DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The FBI says its most important mission is to prevent another terrorist attack in the U.S. Aside from agents, the agency says linguists are playing a critical role in keeping you safe.
They translate agency wiretaps, interviews, and documents.
Now, the Dallas FBI is recruiting linguists because the agency needs more of them.
Moazzam Shah is one. He had just moved to the U.S. when terrorists struck on September 11th.
“I was upset, I was angry. Here were some people who professed to be Muslims, same as me, and yet they did things totally against what’s in Islam,” Shah says.
At the time, Shah was working in sales and marketing.
But he felt compelled to join the FBI and help them fight against terrorists.
Shah says, “I wanted to give back to the country that had given me so much. This story is only possible in the U.S., nowhere else.”
But as is required, Shah had to become a U.S. citizen first.
After waiting eight years, he started working part-time as a linguist for the FBI providing translations in Urdu, Pashto and Punjabi, three languages spoken in his native Pakistan.
He went full-time last year.
The Dallas FBI is looking for many other linguists like Shah — who not only specialize in Urdu, but Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, and Spanish, among other languages.
Kevin Kolbye is the assistant special agent in charge of the Dallas FBI.
He says the linguists are crucial, especially in terrorism investigations, such as the case of 19-year-old Hosam Smadi who is in prison for plotting to blow up a downtown Dallas office tower.
Kolbye says, “He made a martyr video that was in Arabic so our linguists were very crucial and critical in determining the accuracy of his meaning as well as his intent.”
He says the agency is recruiting other linguists like Shah.
Kolbye says, “I think he is a true patriot.”
Shah says, “It’s a very good feeling. It’s job satisfaction – it’s knowing you’re making a difference.”
The FBI will be holding its first-ever foreign language job fair in North Texas this Saturday.
It’s at the Grapevine Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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