(LOS ANGELES, CA, 2/24/09) – At a news conference on Tuesday, February 24, the Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) called on the U.S. Attorney General to investigate FBI’s reportedly coercive and questionable tactics in the arrest of Tustin resident, Ahmad Niazi. CAIR-Los Angeles representatives were joined by an Islamic Shura Council of Southern California official and the wife of Mr. Niazi.
At a hearing Tuesday, Mr. Niazi’s bail was set at $500,000. He faces charges of perjury, naturalization fraud, misuse of a passport obtained by fraud, and making a false statement to a federal agency. He maintains the charges are in retaliation for his refusal to become an FBI informant.
Mr. Niazi previously reported to CAIR-LA 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.”
The letter, sent to Attorney General Eric Holder today, stated in part:
“In April 2008 Mr. Niazi reported to our office that he had been at the home of a potential business partner when it was raided by the FBI. He told us that, during the raid, Special Agent Thomas J. Ropel III urged Mr. Niazi to “work” with the agency, saying that if Mr. Niazi refused to cooperate his life would be made a “living hell.”
“Many similar incidents have been reported to our office. This apparently retaliatory persecution is a reality that many American Muslims, unfortunately, are forced to face.
“We therefore urgently request a formal investigation into the FBI and Joint Counter-Terrorism Task Force’s arrest of Mr. Niazi, and their investigative, surveillance, and intelligence gathering strategies in connection with the American Muslim community. This investigation should examine when and how agents and officers seek to recruit American Muslims as informants and how these individuals are treated if they refuse recruitment.”
“What we suspected all along is confirmed in a court of law, today,” said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Shura Council, at the news conference. “FBI’s use of provocateurs and informants in mosques is unacceptable. While we recognize FBI’s outreach efforts, we wish they stop playing the dual role of a buddy and a bully toward law-abiding Muslim Americans.”
Jamilah Amin, wife of Mr. Niazi, also addressed reporters at the news conference.
“He is a wonderful husband and a daddy to my kids. He could not be any harm to anybody, to any human being on this earth,” she said.