The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents routinely profiled Muslims in Northern California for at least four years, using community outreach efforts as a guise for compiling intelligence on local mosques, according to documents released by the ACLU. From 2004 to 2008, FBI agents from San Francisco regularly attended meetings and services, particularly in the Silicon Valley area, “collected and illegally stored intelligence” about Muslims beliefs and practices and shared the information with other government agencies, the ACLU said.
The ACLU, the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Bay Guardian filed a Freedom of Information Act request in 2010 and a lawsuit in 2011 after the groups received repeated complaints from the Muslim community about intrusive FBI activity, ACLU attorney Julia Harumi Mass said. “The FBI’s targeting of Muslim Americans for intelligence gathering was not connected to any evidence of criminality, but instead targeted an entire group based on religion,” Mass said. The pattern of surveillance shown in the documents “is an affront to religious liberty and equal protection of the law.” In a brief written statement, FBI Assistant Director Michael Kortan defended the agents’ activities, but said that the agency has adjusted its community outreach efforts.