A civil rights organization says Muslim-Americans in eight states were questioned over the weekend over a pre-election terror threat.
The FBI announced last week that it had received a threat from al Qaeda, planned for Monday. The threat targeted the states of New York, Virginia and Texas, but no further details were released.
Over the weekend, the Council on American Islamic Relations received reports from Muslim-Americans in eight states, who said they were approached by FBI agents who wanted to speak to them about the alleged threat. Those states included California, Washington State, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kansas Oklahoma, Florida and Texas.
Hassan Shibly, a lawyer and director of CAIR in Florida, told the Washington Post that he received six calls about FBI agents asking questions this weekend.
Shibly says his clients were asked a series of eight questions, many of them related directly to al Qaeda.
The threat was allegedly related to Faruq al Qatani, a top al Qaeda leader who was killed in a U.S. drone strike on October 23.
The people who were interviewed this weekend were asked if they knew anyone killed in the strikes, and if they knew anyone who might want to harm Americans at home or abroad.
Shibly said there appeared to be no connection between those interviewed (who included a youth group leader and several wealthy doctors) and the threat, other than their religion or ethnicity. All of those interviewed appeared to be of Afghani or Pakistani descent.
After receiving the reports that Muslim-Americans were being questioned by the FBI in the lead-up to the election, CAIR officials around the country sent out warnings and reminded Muslims to call for an attorney right away if an FBI agent shows up at their door step.
When the FBI announced the threat last week, they said it was vague and that they were still assessing its credibility.
Both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued statements saying they were ‘vigilant and well-postured’ to defend against a terror attack and that they were working with other agencies ‘to identify and disrupt any potential threat to public safety’.
Officials are monitoring incoming international flights and coming up with a list of possible suspects in the New York area.
Texas was allegedly on the list of targeted states because terrorists could use its southern border with Mexico to illegally cross into the country.
Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement on Friday, warning his citizens to be alert and vigilant and to report any suspicious activity.
The potential for clashes has already darkened a rancorous presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, on top of the threat of computer hacking and fears that Russia or other state actors could spread political misinformation online or tamper with voting.
And while federal and state authorities are beefing up cyber defenses against electronic threats to voting systems before Election Day, others are taking additional steps to guard against possible civil unrest or violence.