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Chicago Tribune: Threatening Calls to Muslim Couple Spark FBI Probe

By Jennifer Skalka

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/nearnorthwest /chi-0504090167apr09,1,3150349.story

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The FBI is investigating racist and threatening phone calls to a Muslim couple in Chicago Ridge, a national advocacy group official said Friday.

“About three weeks ago, this unidentified man started calling the family and basically making threats, saying that if you don’t move from my neighborhood, I will kill you, I will shoot you and your son,” said Yaser Tabbara, executive director of the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The couple, who live in an apartment building in the 7000 block of West 99th Street, received four calls. According to a police report, the wife was told in the final call: “If you move, I have a knife, and I’m going to kill you, you [expletive] Arab.”

Ross Rice, a spokesman for the Chicago FBI, said his office received a complaint and is investigating. The caller, if found, could face felony charges.

Rice said the FBI had asked the organization not to publicize the case. “It has compromised or impeded our investigation,” Rice said.

Tabbara said his organization issued a statement to make the FBI and other agencies “more responsive” and to put the matter “under spotlight.”

“That makes them take this as seriously as we would want them to take it,” he said. “We believe we did this in the best interest of the victim.”

The family was not available for comment.

Tabbara said the wife is a Latina and Muslim who has lived in the United States for at least 12 years. The husband is a Muslim from the Middle East who drives a cab and has lived here for about 20 years. Both are U.S. citizens, he said, adding that they have a young son and have lived in Chicago Ridge for four years.

Police reports indicate the family received the first call at home March 15. The caller told the wife to “get out of town, and watch your back.”

The wife reported a hang-up on March 16 and a March 17 call during which the caller said that she and her husband “have one month to vacate their apartment.” If they didn’t, the caller said he would kill her. He said he had followed the woman to Wal-Mart and to the Chicago Ridge Police Department.

The fourth call, the only one in which the word “Arab” was mentioned, was made to the wife’s cell phone.

Police Chief Tim Baldermann said the phone company traced the last three calls.

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