*US wars increase CIA need for Arabic speakers
*Mistrust as Arab-Americans perceive discrimination
*Spy agency launches ad campaign
By Soyoung Kim
DEARBORN, Mich., Nov 27 At Tuhama's Lebanese
deli in Dearborn, and at bakeries and barbershops throughout
town, it's no secret the CIA is looking for a few good spies.
"There is a lot of talk, and nobody likes it," said Hamze
Chehade, a 48-year-old Lebanese-American, taking a bite of his
In dire need of agents fluent in Arabic, the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency has made an unusual public show of its
recruiting effort in Dearborn -- a city of 100,000 with the
densest Arab population in the United States.
The agency has bought full-page ads in Arabic-language
newspapers and it is rolling out TV ads aimed at luring
Arab-Americans and Iranian-Americans to spycraft.
But despite a weak economy and high unemployment, the CIA
will find it hard to hire here, residents say. Many see U.S.
foreign policy in the Middle East as misguided and anger over
the perceived mistreatment of Arab-Americans runs deep.
It won't be easy to win hearts and minds here, they say.
"If anyone goes, they would be just going for the money,
not following the heart," said Chehade, a cabinet-maker who
immigrated from Lebanon 21 years ago.
CIA recruiters said the agency sorely needs speakers of
Arabic and other languages due to the intensifying insurgency
in Afghanistan and the continuing U.S. occupation of Iraq.
"Obviously, with the wars going on in the Middle East,
that's really on America's radar," said Henry Medina, who is in
charge of CIA recruiting in the Midwest.
"We're going to recruit that knowledge, that language, the
linguistics, the cultural nuances that are critical to fully
understand the foes and enemies," said Medina during a briefing
for reporters who were shown the agency's new ads.
One TV spot showed a dinner party at an Arab-American home,
with a narrator intoning, "Your nation, your world. They're
worth protecting. Careers in the CIA." The camera zooms out to
show the party taking place in a modern high-rise building,
then a view of the United States from outer space.
A second spot introduces five Arab-American professionals
in turn -- an engineer, a scientist, an economist, a lawyer,
and an academic -- then shows them together announcing, "We
work for the CIA."
"We're trying to de-mystify the agency. We don't want
people to only see us as being something like what you see in
the movies or spy novels," said CIA recruiter Zahra Roberts.
'DOES AMERICA LOVE US?'
The CIA declined to disclose the cost of the ad campaign or
detail the number of Arab-American recruits it wants to hire.
Leaders in Dearborn's Arab community said they welcomed
efforts to make U.S. intelligence agencies more inclusive.
But they said people have grown wary of the government's
use of wiretaps and informants in the Arab-American community.
Strict enforcement of immigration laws and delays at
airports and border crossings for Arab-Americans have also
created a backlash, they said.
"People have been told, 'Your name is Mohammed; your name
is Ahmed; you must be a terrorist," said Osama Siblani,
Lebanese-born publisher of the Dearborn-based Arab American
News. "How do you bring people into the government when they
have been subjected to a great deal of discrimination?"
He added: "You have to believe that what you are doing is
the right thing, otherwise you are just a gun for hire."
Siblani, whose newspaper runs CIA recruiting ads, met CIA
Director Leon Panetta during a September visit to Dearborn. "I
said, treat us like Americans," he said. "We love America but
does America love us?"
Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, agreed that many Arab-Americans
were torn between feelings of patriotism and resentment of U.S.
government policy at home and abroad.
"I think transparency will do a lot more than airing TV
commercials. There's a large amount of fear and mistrust with
the government," Walid said.
People of Middle Eastern origin make up more than one-third
of Dearborn's 100,000 residents, an influx that began a hundred
years ago when Henry Ford hired Lebanese immigrants to work in
the nearby River Rouge plant. More recently, many Iraqi
refugees have also settled in Dearborn.
On Warren Avenue, where signs in Arabic outnumber those in
English, other residents said they doubted the CIA would find
many willing recruits in Dearborn.
"It's not lack of patriotism. It's questioning of wrong
policy," said Mohammed, a 24-year-old graduate student of
Libyan descent who asked not to use his last name.
Inside Tuhama's, Chehade said he would warn his adult sons
to consider the consequences of signing on with the CIA.
"People are going to hate you," he said.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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