WASHINGTON -- A month ago, officials at the FBI announced that they
would be awarding the bureau's prestigious exceptional service award
to a prominent Detroit man who helped forge a relationship between the
bureau and Michigan's numerous Arab communities.
But two days before Imad Hamad, director of the state's American-Arab
Anti-Discrimination Committee, was to be flown to Washington to accept
a plaque, bureau officials yanked the award without explanation and
said Hamad would no longer be receiving it.
Michigan's Arab and Muslim communities were incensed.
"Yeah," one FBI official said, "we probably could have handled that
Hamad is not suspected of any wrongdoing, said FBI spokesman Ed
Cogswell, and he is not under investigation. But sources in the bureau
said agents became concerned with what they believed were "problematic" associates of Hamad who support terrorism.
The incident with Hamad and the award highlights the FBI's
sometimes-stumbling efforts to reach out to Arab and Muslim
communities throughout the country. Relations, by most accounts, are
improving, but Muslim leaders and bureau officials agree that tension