The controversy over reports of an FBI informant infiltrating southern California mosques and the FBI’s overall conduct toward American Muslims were subjects of a Senate hearing last month, generating vague answers from FBI Director Robert Mueller and generating even more concern in a community already feeling fearful and unfairly targeted in a post-9/11 era. In the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing held on Capitol Hill, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) was tough on Mueller.
“Can you determine and report to this committee whether mosques have been entered by FBI agents or informants without disclosing their identities under the authority of the attorney general guidelines and, if so, how many?” Feingold asked.
“I will say that we do not focus on institutions, we focus on individuals. And I will say generally if there is evidence or information as to individual or individuals undertaking illegal activities in religious institutions, with appropriate high-level approval, we would undertake investigative activities, regardless of the religion,” Mueller responded in part.
Mueller, in regurgitating the domestic intelligence and investigative agency’s standard line, in fact contradicted claims of Craig Monteilh, an Orange County man who has publicly revealed how he was trained to “infiltrate” area mosques – from West Covina to Mission Viejo – to spy on unsuspecting worshippers, for almost a year.
Monteilh’s accounts prompted Muslim community leaders and groups to question the true intention behind the FBI’s partnership with U.S. Muslims.
A highlight of the Senate testimony was a reference to the American Muslim Taskforce statement, released March 17. That statement was part of a nationally-coordinated campaign by Muslims to decisively respond to the FBI’s aggressive tactics.
[ … ]
AMT Chairman Agha Saeed, however, said the AMT’s effort is not a campaign of disengagement.
“It is instead designed to truly engage top Justice Department officials on these critical issues,” Saeed said. “It is also designed to help restore respect and equal rights for American Muslims after eight years of being treated as suspects rather than partners.” (More)