Nearly a year after a top FBI official said the agency does not monitor students at UCI, police are investigating an incident in which a Muslim student says he was threatened by a federal agent.

The incident occurred Monday night in view of campus police and dozens of Muslim student spectators, who were helping to disassemble a large wooden representation of the wall that Israelis have built in occupied Palestine.

“There was a confrontation, if you will,” said UCI Police Chief Paul Henisey, who is investigating the incident to determine if any crime was committed. The students “demanded to know why this person was following them, then the person left,” he said.

In 2006, an FBI agent created an uproar in the Southern California Islamic community, when she told a group of influential businessmen and women at the Pacific Club that the FBI was fully aware of the high level of activism among Muslim students at USC and UCI.

Later, a spokeswoman for FBI Assistant Director J. Stephen Tidwell e-mailed the Register, saying, “The FBI does not monitor Muslim student groups at UC Irvine, USC or other educational institutions.”

On Thursday, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller reiterated that position, saying that the agent came onto campus Monday “in the course of an investigation.” She declined to elaborate.

“Agents can be led anywhere during the course of an investigation,” Eimiller said. “There is no surveillance being conducted at educational institutions.”

This week, UCI’s Muslim Student Union has been holding twice-daily speeches and rallies called “Israel: Apartheid Resurrected” to protest Israeli policies toward Palestinians. As part of the protests, students erected a mock wall near the student center.

UCI officials, citing university policy about large displays, have required them to take down the wall every night, requiring the help of many students due to its size and weight. . .

On Thursday, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Anaheim, said his office “has received many calls from students and parents at UCI expressing extreme concern about the safety and privacy of their students on campus” since Monday.

“The calls came all day yesterday and today,” Ayloush said Thursday. “It’s understandable that law enforcement might sometimes need to verify certain tips, but the problem in this situation was the manner in which it was conducted.”


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