Somali cab drivers wary of FBI

Posted on 04/02/2011


ST. LOUIS, Feb. 3 (UPI) — Somali taxi drivers in St. Louis say after one driver was charged with supporting a terrorist organization, the FBI made them feel like suspects.

Drivers who did not want their names used told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch they were asked to report to airport police and then questioned individually by FBI agents about overseas contacts. The agents also tried to get access to their cell phone memory cards and personal computers.

“They sounded like when they are talking to you that you are guilty,” said one cabdriver,

The interrogations began after one driver was arrested Nov. 1 on charges of wiring $6,000 to al-Shabaab. The group, believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida, is fighting Somalia’s weak government.

Jim Hacking III, an immigration lawyer who works with the Council on American- Islamic Relations, said he used to work with the FBI, helping agents build bridges to the Somali community. But he said while the questioning was going on his calls were not returned.

“I take the position now, you’re a fool to talk to the FBI without an attorney,” he said. “I recognize they have a difficult job to do. I just think the way they are doing it is backwards. You can’t build bridges at the same time you’re scaring people.”

Source: UPI