ACLU Seeks FBI Surveillance Data on Behalf of Muslims

May 16, 2006

Source: Los Angeles Times,1,4800547.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

On May 16, 2006 the Los Angeles Times reported, "Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union asked the FBI on Monday to release documents detailing any post-Sept. 11 surveillance of Southern California mosques and Muslims.

Local Islamic leaders said they enlisted the ACLU's help after the FBI provided little information in response to their allegations that the agency was monitoring them and their places of worship. They say some Muslims are afraid to go to mosques because they fear government monitoring.

Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, said numerous Muslims reported being questioned by the FBI about their religious practices and sermons given during prayer services.

The ACLU filed the request under the federal Freedom of Information Act on behalf of individual Muslims and six Islamic groups, including the Shura Council, an Anaheim-based federation of more than 60 mosques, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group whose Southern California chapter is also in Anaheim.

The ACLU has used similar strategies to get government documents on other groups monitored by the FBI.

Records obtained last year on behalf of 150 organizations showed that FBI counterterrorism agents had been covertly watching several activist groups, including the Catholic Worker and Greenpeace, since the Sept. 11 attacks for links to violent or disruptive activities.

In January, the FBI acknowledged that agents monitored mosques, Muslim-owned businesses and homes throughout the country for radiation levels.

Government officials said they were acting on intelligence that Al Qaeda planned to use a radioactive 'dirty bomb' in the U.S. The surveillance program, which consisted of checking for radioactivity in the air, began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and continued through 2003."