McDermott objects to local ad campaign, claims racial profiling

SEATTLE -- What are the "faces of global terrorism?"

It depends.

An ad campaign running in the Seattle area on Metro busses, Link light rail trains, billboards and the international terminal at Sea-Tac encourages people to offer up information they might have about suspected terrorists.

Photos and names of 46 individuals wanted by the U.S. government are displayed on some of the bus ads.

They were placed by the Puget Sound Joint Terrorism Task Force on behalf of the U.S. State Department to promote the Rewards for Justice program that has shelled out millions of dollars in reward money and led to the successful capture of well-known terrorists.

Congressman Jim McDermott of Seattle supports the program that finances finding the terrorists. In fact, he co-sponsored the bill to expand the Rewards for Justice program.

But when he saw the local ads, he decided he didn't like some of them.

McDermott sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller, expressing concern over the U.S. Department of State's Rewards for Justice ad campaign, seen on buses in Seattle.

"This is the face of terrorism?" he said. "It's not the face of terrorism and it's unfair to paint them with that brush."

That's because the ads feature mostly men of Middle Eastern background, and only one American. The letter said the "bus ad will likely only serve to exacerbate the disturbing trend of hate crimes against Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Muslim-Americans."

"You're pointing a finger at a group of people, profiling them," McDermott said. "I don't think that's fair and I don't think its good for our society. It doesn't make us safer."

Seattle residents seem to have mixed feelings about the ads.

"I do see that ad, there it is right on the bus," Dennis Waymouth said. "You can place an ad like that without putting pictures with it."

Todd Helmarson had similar objections.

"It's a good concept, but the way they have it displayed, or to display that concept--(that's) not a good way to do it," he said.

Romulo Frias said he's a Filipino-American ex-Marine.

"I get that all the time, I wear this (a backward cap and blue-checkered scarf) and I got my backpack and they think I'm a terrorist so I just do it anyway to piss people off, (it's) like go ahead and judge me," Frias said.

The ads are part of a pilot program of ads that were very successful at capturing terrorist overseas, and this group of them will only be seen in Seattle.

They were placed by the group of law enforcement agencies known as the Puget Sound Joint Terrorism Task Force on behalf of the U.S. State Department.

That expansion's first U.S. test city is Seattle, McDermott's turf.

"I don't think it was very well thought out though," McDermott said.

He's asking that this ad be pulled.

For more complete list of those wanted by the government go to the Rewards for Justice web site.