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Muslim Group Demands Release of FBI Rules:

Mosques Still Spied on

By Sean Emery

Justice Department says it does not want to provide a "road map" for terrorists.

By Sean Emery

 Tuesday, October 20, 2009



A civic liberties group is fighting for full access to the FBI's guidelines on the surveillance of religious communities, arguing that the Justice Departments recent decision to release partially redacted versions of the guidelines left out key passages pertaining to spying in local mosques.

Faced with a pair of lawsuits by Muslim Advocates and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the FBI last month made partially redacted versions of their Domestic Investigations and Operations Guidelines available for public review.

FBI officials describe the guidelines release as a move to greater transparency. But the move wasn't enough for Muslim Advocates, which responded by filing an amended lawsuit arguing that the FBI withheld entire sections dedicated to the infiltration of the Muslim community and religious organizations.

Reports that mosques have been the target of federal surveillance including Irvine resident Craig Monteih recent claims that he spent more than a year pretending to embrace Islam at various Orange County mosques in an FBI-backed effort to uncover possible terrorist threats have frayed the relationship between the FBI and several high-profile Muslim organizations.

FBI officials say the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guidelines were released to "assure the American people that FBI employees will carry out their mission according to an established set of rules and with full respect for the constitutional and statutory rights of the people."

The guidelines are a "living document" that are periodically reviewed and amended, FBI officials said, arguing that not all the guidelines can be released since they would "provide too much of a road map to those who pose a threat to the nation."

Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera said a full, draft version of the guidelines was shared with her organization, as well as other civil rights groups, during a meeting in November, 2008. Along with the surveillance of mosques and Muslim communities, Khera is also concerned about a section of the guidelines she says allows for racial and ethnic mapping of communities.

"This is an unprecedented expansion of FBI power, and there hasn't been a full, honest debate," Khera said.

Muslim Advocates and the Electronics Frontier Foundation aren't the only ones fighting for FBI records.

Earlier this year a federal district court judge ordered the FBI to make available for review 48 pages of surveillance memos pertaining to Southern California Muslim organizations after a lawsuit demanding the information was brought by the ACLU on behalf of several organizations, including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.

Local Muslim leaders say the surveillance information was turned over to the judge, but has not been publicly released.

Contact the writer: 949-553-2911 or




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