ANAHEIM – Background
checks and house calls by federal agents were among the concerns
raised Sunday evening by Muslim
and Arab-American community leaders at a town hall forum
with the FBI.
The meeting, which was proposed by a Multi-Cultural Advisory
Committee working with the agency since 2004, aimed to dispel
myths about the FBI and give residents a chance to ask agents
directly about issues ranging from counterterrorism to security
on the Internet.
"We need to be able to talk to the FBI and not be afraid
of the FBI," MCAC member Tareef Nashashibi told an audience
of about 80 at the Brookhurst Community Center in Anaheim
The FBI's Los Angeles office – which formed the committee
in response to community concerns after the Sept. 11, 2001
attacks – held a similar forum in Los Angeles earlier
Stephen Tidwell, assistant director in charge of the FBI
in Los Angeles, was peppered with questions on why background
checks take so long and what residents can do if an agent
comes to their house in an investigation.
The FBI currently receives 30,000 requests a week for background
checks from 80 different agencies – outpacing its capacity
to process them as quickly as it would like, Tidwell said.
Hadi Raza Khan of Irvine said he attended the forum to inquire
about his 70-year old wife, who has been waiting six months
for FBI clearance to become a U.S. citizen. "The FBI
is helping, but they are sometimes not solving issues expediently," he
By AMY TAXIN
The Orange County Register