Visit By The FBI
From The Arab Voice
The following is an account of my encounter
with the FBI years ago, after the issuing of the Arab Voice. The
newspaper came out around the same time of the Persian Gulf War,
when the FBI had problems attracting Arabs to its side, so it tried
to recruit people from the Arab community to try and collect more
information. One of the people was the editor of the Arab Voice.
He came to me carrying a finely crafted suitcase.
He knocked on my door, entered my office, and when he sat down,
he took a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, and proceeded to ask
me: "Do you allow smoking in your office?"
"Yes," I said, "I am a long-time
After noticing the surprise on my face, he said:
"You probably know what I am doing here."
" I told him that he may want to introduce
himself first. Then, he took his badge out of his pocket to show
me that he was an FBI agent.
"The reason why I am here is to find some
answers," he continued. "Why do you support Iraq in your
articles and newspaper even though there are other Arabic newspapers
in the region that speak the truth about Iraq, and the fact that
it conquered and destroyed another country. Why do you support evil,
and dont stand with the truth?"
"Is this a question or an investigation?"
"A question that I dont have an answer
to," he replied.
I said: "We stand with Iraq because standing
against it is wrong. Iraq is an Arabic country that build itself,
and tried in few years to build a new humanity and a new technology."
"Do you mean the weapons technology?"
"You only think in terms of what you want
to think of," I said. "Is technology only building weapons?
Cant you see that improving science in different areas cant
be accomplished without an improvement in military technology?"
"Yes", he said, "there is an
improvement, but the Iraqi president is using everything civil to
help the military."
"Oh, so helping the military is a reason
to punish 16 million people so they cant find medicine, shelters,
or food. If you do that, do you think that youre going to
win these people over to your side? And do you think that by fighting
the president you can win his people? Remember that the Eastern
world, not only Arabs, see the U.S. services as a colonial power?
We got rid of the colonial powers and here you are again repeating
it through other techniques, only this time you are using this friendly,
"I dont want to continue this conversation
further," he said. "You say yes, and I say no, I say yes,
and you say no."
Then I said: "Why dont you tell me
what exactly you came here for?"
He laughed and said: "I want us to collaborate
to help our country."
"And who told you that I dont help
this country?" I asked. Serving it for me means to tell the
truth even if it hurts sometimes. But at least its fair, and
maybe you have a different point of view. Serving the country from
your perspective means spying on others or hurting one another.
Its helping all right, but the concept is defined differently.
"Your language is clear, where did you
learn to speak English?"
I told him: "Do you think that in Arab
countries we still live in tents, and ride camels for long distances
to find some bread and water for our children?" The Arab countries
have news cars that you cant even find in America, tall buildings,
and minds that can build countries, and kingdoms. Why do you consider
us as a part of ancient history? Its true that French and
English languages are second languages in our countries, but at
least we speak clearly,
He laughed and said: "Like in London, for
example, where they pronounce the words correctly."
"Yes," I said, they are a little better
than you are. Just in pronunciation and nothing else. English people
have walked all over us since the beginning of the century until
they left our soil.
He asked me about my salary. I told him that
I own the newspaper and no one shares its profit with me except
"What if we double your revenues?"
he asked. I told him that I would like that but that I am satisfied
with my living, and I dont want to be rich. All I want is
enough money to survive without borrowing from anybody. A person
who will sell his writing, will sell his wife, sister, or daughter.
Working hard for our food is better than sending someone to prison
just because I am writing for you.
"You understood me very quickly",
"Others were sharper than you", I
said. "Many people have come here before you with bigger offers.
Didnt anyone tell you not to mess with me?
"Yes," he replied, but minds can be
very different, as are the offers.
"I dont want your offer."
He gave me an angry look, smiled, and then said:
"You dont love America."
I told him that I took the citizenship test
a long time ago, and I swore to serve this country, and I have kept
this promise, but my way of serving this country differs from his
way. I believe in my country, and I believe that spying on people
is not a way to serve it. I have nothing to hide, and saying the
truth is the best service I can provide.
He rose from his seat and said in a bad Arabic
accent: "Assalamoo Alaikom", and left.
Since then, I never saw his face again.
Translated From Arabic By Elias Saber
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