houston and Denver. According to FBI officials the effort is aimed at interviewing Libyan nationals who have U.S. visas and students studying here in the United States.
 
The effort is similar to FBI activities in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003 called “Operation Darkening Cloud,” which used data-mining techniques to identify and map potential Iraqi spies in the United States. The interviews were first reported in The Wall Street Journal.  Officials say the interviews are taking place as a precautionary measure to uncover any potential threat to U.S. interests domestically and overseas from Libya.
 
At the outset of the establishment of military operations against Libya, U.S. officials expressed some concern that Gadhafi could lash out with revenge attacks against the U.S. or European nations.

Asked about the interviews, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said, “The FBI is making contact with Libyan visitors to the U.S., based on the current situation in Libya; specifically, the goal is to determine whether there is a threat to Americans, either here or abroad. These visitors to the United States may be able to help determine the actual threat level against Americans, and the contact will also assist them in understanding what to do in the event of incidents or threats against them. The goal is to minimize the potential for each.”
 
“The interviews are being conducted to assist the FBI in fulfilling its responsibilities to prevent, interdict, and investigate national security and criminal threats against the United States,” The FBI spokesman said.

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