Washington: The office of the largest U.S. Muslim civil liberties group in Washington was evacuated on Thursday afternoon after it received mail containing a suspicious substance.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said police evacuated its Capitol Hill office after a “foreign substance” was received in the mail.
The substance was a white powder that spilled out of a letter when opened by an employee, and several people inside and outside the office was being quarantined, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.
Firefighters set up a decontamination area in front of one of their trucks, complete with bleach and dish soap on the ground nearby. Firemen in full bunker gear and gas masks entered the building, and crews could be observed hosing off workers in hazmat suits.
Washington police was on the scene, and traffic was blocked off as officials investigated.
Communications coordinator Nabeelah Naeem told that police were called after employees opened the mail and saw the substance inside. She said such suspicious items are sent to their offices “periodically” while hate mail is received “daily.”
The evacuation comes amid rising tension in the U.S. over terror threats. Since the Paris terrorist attacks, there has been a renewed focus on fighting terrorism and a political debate over Islamic ideology.
GOP front-runner Donald Trump this week called for a ban on all foreign Muslims entering the U.S., which was widely repudiated by both Democrats and Republicans.