Reports of FBI Visits Prompt Reminder of Legal Rights

Anaheim , CA : A CAIR message states: The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) has said that CAIR offices nationwide have been receiving an increasing number of reports of FBI agents, along with local law enforcement and Department of Homeland Security officers, visiting and interviewing American Muslims, particularly members of the Pakistani community. Reports received by CAIR-LA describe visits by the FBI as "community outreach" visits.

Considering recent events, and the increase in FBI/Joint Terrorism Task Force-related (JTTF, including officers from the Department of Homeland Security and local police or sheriff departments) incidents reported to our office, it is important that Muslims understand their rights when visited by FBI/JTTF at their home or workplace:

1) Understand that your providing information to the FBI or any law enforcement, absent a subpoena, is strictly voluntary. You are not obligated under law to answer any of law enforcement's questions, other than giving your name and sometimes your address.

2) You may choose to have an attorney accompany or represent you for any interview or questioning. We strongly recommend you consult with an attorney regarding the risks and benefits of being interviewed by law enforcement in your specific case. CAIR-LA may provide legal assistance, or can refer you to an attorney. 

3) If an FBI/JTTF agent shows up at your home or workplace, and they do not have a search or arrest warrant, you have no obligation to let them in.

4) If they do have an arrest or search warrant, you can still exercise your right to remain silent. Comply with all directives and do not physically resist an officer. Be polite and respectful at all times. Remember that you retain the right to remain silent and do not have to comment or respond to any inquiries. You also have the right to an attorney.

5) If an agent or officer says they have some questions for you, you have the right to refuse to speak to them and/or you may tell the agents or officers that you will have your attorney contact them if they wish to speak to you. Again, CAIR-LA may provide legal assistance, or can refer you to an attorney.

6) Note that anything you say to an agent or officer can be used against you in a court of law, and lying to an agent or officer is a criminal offense.

7) Should you decide to speak to agents alone despite the risks, note that you may set the conditions of the interview, including choosing when and where the interview is to take place, having a third party present such as a family member or community leader, and deciding what questions to answer, and refusing to sign any documents. You may cancel the interview at any time.

8) Be sure to get the names, agencies, badge numbers, and business cards of ALL agents or officers.

9) Contact your attorney and/or CAIR-LA to report the interview/incident and to discuss next steps. If you feel that your civil rights were violated, you may also file a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. CAIR-LA can help you with this process.
10) To file a complaint with CAIR-LA, please go here: CAIR-LA Civil Rights Page


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.