FBI probe into arrest of US-origin terror suspects in Pak threatens to alienate US Muslims

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Washington, Dec. 20 (ANI): The arrest of five American Muslim men from Pakistan on terrorism charges has left the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) walking the tight rope, as the probe threatens to undermine the relationship between the FBI and US Muslims.

As U.S. officials are mulling over how aggressively to prosecute any potential case, some Muslim leaders are calling for leniency, saying the tough approach often used by the Bush administration would alienate a community whose relationship with law enforcement is uneasy.

"Charging them and throwing them in jail is not the solution. The government has to show some appreciation for the actions of the parents and the community. That will encourage other families to come forward," said Nihad Awad, national head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which approached the FBI on behalf of the families.

The men, ages 18 to 24, travelled to Pakistan without telling their families and were arrested near Lahore on Dec. 8.

Pakistani officials say the men were in touch with a Taliban recruiter and were aiming to join up with al-Qaeda and battle U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

But the law enforcement imperative could clash with US President Barack Obama's desire to improve relations with Muslims abroad and in the United States.

When asked about the arrests in Pakistan, Obama praised "the extraordinary contributions of the Muslim-American community."

U.S. law enforcement also views relations with Muslims as critical for its mandate to prevent terror attacks.

Supervisory Special Agent Katherine Schweit, spokeswoman for the Washington field office, said the FBI "recognizes there are issues and concerns that have been raised from the Muslim community and will continue to be raised. We always try to address them by maintaining a regular dialogue. We have to have the trust and understanding of the public to do our job," she added. (ANI)

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