High-ranking officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation have sought to address concerns from American Muslims over the agency’s secret monitoring program of Islamic groups.
In December, U.S. News & World Report disclosed the program, which entailed monitoring of radiation levels at Muslim sites without first obtaining a court warrant. The periodical reported that the spy program included air monitoring of more than 100 Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area. The program was launched after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
On Jan. 11, John Pistole, deputy director of the FBI met with a group of Muslim Americans in Washington to assuage their concerns, The New York Times reported.
“We explained how we work with intelligence and that we did what we did based on the patterns of Al Qaeda, not because of the patterns or activities of any mosque or Muslim neighborhood,” Pistole told The Times.
One of the meeting’s attendees, Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told the newspaper, “The current situation reinforces the notion that our community is viewed more as suspects rather than partners.”
Following the disclosure of the spying program, lawyers representing several Muslim-American organizations filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents relating to the FBI activities.
Kareem Shora, legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told the Religion News Service that if the information “demonstrates that Muslim sites were monitored just because they were Muslim sites, without law enforcement leads, it’s going to have a chilling effect on people’s free speech and hurt the war on terrorism.”