Muslim-American Organizations Debate Maintaining Ties to FBI

By Matthew Harwood

Charges that the FBI has infiltrated mosques and mistreated a popular Muslim civil rights organization are jeopardizing the cooperation established between the Muslim-American community and the FBI after the events of 9-11, The Washington Post reports

The coalition of two dozen Muslim American groups said last week that the FBI's treatment of one of its member organizations and what it regards as inappropriate FBI infiltration of mosques have disrupted the growing trust between the agency and the Muslim community. The coalition blasted the FBI, saying in a statement that "these McCarthy-era tactics are detrimental to a free society."

"We are not being treated equally and fairly as citizens of this country," said Agha Saeed, chairman of American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, an umbrella group leading the protest.

Part of the controversy stems from the FBI's decision to cut off relations with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) after the Islamic civil rights organization was listed as a unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorist funding trial of the Holy Land Foundation.

Last summer, the foundation and some of its leaders were found guilty of providing more than $12 million to Hamas, a Sunni-Palestinian terrorist group on the State Department's list of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Under the law, it is illegal for a person in the United States to provide material support to any organization on the list.

CAIR, however, charges that naming it as an unindicted co-conspirator violates its due process rights under the Fifth Amendment as well as the Department of Justice Attorney Guidelines and was used maliciously to harm its reputation.

Muslim-American organizations have also alleged that the FBI has infiltrated American mosques to entrap worshippers into threatening violence against the United States.

But not all Muslim-American organizations agreed with the task force's threat to sever ties with the FBI.

"Disengagement does not enable mutual understanding. It does the exact opposite," Aakif Ahmad, an advisor to two Muslim American organizations, told the Post. "Emotive terms like 'McCarthy-era tactics' undermine the hard work on the part of many people seeking to find common ground."

A large umbrella group of American mosques known as the Islamic Society of North America also said it will not break ties with the FBI but has pressured the agency to open an investigation into whether or not the FBI has been infiltrating mosques.

FBI Spokesman John Miller told the Post that any investigation follows appropriate guidelines and clarified that the FBI only investigates people, not mosques.


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