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FBI Launches Hate Crime Investigation Into Vandalism That Targeted Eastside Muslims

Agents are assisting the Chelan County Sheriff's Office in its search for the vandal or vandals who targeted a car driven by a group of local Muslim men earlier this month.

The FBI has joined the Chelan County Sheriff's Office in the investigation of a

Earlier this month, vandals targeted the BMW while the group of friends rode rented jet skis on Lake Chelan. Racist phrases, including "Sand N**gers" and "Doon Goons" (sic), were written in permanent marker on the car, and the vehicle was also extensively scratched with a key.

One of the men, Ahmed Brown of Bellevue, spoke out about the incident during a news conference at the Seattle offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil liberties organization earlier this month.

Ayn Dietrich, a Seattle-based spokesperson for the FBI, confirmed the federal agency is investigating the incident but said she could not offer any details on the nature of the investigation. Dietrich said the FBI became involved upon the request of local authorities in Chelan County.

The FBI defines a hate crime as "a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil liberties organization, called on the FBI to get involved in the case at a news conference a few days after the incident. CAIR issued a news release Thursday announcing the FBI's involvement.

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"We welcome the FBI's intervention in this case and hope that the investigation can be completed quickly," CAIR-WA Civil Rights Coordinator Jennifer Gist said in the release. "The community needs to know that these offenses will be taken seriously and the perpetrator will be brought to justice."

Dietrich said she could not estimate how long it would take for the investigation to conclude. No suspects have been identified in the case.

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