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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
FBI accused of anti-Muslim bias
FBI headquarters BBC
FBI denies accusations of anti-Muslim bias
Muslim leaders have accused the FBI of conducting an "anti-Muslim witch hunt" following a raid on the Texas offices of a Middle East internet service provider.

An 80-strong US terrorism task force searched the Texas offices of Infocom Corporation on Wednesday and Thursday.

The company is host to a number of Arabic websites, including that of the Arab world's leading independent television news channel.

"American Muslims view the action as just one of a long list of attempts by the pro-Israel lobby to intimidate and silence all those who wish to see Palestinian Muslims and Christians free themselves of a brutal apartheid-like occupation," said a statement by a coalition of Muslim groups.

The FBI has denied any anti-Arab bias, saying the raid was "one aspect of a two-year investigation that is ongoing".

Websites shut down

Agents from the FBI and other federal agencies searched computer files at the company's headquarters, taking boxes out of the building.

We have deep concerns that this once again is an attempt to rush to judgment and to marginalise the American Muslim community

Mahdi Bray, Muslim Public Affairs Council
Infocom said the raid resulted in a temporary shutdown of websites it hosted for about 500 customers, including that run by Al-Jazeera television and the newspaper Al-Sharq, both based in the Gulf state of Qatar.

A lawyer for Infocom said the company had no links to terrorist groups and was co-operating with the FBI.

He said many of the sites were able to start up again on other servers, while the office remained sealed off by FBI agents.

"We have nothing to hide. We are co-operating 110 % with the FBI," said lawyer Mark Enoch.

'Pattern of bias'

Muslim leaders have rallied around Infocom. In a statement, several American Islamic groups condemned the search as "an anti-Muslim witch hunt promoted by the pro-Israel lobby in America".

This is a criminal investigation, not a political investigation

Lori Bailey, FBI spokeswoman
"We have deep concerns that this once again is an attempt to rush to judgement and to marginalise the American Muslim community," said Mahdi Bray, political adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

"There is a pattern of bias that often permeates all of these types of investigations."

The FBI denied the raid politically motivated. A spokeswoman said the investigation was not aimed at Infocom's clients, but did not say why the company had been targeted.

"This is a criminal investigation, not a political investigation," said spokeswoman Lori Bailey. "We're hoping to find evidence of criminal activity.

"It had nothing to do with anti-Islamic or anti-Palestinian or anti-Middle East issues or anything like that," said special agent Bailey.

See also:

12 May 01 | Americas
McVeigh shows FBI 'in turmoil'
30 May 01 | Americas
Embassy bombs: The FBI trail
31 May 01 | Americas
FBI agent denies spying
01 May 01 | Americas
FBI chief steps down
20 Feb 01 | Americas
Who's being spied on?
31 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Muslims sue AOL over chat rooms
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