Why did the CIA pull ads from a Muslim paper in Detroit?
CIA ad on the web site of Arab American News
September 23rd, 2011
04:50 PM ET

Why did the CIA pull ads from a Muslim paper in Detroit?

By Sr. National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly

It's likely not the kind of public relations within the Muslim community that the CIA was aiming for, but when the Arab American News published a recent wire story that was critical of the agency and some of its believed operations in the community, something strange happened.

"We received an email from the advertising agency which handles the CIA's account," publisher Osama Siblani said.  "The agency sent an email saying that the CIA wanted to remove their ads immediately for undisclosed reasons.  I said 'OK, capture the front page in a picture and let's make the request to the webmaster to remove it.' They would not even wait. They want the ads to be removed immediately without a delay."

The ads seeking linguists interested in working for the agency were undoubtedly strategically placed in the Dearborn, Michigan, newspaper, which serves greater Detroit's Muslim community.

No official explanation was given, though the same article had been published by numerous other news agencies around the world. Siblani smelled a conspiracy and the following week, published his own blistering editorial expressing his discontent.

"If displeasure with one story the newspaper publishes causes a government agency to pull all its ads in retribution, then we assume everyone should be afraid of the CIA - and maybe the whole government - because it's obviously 'my way or the highway' with them. For us they can pull advertising and satisfy their thirst for revenge," Siblani wrote.

Without much explanation, the agency restored the advertising deal within days.

An agency spokesperson issued a statement saying: "The CIA has a long history of advertising with the Arab American News, and we regret any misunderstandings in this instance. We resubmitted our recruitment ads - for linguists - to the outlet. Freedom of the press is one of the many American values that CIA officers work to defend every day."

While the statement doesn't explain how or why the decision to pull the advertising package was made, Siblani says he's turning the other cheek in the name of national security.

"I have to give them the benefit of the doubt. It has to be an act of an individual. I don't want to pick a fight with the agency and I accept that it was a mistake and bad judgment," said Siblani, who says he still harbors frustration over the incident.

"They picked a fight with the wrong guy. I'm the one who brought them into this community."

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  9. Did they stop paying their bills?

    It's basic PR. Flaming car crash kills family of 8, pull the minivan ads. Plane runs off runway, pull the vacation charter to Las Vegas ads. Cantalopes kill seniors, pull the supermarket melon sale ad. Recall of pharmaceuticals, pull the Tylenol ad. Students die in drunken party, pull the Budweiser ad. Don't get your panties soiled. Try advertising 101.

    October 5, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Reply
  10. bob

    Excuse me please. Oollith not Anarath...

    September 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  11. j

    "They picked a fight with the wrong guy. I'm the one who brought them into this community."

    true muslim speach...

    September 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  12. Oolith

    Though I am not Arab American, I am an American Muslim. I had followed the news concerning this from another source. I have not followed the coverage closely. When I first read about the undercover operations, I thought it might be an over-reaction. As I read, red flags of corruption began to surface. I specialize in corruption and fraud examination. Moreover, the detail that leads me to state such is the fact that the NYPD has not taken the opportunity to brighten future forensic professionals in the school settings by fostering interests in the fields through field trips or community engagements.

    As I read such an odd account of panic (perhaps manufactured) by the individual from the CIA accounts holder, which was detailed by Osama Siblani in his article. Moreover, an article that was a follow up to an outside article, my interest is again peeked. Even though, it does seem to be some type of social engineering being engaged by persons in the CIA (and others) that cannot be conclusive. Nevertheless, the panic, real or manufactured is odd behavior.
    I admonished individuals CAIR not too long ago about not fostering people such as myself into leadership positions to assist the various agencies in having proper and credentialed educators and trainers, instead of condemning what is a vital need within judicial and law enforcement communities.

    September 27, 2011 at 3:56 am | Reply
    • bob

      Anarath; What the heck did you say?

      September 30, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Reply
  13. Anarath

    So this Siblani has some radical tendencies- "then we assume everyone should be afraid of the CIA – and maybe the whole government
    But as long as he gets his way, "It has to be an act of an individual. I don't want to pick a fight with the agency"
    Still, "They picked a fight with the wrong guy", this Siblani (It.?) ...A real roughneck. This kind of emotional schizo-drivel from a community leader is the Real enemy of Peace in the world. There's a medication for that, Jack%@#ss.

    September 25, 2011 at 3:44 am | Reply
    • David H.

      Who's the Jack%@#ss? You, Anarat. What Siblani said makes sense. It was probably an individual who pulled the ads without authorization and without thinking, not a company policy. His comment that, "They picked a fight with the wrong guy", just means that he's not intimidated by their action, idiot.

      September 26, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Reply
      • Anarath

        I really do appreciate the reply, and I can see you're intelligent enough to decipher my slant on this issue. Unfortunately you only are capable of the same simple knee-JERk emotional response which, if you read my post, I have condemned. It is you who are the #1 Jack%@#ss. Thanks for nothing!!

        October 2, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  14. andre

    who is a terrorist?

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  15. andre

    The CIA ! His like the KGB , the go around the world killing who tHe want ,where? Is the KGB ? Soon china we'll make history out of u'l

    September 24, 2011 at 3:03 am | Reply
    • Assassin Actual

      Wow, a very reactionary move by someone in the company’s PR department. The CIA needs to increase its cooperation with American Muslims, we need them if we are to be able to effective counter radial fundamentalist of an Islamic bent .
      And really Andre? At least make your inane rant readable.

      September 26, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Reply

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