(WASHINGTON, DC - 9/6/2001) - American Muslim leaders today said a raid Wednesday on a Texas internet business was part of an "anti-Muslim witch hunt" promoted by the pro-Israel lobby in America. Early yesterday morning, more than 80 agents from the FBI, INS, Customs Service, and other federal agencies raided the offices of Infocom Corporation in Richardson, Texas. In a statement released at a news conference outside Infocom's headquarters, the Muslim groups said:
"American Muslims view yesterday's 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. We believe the genesis of this raid lies not in Washington, but in Tel Aviv.
"Hundreds of innocent American businesses and citizens are being harmed by the government's actions. This incident can only serve to marginalize millions of American Muslims who are committed to the betterment of our diverse society.
"While Muslims understand the FBI's mission to protect American citizens, we are concerned that the civil liberties of Infocom's owners and their many important clients were violated by this unexpected raid. Such an assault leaves the Muslim community and the public at large with many unanswered questions and a lingering sense of violation. We expect the FBI to provide a prompt and full disclosure of the circumstances that led to this raid, the basis of their suspicions and the evidence for which they were searching.
"It is disturbing that American law enforcement agencies are now perceived by American Muslims and Arab-Americans as being tools in the hands of a foreign government. Our elected officials must not allow Israel to import its unjust and discriminatory policies to this country or to mislabel peaceful challenges to those policies as 'support for terrorism.'"
Groups represented at the news conference included American Muslim Council, American Muslims for Jerusalem, American Muslim Alliance, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Association for Palestine, Muslim Alliance in North America, Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Muslim Student Association of US and Canada.
Infocom hosts web sites for some 500 companies worldwide. For several years, Infocom and other Muslim entities in Texas have been the focus of pressure from pro-Israel groups who object to American Muslim support for Palestinian human and political rights. Authorities did not reveal the motive for the raid except to say it was part of an "ongoing investigation."
One of Infocom's clients whose web site was shut down by the raid is Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television network. Al-Jazeera, a popular and respected Arabic news outlet, has frequently been criticized by Israel for its reporting on that state's brutal policies in the Occupied Territories.
The raid came just weeks after a Wall Street Journal column by Steven Emerson and Daniel Pipes that called for just such an action by the government. They wrote: "... the federal authorities should use the tools it already has for closing down these Web sites and organizations."