(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/1/2011) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today expressed concern about the “chilling effect” on constitutionally-protected activities that may result from the apparent use of FBI community outreach efforts to secretly gather intelligence on American Muslim communities, groups and individuals.
According to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “the FBI is using its extensive community outreach to Muslims and other groups to secretly gather intelligence in violation of federal law.”
SEE: FBI Illegally Using Outreach to Gather Intelligence (Wash. Post)
ACLU: FOIA Documents Show FBI Illegally Collecting Intelligence Under Guise of ‘Community Outreach’
Agents reportedly documented Social Security numbers, motor vehicle information and the political views and affiliations of individuals they met. FBI agents compiled the intelligence data while attending meetings at mosques and while taking part in community events. The information gathered at Muslim outreach events may have been used in follow-up investigations.
“FBI outreach initiatives will inevitably have a counterproductive chilling effect on constitutionally-protected activities if they are merely a cover for illegal intelligence gathering,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “American Muslims should feel free to focus on positive civic engagement without worrying that they will be viewed solely through the prism of national security.”
He said there must be a change in the FBI approach from that of an alienating suspicion of American Muslims to a culture of mutual trust and true cooperation.
Awad added that American Muslims have consistently supported law enforcement efforts to protect our nation’s security and he welcomed news that the White House has ordered a comprehensive review of government counterterrorism training materials to weed out Islamophobic content.
SEE: Obama Orders Clean Up of Islamophobic Terror Training
CAIR chapters nationwide recently filed 87 separate public records requests about possible Islamophobic training of local, state and national law enforcement personnel.
SEE: CAIR Files Multi-State Records Requests on Anti-Muslim Law Enforcement Trainings
The Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization is seeking information about state-level trainings that may have used federal taxpayer dollars to fund anti-Muslim trainers, a phenomenon highlighted in recent research and media reports.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org