Agencies Monitor Iraqis in the U.S. for Terror Threat

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Sat Nov 16 23:18:46 MST 2002

New York Times  November 17, 2002

Agencies Monitor Iraqis in the U.S. for Terror Threat


WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 - The Bush administration has begun to monitor
Iraqis in the United States in an effort to identify potential
domestic terrorist threats posed by sympathizers of the Baghdad
regime, senior government officials said.

The previously undisclosed intelligence program involves tracking
thousands of Iraqi citizens and Iraqi-Americans with dual citizenship
who are attending American universities or working at private
corporations, and who might pose a risk in the event of a United
States-led war against Iraq, officials said.

Some of the targets of the operation are being electronically
monitored under the authority of national security warrants. Others
are being selected for recruitment as informers, the officials said.

In the event of an American invasion of Iraq, officials would
intensify the program's mission through arrests and detentions of
Iraqis or Iraq sympathizers if they are believed to be planning
domestic terrorist operations....

Next week, federal authorities plan to begin interviewing
Arab-Americans, asking them to report suspicious activity related to
Iraq, a senior government official said. The interviews will be
voluntary, but in the past, such efforts have been criticized by
Arab-American groups. The F.B.I. is planning to meet with
Arab-American civic leaders to explain the nonclassified aspects of
the operation, officials said.

Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the White House Office of Homeland
Security, declined to comment on the surveillance program, which is
classified. The effort by intelligence agencies, particularly the
F.B.I., to strengthen and expand their counterterrorism programs
comes at a time of serious discussion in Congress and in the Bush
administration about whether to create a domestic intelligence agency
like MI-5, the British agency that collects information about
internal threats....

The operation draws on the experience of a smaller program that was
undertaken in the Persian Gulf war with Iraq in 1991, a conflict that
resulted in little immediate threat of terrorism in the United
States. During the war, the F.B.I. and the Immigration and
Naturalization Service conducted thousands of interviews with Iraqis
and other Arab-Americans in the United States and investigated
hundreds of Iraqis who had entered the United States on visitors'
visas and had not left when their entry permits expired.

A large number of government agencies are part of the new operation,
including the Pentagon, the F.B.I., the Central Intelligence Agency,
the immigration service, the State Department and the National
Security Agency, which eavesdrops on communications around the world,
officials said....

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