The widening rift between the FBI and the Islamic community has drawn the American Civil Liberties Union into the fray, with the organization's lawyers declaring victory in their efforts to force the release of government surveillance records on Southern California Muslims.
A federal district court judge Monday gave the FBI 30 days to make available for review 48 pages of surveillance memos pertaining to Southern California Muslim organizations that had previously been released only in heavily redacted form, 47 pages of previously withheld memos, and FBI files on the Council of American Islamic Relations and Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the group's Southern Californian Chapter, ACLU staff attorney Jennie Pasquarella said.
Ayloush and Shakeel Syed, the executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, joined Pasquarella in the courtyard of the federal courthouse in Santa Ana minutes after the judge's ruling, declaring the decision a victory for Muslim organizations.
"We are exercising our first amendment rights, and we are running out of patience," Syed said.
FBI representatives forwarded requests for comment to Department of Justice officials, who could not be immediately reached for comment. Federal officials have previously denied charges by several national Islamic organizations that the government has taken part in "fishing expeditions" by sending informants to ensnare Muslims at area Mosques.
A coalition of Islamic organizations known as the American Muslim Taskforce last month threatened to cut ties with the FBI, accusing the agency of using "McCarthy-era tactics." …
Ayloush said he hoped this week's court ruling could spark a "healing phase" between the Muslim community and the FBI.
"We're hoping this will begin the process of undoing this climate of fear," Ayloush said. (More)