MPAC Strongly Condemns NSA, FBI Spying on American Muslim Leaders

Calls on Obama Administration for Immediate Reforms

July 9, 2014

This morning, The Intercept revealed that five high-profile American Muslims were subject to years-long secret surveillance by the FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) from 2002 to 2008. Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed that those targeted include:

  • Faisal Gill, former Department of Homeland Security top advisor in the Bush Administration
  • Asim Ghafoor, well known defense attorney
  • Hooshang Amirahmadi, Iranian-American professor at Rutgers University
  • Agha Saeed, former political science professor at California State University
  • Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

“We stand with the five American Muslims targeted by the NSA and FBI, and the thousands of others who have been impacted by mass surveillance of our communities,” said MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati. “These revelations are a betrayal of public trust by the NSA and FBI. The treatment of the American Muslim community as suspects will only further increase the distrust our community has toward the government and create more isolation.”

MPAC signed onto a coalition letter addressed to President Obama asking the administration to investigate the matter and ensure that these abuses no longer continue. The letter states in part:

“We call on your Administration to provide a full public accounting of these practices and to strengthen protections against the infringement of civil liberties and human rights. We also request a meeting with you, Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey to discuss these matters.”

The five American Muslims placed under surveillance appeared on a spreadsheet titled “FISA recap” leaked to Glen Greenwald last year by Edward Snowden, which is a reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and identifies 7,485 email addresses that were monitored for surveillance.  All of the surveillance victims appear to have been targeted because of their Muslim backgrounds and their activities defending Muslims. All five of the prominent American Muslims whose names were released today strongly deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none have been associated with or charged with any crime.

MPAC calls on the Obama administration to take immediate concrete steps to rebuild the trust that government has lost by:

  1. Publicly stating that these abuses were a breach of public trust and that FBI and NSA no longer are engaged in this type of politically motivated surveillance
  2. Meet with American-Muslim and Civil Rights institutions to hear the full extent of abuses that have taken place at different levels of law enforcement including the NYPD and FBI
  3. Provide more transparency on the changes which took place with problematic training programs which took place across agencies including the DHS, DOJ, DOD and FBI

The sad reality exists that these abuses have not taken place in a vacuum. For too long, government agencies, especially the law enforcement and intelligence communities, have received biased and politically motivated training and information on the American Muslim community. There are a countless number of cases where the government has engaged in discriminatory surveillance against the American Muslim community. These practices hurt American Muslims, as well as all communities that expect law enforcement to equally serve and protect them as American citizens.

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