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It’s official: CIA wants Arab Americans

Washington, Jan. 23 (Reuters): The CIA has rolled out a new recruiting ad that for the first time specifically targets Arab Americans to meet growing demand for their cultural and language expertise in fighting terrorism.

“For over 100 years Arab-Americans have served the nation. Today we need you more than ever,” says the ad which appeared on Sunday in major US newspapers in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Detroit and Tampa, Florida.

The ad has a picture of the Statue of Liberty dated 1901 to symbolise the large wave of immigration at the turn of the century and says the spy agency is seeking people who believe in “Patriotism. Freedom. Love of nation.” And it goes on to ask: “Why work for a company when you can serve the nation'”

Past CIA recruiting ad campaigns have targeted Americans of African, Hispanic and Asian ethnicity. “This is the first time we ran an ad primarily aimed at Arab Americans,” CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said yesterday.

“The CIA has long focused attention and resources on West Asia, but the events of 9/11 and significantly increased demands to support the war on terrorism, increased our need for expertise on this region for obvious reasons,” he said.

After the September 11, 2001, attacks, critics said the CIA did not have enough spies, analysts and linguists of West Asian heritage to collect, analyse and interpret intelligence necessary for fighting terrorism.

The US has blamed Saudi-born Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida network for the September 11 attacks in which four hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon outside Washington and a Pennsylvania field, killing about 3,000 people.

While the ad was put out at a time when the US government is contemplating war with Iraq, Mansfield said that was not the impetus and the ad campaign had been in development for some time pegged to the war on terrorism.

“We’re looking for second and third generation Arab Americans with area and cultural expertise as well as foreign language skills,” he said.

The new ad is part of a wider campaign to increase West Asian expertise at the spy agency, with recruiting efforts also taking place in the academic arena. All applicants for a job at the CIA must be US citizens and pass a polygraph test among other security procedures.

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