Advertisement Close

Dearborn Arab community concerned with FBI flyovers

posted on: Aug 6, 2015

The head of the Detroit FBI sought to reassure metro Detroit’s Arab-American and Muslim communities Wednesday in the wake of a report that the agency flew a spy plane over Dearborn.

Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit office Paul Abbate met with Arab-American leaders in Dearborn at the office of the Arab-American News along with U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) and Dearborn City Councilman Mike Sareini.

Several Arab-American groups released statements denouncing fly-overs.

Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News, said some local residents are “very nervous about the FBI, ICE, everybody related to the government. They’ve been harassed at borders, harassed at airports, harassed at home. They’ve been told over and over that they are a terrorist, and they are treated as such.”

But the FBI released a statement saying the agency does not target any group or region because of their ethnic or religious background. Abbate said that the FBI routinely uses airplanes for specific surveillance and does not conduct mass surveillance.

“We do not target specific communities,” Abbate said. He added that the FBI is “not aware of any specific or credible threat to the Detroit metropolitan area.”

Abbate did not comment on records that show a small plane circling around Dearborn over the weekend.

A 2010 single-engine Cessna, registration number N102BR, can be seen on on Saturday from roughly 7:30 pm. to 9 p.m., taking a flight path from the Harrison Township area then across Wayne County to southwest Dearborn, where it circles about 19 times before turning north.

A similar flight is taken Sunday evening, over an area including the Henry Ford Museum, Fairlane Green shopping center and a number of surrounding neighborhoods.

The area of Dearborn that the plane circled over includes a mosque, the American Moslem Center, but is not as heavily populated by Muslims as is the eastern section of Dearborn.

The plane is registered to OTV Leasing of Bristow, Va., records show. The Associated Press reported last spring that dozens of airplanes associated with the FBI were using fake companies with post-office boxes in Bristow, about an hour’s drive from FBI headquarters. The AP investigation listed OTV Leasing among at least 13 fake companies used by the FBI, the Detroit News reports.