Friday, May 30, 2008


May 29, 2008

ACLU, CAIR ask for Congressional hearings on monitoring of California mosques

CAIR's Corey Saylor asks: "Has faith moved from a personal choice to probable cause?" He asks this, mind you, about apparent surveillance of The Islamic Center of San Diego, where, according to the article, "two of the 9/11 hijackers worshiped in early 2000."
He asks this, mind you, as a member of a "civil rights" group that was named an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas jihad terror funding case in 2007, and which has had several of its officials arrested and convicted on various terror-related charges.

He asks this, mind you, in the context of protesting against the surveillance of several Southern California mosques, suggesting that there is no probable cause here despite the testimony of the Muslim Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, as far back as 1999, that 80% of American mosques were controlled by "extremists," and the findings of the Center for Religious Freedom in 2005, that hatred of Jews and Christians and Islamic supremacism were widely taught in American mosques."Reports concern Muslims: Alleged checks on San Diego, L.A. mosques spark calls for hearings," by H.G. Reza for the Los Angeles Times, May 29 (thanks to Twostellas):A report that mosques in Los Angeles and San Diego are under federal surveillance has resurrected fears in the Muslim community about government monitoring and led two civil rights groups Wednesday to call for congressional hearings.
The request for public hearings followed a newspaper article last week that cited FBI and Defense Department files pertaining to surveillance of mosques and Muslims in Southern California.

Corey Saylor, Washington spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the article in the San Diego Union-Tribune "has again raised concerns that our community is being watched."

"We've heard about this in the past, but this article appears to be the first confirmation that surveillance is taking place," Saylor said. "Has faith moved from a personal choice to probable cause?"

Council chapters in Anaheim and San Diego joined the American Civil Liberties Union and Islamic Shura Council of Southern California in asking the U.S. House and Senate judiciary committees and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for hearings. In a letter to the committee chairmen and ranking minority members, the groups said hearings are needed to determine the extent of the surveillance and whether people are being monitored because they are Muslim.

The civil rights groups also want the hearings to determine if the U.S. military has engaged in domestic surveillance in violation of federal law. The Islamic Center of San Diego, where two of the 9/11 hijackers worshiped in early 2000, was the only mosque mentioned in the San Diego Union-Tribune article. The report did not specify which other mosques in Los Angeles and San Diego were allegedly under surveillance. But Saylor said it would not be surprising if mosques in Orange County were also monitored.

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, members of the Islamic Center of Irvine and other local mosques have complained about FBI agents questioning them about imams' sermons and how often they attend services. In 2006, J. Stephen Tidwell, then-FBI assistant director in Los Angeles, met at the Irvine mosque with about 200 people who questioned him about government monitoring.

The meeting was prompted by media reports that the FBI was monitoring Muslim students at UC Irvine and USC. Tidwell denied that monitoring was taking place, telling the audience that "we still play by the rules."

Ramona Ripston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said the congressional hearings would compel the government "to say why they're amassing this information." "There's a lot of suspicion of the Muslim community," she said.

ACLU lawyers regularly go to mosques to advise worshipers that they do not have to answer questions from FBI agents about how long they have been in the United States, how often they attend services and what they get out of the sermons, Ripston said.

Why can't they answer questions like that? Which side is the ACLU on? As if we didn't know already.


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