Spying on American Muslims—again

By Spying on American Muslims—again | Last updated: Jul 18, 2014 - 11:45:48 AM

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“O children of Adam, let not the devil seduce you, as he expelled your parents from the garden, pulling off from them their clothing that he might show them their shame. He surely sees you, he as well as his host, from whence you see them not. Surely We have made the devils to be the friends of those who believe not.”
Holy Qur’an, Chapter 7, Verse 27


It is truly the last days of the current civilization or world as scripture jumps off the pages of holy books and onto the pages of newspapers, websites and social media headlines. Such was the case when investigative journalists Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain revealed the National Security Agency was again spying on American Muslims for no apparent reason.

We say again because not only was this sorry activity a hallmark of the 1960s and 1970s with covert FBI operations like the Counterintelligence Program, which targeted the Nation of Islam and other so-called dissident groups, but as recently as 2009, reports surfaced about the National Security Agency directly snooping on the Nation. “Revelations that the Department of Homeland Security gathered, held and distributed intelligence information on the Nation of Islam drew condemnation from analysts and civil liberties advocates and left two Black congressmen expressing concern about whether the operation was proper,” The Final Call reported at the time.


“A lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union uncovered the targeting of the Nation of Islam as the advocacy groups sought information on the extent of some domestic intelligence operations. … While newspaper reports said Homeland Security improperly gathered information in 2007, as part of its speculation about who might succeed the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan as leader of the Nation of Islam, a review of the documents released shows federal officials admitted holding the report beyond a specific time period and saw that as a violation.”

“As a former law enforcement professional, it is unfortunate that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have deepened the relationship gap by fostering mistrust and suspicion,” Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) said in a statement in response to The Final Call in 2009. “This practice is unacceptable to any religious organization, including the Muslim faith. Instead of knocking down bridges, they should be focused on building them by strengthening relationships and making our communities safer and better.”

The Homeland Security officials admitted in the nearly 80 year history of the Nation there is no record of violence, calling for violent overthrow of the government, or carrying of weapons—which is forbidden in the Nation of Islam. Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001 the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has issued numerous public statements condemning terrorist acts that take the lives of innocent human beings. He has publicly stated that if the Nation of Islam knew of anyone who was planning a terrorist act the Nation would try to stop it.

The recent report published by The Intercept ( was based on archives from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and a spreadsheet with nearly 7,500 e-mail addresses apparently monitored between 2002 and 2008. According to The Intercept, five high-profile Muslim-Americans were among the target:  “Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush; Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases; Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University; Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights; and Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country,” said information provided by the website.

“ ‘FISA’ stands for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which permits the government to legally obtain warrants to spy on Americans only if it demonstrates probable cause that they are agents of an international terrorist organization or foreign power. The targets must also be engaged in espionage, sabotage, or terrorism, or aiding someone who is. But a three-month investigation by The Intercept reveals that in practice, the system for authorizing NSA surveillance affords the government wide latitude in spying on U.S. citizens. The five Americans spied on by the NSA have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none has been implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and the press,” said The Intercept.

“ ‘I just don’t know why,’ says Gill, whose AOL and Yahoo! email accounts were monitored while he was a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. ‘I’ve done everything in my life to be patriotic. I served in the Navy, served in the government, was active in my community—I’ve done everything that a good citizen, in my opinion, should do.’ ”

In an interview with The Final Call, investigative reporter Murtaza Hussain explained how the targets were Muslims from immigrant backgrounds. Nothing in the investigation showed any wrongdoing, he said. The journalistic work also showed “in the FBI and other organizations there was a very prejudicial, some documents revealed, prejudicial attitudes towards Muslim Americans and conspiratorial attitudes.” There was no reason for the surveillance for many years, he said.

“One (report) was referring to generic surveillance calling ‘Muhammad Raghead’ was the name that they gave it. So the Obama administration responded to that specifically and said they would investigate the use of racial slurs” by the NSA and FBI employees, he said.

But looking into racial slurs is not enough, what is needed is the dismantling of the secret surveillance network inside America that targets her own citizens. And it appears that instead of going after those with an avowed commitment to violently overthrow the U.S. government, there is an obsession with Islam and control of Islam.

Why is this religion such a threat?

Islam in this country has a great history for reformation and community-building. In particular, the Nation of Islam has undertaken to solve social and economic problems it did not create. The Muslims have taken to the streets to lessen tension and promote peace based on the principled mission of uplifting a fallen people. Despite that, the Nation of Islam is seen as the enemy. Are we the enemy because you wish to destroy our people and our attempts to save them ruin your plans?

Immigrant Muslims have largely contributed to this country and its development and many have gone out of their way to be fully American, even if it meant discarding some aspects of their Islamic identity. Nothing it seems will satisfy those who see Islam as the enemy.

These revelations of snooping are not surprising but they should again remind us to be aware. To be aware of those who whisper and promote evil plots, to beware of those who sow dissention in the ranks, to beware of those who desire to pit brother against brother, sister against sister and Islamic community against Islamic community.

Let us continue to pray, fast, do our work and follow the injunction of the Holy Qur’an that calls on the Muslims to stand together as a solid wall and stay united. For if one part of the scripture is true, the other parts are true. We are assured of victory so long as we remain true to our faith and our God. We cannot be stopped so long as we remain faithful—and watchful.