(CNN) — Ten U.S. Muslim organizations threatened this week to cease working with the FBI, citing “McCarthy-era tactics” by the agency, including efforts to covertly infiltrate California mosques.
The groups claim the FBI has sent undercover agents posing as worshippers into mosques, pressured Muslims to become informants, labeled civil rights advocates as criminals and spread misinformation.
The FBI declined to comment on specific allegations but called the proposed move unproductive.
“Limiting honest dialogue, especially when complex issues are on the table, is generally not an effective advocacy strategy,” spokesman John Miller said in a statement. “The FBI has continued our outreach efforts, across the board, with a number of concerned groups and where we agree — or disagree — most have concluded the best results are achieved through continued conversation. We believe that, too.”
The group’s statement, dated Tuesday, said several incidents of the FBI “targeting Muslim Americans lead us to consider suspending ongoing outreach efforts.”
The statement was issued by the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, whose director, Agha Saeed, couldn’t immediately comment because of a family emergency.
The FBI has sent “agents provocateur” into California mosques, according to the statement, which says an FBI agent threatened to make one mosque member’s life a “living hell” if he did not become an informant.
Though the statement does not name the mosque member, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said last month it would seek an investigation into the February 21 arrest of Ahmadullah Niazi, an Afghanistan native.
“Mr. Niazi previously reported to [CAIR’s Los Angeles office] and other community members that, during a raid of a friend’s house, an FBI agent urged Mr. Niazi to work with the agency, saying that if he refused to cooperate his life would be made a ‘living hell,’ ” a news release said.
Niazi, a member of the Islamic Center of Irvine, told CAIR his arrest was retaliation for his refusal, the release said. (More)