CHEYENNE – Laramie County Sheriff Danny Glick said Wyomingites should be vigilant in light of recent world events like this week’s attack in Belgium because the FBI is investigating potential terrorists in the Cowboy State.
“You just don’t know where they’re going to strike,” he said Wednesday.
Glick said he has no specific knowledge of any credible threat or individual investigation here.
Instead, he said he was affirming FBI Director James Comey’s recent announcement that the bureau currently has homegrown violent extremist investigations open in all 50 states.
“This isn’t a New York phenomenon or a Washington phenomenon,” Comey said last month at the National Association of Attorneys General winter meeting. “This (involves) all 50 states, and in ways that are very hard to see.”
Comey said “it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to be a federal agent who will first see or hear about someone acting in strange ways on social media or acting in a strange way at a religious institution or an educational institution or in the community.”
Instead, “it’s going to be a deputy sheriff, it’s going to be a police officer, who knows that neighborhood.”
The Laramie County Sheriff’s Department is not acting outside of its normal vigilance and duties in light of Comey’s announcement.
“We’re aware the potential is there and aware of our surroundings,” Glick said, “and ask our local folks, if they see something out of place, to call us so we can investigate.”
The sheriff also said he wanted to bring attention to the fact that immigrants other than Mexicans – “OTMs,” as he called them – are entering the U.S. illegally through its borders.
Sheriff Glick said he knows law enforcement in the southwest border states have found evidence of OTMs, such as Islamic prayer rugs and Korans, while investigating immigrant camps.
Mohamed Salih, a Cheyenne resident and co-founder of the Southeast Wyoming Islamic Center, said Glick’s comments about Muslim immigrants are troubling.
“I’m very disappointed,” Salih said. “I don’t think there is any problem – these are very good families: highly professional, physicians, educators, government employees.
“What I don’t like is a brush that you paint the whole Muslim community with.”
Salih, who has lived here for 29 years, said he condemns the terrorists’ actions, and “we can’t blame a whole community for some criminal actions by a few.”
“Muslims abhor this kind of stuff, and they worry about it,” he said. “Every time an action happens, they pray that it is not a Muslim. Why? Because they are afraid of that big brush painting everybody – condemning them the same way.”
Salih said it’s also important to mention that many Muslim residents of Cheyenne have been here for 20, 30 or 40 years and are involved and integrated with the community through education and charity work.
He encouraged people to “try to know a Muslim yourself” and said he is always open to speaking with anyone in the community about Islam.