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Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On


Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

 By Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain (The Intercept)

The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans—including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers—under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.

According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:

• 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;

• Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.

The individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called “FISA recap”—short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also “are or may be” engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed by the court, usually every 90 days for U.S. citizens.

The spreadsheet shows 7,485 email addresses listed as monitored between 2002 and 2008. Many of the email addresses on the list appear to belong to foreigners whom the government believes are linked to Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. Among the Americans on the list are individuals long accused of terrorist activity, including Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

But a three-month investigation by The Intercept—including interviews with more than a dozen current and former federal law enforcement officials involved in the FISA process—reveals that in practice, the system for authorizing NSA surveillance affords the government wide latitude in spying on U.S. citizens.

The five Americans whose email accounts were monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is known to have been implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and the press. Some have even climbed the ranks of the U.S. national security and foreign policy establishments.

“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.”

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  • Abed

    Right. You have a proved your high class, and the intelligent and educated standards of this forum by childishly cursing a person who doesn’t share your opinions. Muslim tolerance I suppose? Or is it “western colonialism” that is to blame for your uncontrolled aggression?

  • Jekyll


  • The greenmantle

    I am sure there is an app for that on Discus 🙂

    Sir David

  • Iman

    Maybe there are christens who make fun of god or Jesus but am sure they can’t make fun of yehwa or Moses . What kind of assimilation you want the Moslems to have, become Christians or Jewish . The Christian crusades who remaind in Arab lands never assimilated to Arab culture and still speak French as their first language and refuse to speak Arabic and look down to Arabs . Many Moslem Americans are proud to be Americans . It seems to me that you have a big issue with your neighbors , so deal with it or move because Moslems are gonna be in America and Europe for a long time.

  • The greenmantle

    people in glass houses should not throw stones

    Sir David

  • Abed

    I apologize for blaming you for censorship, I misunderstood the way commenting works here.

    As for the rest, I stand behind my words. I don’t hate Muslims…I just think there are serious problems in the Muslim world today, and these problems are the main reason Islam raises more antagonism than any other religion today. Obviously I don’t make this up, just Google “most hated religion” and see which religion comes up on top.

    But you can keep yelling in this echo room and convince yourself it’s all about the media, fear of of the growing numbers of Muslims, or Zionist plot (there’s an intersection between global warming and number of pirates in the seas as well).

    And personally I don’t have to “learn to live” with Muslims – I live in a city where a third of the population is Muslim, so they are not aliens to me.

  • Sam Seed

    Stop whining will ya, your comment is published. Islam is the most villified religion and hated by those that can’t comprehend that it’s numbers are increasing at an unprecedented rate.

  • The greenmantle

    Glad my tax money is not going to pay for this

    Sir David

  • A Muslim Guy

    Monitor this: may God’s curse be upon those who spy on others.

  • mindy1

    Ya know, this pathetic, mainly because the time and effort wasted watching those people is time and energy NOT watching ACTUAL terrorists

  • Lex

    in a nsa memo they refered to a muslim john doe as “mohammed raghead”

    Classy real classy

  • LiesYouTell

    Today a Muslim on Twitter created the hashtag #iamatarget to address this issue, and Geller and Spencer completely hijacked it for their Islamophobic agenda.

  • The greenmantle

    Can we ask Glen if/ when we are being monitored 🙂

    Sir David

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