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FBI interviews about 5,000 Iraqi nationals

At least 30 detained on immigration violations

From Terry Frieden
CNN Washington Bureau


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- FBI agents have interviewed about 5,000 of the 11,000 Iraqi nationals in the United States identified for questioning after the outbreak of combat in Iraq.

At least 30 have been detained on immigration violations, and were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

FBI officials said agents have talked to nearly half the Iraqis on their list in a little over one week and hope to finish the interview program in another week or so. About 500 of those targeted for questioning were in the immediate Washington area, Justice Department officials said.

The FBI has emphasized the sweep of Iraqis is an effort to obtain current information on the individuals, and to seek information on contacts in Iraq that could prove useful to the government.

Prior to the war, the FBI had identified a small number of Iraqis who had raised particular security concerns or prompted surveillance. Officials say fewer than a dozen individuals were taken into custody, but no immediate information was available on charges filed.

Meanwhile, immigration authorities are continuing to search for an undetermined number of Iraqis believed to be "out of status" for failing to leave the United States as required by their visas. Officials said they could provide no numbers.

If the people are found they will be placed in deportation proceedings, officials said.


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