Press Releases

CAIR: Members of Congress Send Letter of Inquiry to Department of State Over Dissemination of Watchlist to 60+ Foreign Countries

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/28/19) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today welcomed a letter of congressional inquiry led by Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing concern over the federal government’s dissemination of the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) to over 60 foreign countries and requesting more information about this practice and the guidelines that govern it.

The letter requests several pieces of information from the U.S. Department of State, including a list of countries that receive access to the TSDB. It also states the Representatives’ concern that countries with dubious human rights records like Saudi Arabia and China may be on that list, citing credible reports that Uyghur activists have been added to the watchlist at the behest of the Chinese government.

Congresswoman Omar was joined by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), James McGovern (D-MA), Al Green (D-TX), Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

SEE: Press Release by Rep. Omar Announcing the Letter

SEE: Letter from Rep. Omar to Secretary Pompeo

The letter also requests:

  • A list of countries that receive TSDB data, including any subset of data from the TSDB
  • A list of all countries that have successfully petitioned to add individuals to the TSDB
  • Copies of any agreements signed with foreign countries to grant access to the TSDB
  • The individuals or entities who have primary responsibility for ensuring that foreign partners abide by any agreement governing the sharing of information
  • Whether any standards exist for determining whether the United States should agree to share TSDB information to a foreign partner, and if so, what those standards are
  • To what extent, if any, the United States considers a country’s human rights record in determining whether to share TSDB information with that country
  • Whether any standards or procedures exist to remove TSDB access to a country that has been granted that access

“It is dangerous enough that the federal government keeps a secret watchlist of more than one million people, almost all of whom are Muslim, and treats these people like second class citizens,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “The danger increases exponentially when this watchlist is shared with tyrannical regimes all across the world. Congress and the public ought to know which foreign governments receive the watchlist and what has been done to people targeted by a watchlisting system that now spans the globe. CAIR applauds this oversight.”

Awad also called on Congress to investigate why more than 1,400 private companies, including animal shelters, private investigators, a megachurch and others, currently have access to the government’s watchlist.

SEE: CAIR Calls on Congress to Probe Why More than 1,400 Private Companies Have Access to Illegal Watchlist

For years, CAIR has represented innocent Muslims — people who have not been charged, arrested, or convicted of a violent offense — who have been targeted by the watchlisting system. Some have lost jobs, been separated from their families, and all have been stigmatized by being treated as “terrorists” by their own government.

SEE: Detroit Mother Calls Out Feds for Breaking Up Family, Files Lawsuit

In March, CAIR exposed a previously undisclosed TSA program called “Silent Partner” that appears to be an invasive traveler-surveillance program and a supra-agency body that oversees the watchlist called the Watchlisting Advisory Council.

SEE: CAIR Depositions of FBI, DHS, CBP, TSA Officials Reveal Previously-Undisclosed Traveler Surveillance Program, Watchlisting Advisory Council

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims. 

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos. 


CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper,, 202-744-7726


Share on facebook
Share on twitter