Islamic leaders and local Muslim residents sued Tuesday to find out if federal investigators are monitoring them.
The lawsuit filed in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union accuses the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI of essentially ignoring public records requests for information about the surveillance of prominent Muslims.
A year after the request was filed, the government produced only four pages of documents, three of them concerning an interview the FBI had with a Corona official of an Inland Muslims group.
The Corona resident, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American- Islamic Relations, said the interview was about improving relations between the FBI and the Muslim community.
Ayloush is one of two Corona residents who are plaintiffs in the suit. The other is Rafe Husain, former president and board member of the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco.
Islamic leaders filed the request to quell fears that the government is conducting unwarranted surveillance on Muslim Americans, said Shakeel Syed, the executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.
The government's failure to respond is unsettling particularly in light of the fact that hundreds of people say they are being harassed by federal investigators in their homes, businesses and outside mosques, he said. . .
In June, the agencies released four pages of documents, three of them about Ayloush, of Corona.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Ayloush said he has reason to think the FBI is holding back.
"The report is based on a meeting I had with the FBI in my office where we discussed ways to improve relations with the Muslim Community and the FBI," he said.
"I hope there is not more, but there must be something more to explain why I always get stopped in airports," Ayloush said. "It has happened eight times now, and I am either being stopped for the fact that I am a Muslim which is morally and ethically reprehensible, or the other reason is that some government agency might have some erroneous information about me.
"The only way for me to clear it up is with this Freedom of Information Act request." (MORE)