Muslim advocates in the US shaken by concerns about spying on the community

Dec 30, 2021: Two incidents, revealed earlier this month by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have shaken Muslim advocates in the United States and renewed longstanding concerns about spying on the community.

In one case, a major Muslim-American advocacy group reported that a “mole” had infiltrated the leadership of one of its state branches. Days later, the organisation said a “spy” at a US mosque had passed information on to an “anti-Muslim” group.

The CAIR chapter said on December 15 that he had fired Romin Iqbal, its executive and legal director in the Columbus Cincinnati area, for “serious moral and professional violations.” CAIR accuses Iqbal of providing classified information to the Terrorism Investigation Project (IPT).

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights organisation that tracks hate groups in the US, has said the IPT was founded by an “anti-Muslim activist”.

Meanwhile, CAIR’s national office in Washington, DC said on December 21 that another individual volunteering at a US mosque had come forward and said he was paid by Steven Emerson, IPT’s executive director, to provide information on the community.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Muslim Americans have faced surveillance incidents, numerous discriminatory policies – including travel restrictions – and an increase in hate crimes, while being targeted by federal and local law enforcement Intelligence programs run by agencies.

Between 2002 and 2014, the New York Police Department devoted an entire unit to spying on the city’s Muslim population. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), police mapped out where New York Muslims live, recruited informants from within the Muslim community, and monitored mosques.

CAIR has also accused the IPT of “cooperating” with Israeli authorities. On Tuesday, the Muslim Advocacy Group shared screenshots showing an exchange of e-mails between Steven Emerson, IPT’s executive director, and Israeli government officials, which led to the study by Students for Justice in Palestine, led by students at American universities. Advocacy groups, and Palestinian factions, are calling for possible links between Hamas.

IPT rejects being labelled a hate group. It says it is a research organisation and a “principal source of critical evidence to a wide variety of government offices and law enforcement agencies”. The SPLC meanwhile has described Emerson as an “anti-Muslim activist”.

Abed Ayoub, legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a civil rights advocacy group, ikened the spying on Muslims to violent attacks on Arab-American civil rights organisations in the 1980s and 90s and alleged collaboration between Emerson and the Israeli government shows the overlap between anti-Palestinian sentiment and Islamophobia.

Stay tuned to BaaghiTV for latest news and Updates!

Germany withdraws award for Srebrenica genocide denier