Advertisement Close

FBI Defends Its Use of Informants, Mosques Are Not Targets, Detroit Chief Says

posted on: May 1, 2009

The head of the FBI in Detroit defended his agency’s work in a meeting Thursday with Arab-American leaders amid some allegations the agency is using undercover informants inside mosques.

While the FBI does use informants when necessary, it does not target people or institutions just because of their religion or ethnicity, said Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit office.

“We do not send sources into mosques, into synagogues, into churches to find out what’s going on,” Arena said at the Lebanese American Heritage Club in Dearborn. “We just don’t do that.”

In general, though, “the use of informants, the use of sources, is accepted police work,” Arena said. “I’m not going to lie to people and say, ‘We don’t do it.’ We do it with every program … mortgage fraud, gangs, public corruption — and counterterrorism is no different.”

About 50 people attended the meeting, which was organized by the Dearborn-based Congress of Arab American Organizations after allegations that the FBI had used an informant inside a California mosque.

Arena said that there are sometimes unsubstantiated rumors that whip up fears and paranoia within communities.

“There’s a mistrust and so that’s why we do these meetings,” he said.

Niraj Warikoo
Detroit Free Press

Picture caption:
Andrew Arena
Special Agent in Charge, Detroit