Spying scandal: FBI surveilling Muslims
The FBI has been illegally gathering personal information on Muslim community groups. (File photo)
A US rights organization has accused the FBI of 'illegally' spying and gathering information on the Muslim community under the guise of holding outreach meetings with the group's representatives.
According to recent documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the FBI has misused its outreach program by running background checks on people at Muslim-related events, The Washington Post reported.
"The FBI has been illegally using its Community Outreach Programs to secretly collect and store information about activities... for intelligence purposes,” ACLU said in a statement.
The documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act, indicate that personal information such as email addresses, phone numbers, physical descriptions, and opinions were recorded in reports described as being for “internal oversight purposes.”
This is while Muslims attending outreach events like job fairs, religious dinners, and community meetings were not informed that their personal information would be recorded in government files.
The FBI's Community Outreach Program was established before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and was designed to improve the American public's trust in the bureau.
Reports have pointed to the discovery of widespread spying programs that documented every single aspect of Muslim life in New York. As part of the projects, police would infiltrate into mosques and student groups and spy on Muslims.
The ACLU has also filed a lawsuit in California, alleging that "the FBI paid an informant to spy on mosques in the state."