The FBI violated the 1st Amendment rights of hundreds of Muslims by using a paid informant to target and monitor several Southern California mosques based solely on religion, according to a federal class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Filed on behalf of three Muslim plaintiffs, the suit accuses the FBI and seven of its employees, including Director Robert Mueller, of paying Irvine resident Craig Monteilh to go undercover, infiltrate mosques and record conversations in order to root out potential terrorists.
We recently got taken to the mat by a polite, young Muslim living in the U.K. who took issue with our oft-repeated statement that no Muslim-American lost their life to vigilante violence following 9/11. She provided us a list of six or seven candidates and, after whittling out the ones where the killer was unknown or in cases with mitigating circumstances such as “victim was sleeping with killer’s ex-girlfriend” (and we’re not making that up), we reached a shocking conclusion:
We were wrong.
There is one seemingly unambiguous case that occurred in Dallas, Texas where Waqar Hasan, a Muslim convenience storeowner, was gunned down by Mark Anthony Stroman four days after the 9/11 attacks. Stroman claimed to have been motivated by anger from watching the towers fall. He is not exactly your average American, however, even apart from the shooting. For one thing, he is a white supremacist who carried a felony criminal record at the time of the attack. He also went on to shoot two more people in the weeks that followed.
Thankfully, an American jury sentenced Mark Stroman to death. The same cannot be said of many Muslim terrorists such as Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, who not only have sanctuary in Muslim countries, but are often treated as heroes by devout followers of Muhammad. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that our friend is correct and that there was at least one Muslim killed in an anti-Arab hate crime in the U.S. following the anti-American hate crime on 9/11. For anyone keeping score:
|People killed by radical Muslims on 9/11:||2,996|
|Muslim-Americans killed "in revenge":||1|
The frequency and deadliness of international terrorist attacks continue to drop, but Al Qaeda and Islamist extremism remain an adaptable and convert-recruiting foe – as witnessed by the growing number of cases of home-grown Muslim radicals.
Those are among the findings of “Country Reports on Terrorism,” the State Department’s annual report on international terrorist activity.
Among the highlights: The world witnessed 10,999 terrorist attacks in 2009, down from a high of 14,443 in 2006 (think “height of the Iraq war”) and the lowest number in five years. Also last year, the State Department listed 14,971 fatalities from terrorist attacks – down from nearly 23,000 in 2006. Yet whereas the report claims that Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are losing their allure in the Muslim world, especially over a reaction to attacks that kill Muslims, a related finding is that more Western-reared individuals are hearing the siren of radical Islam.
The following timeline lists terrorist attacks against the United States and Americans living either in the U.S. or abroad.
- Sept. 16, New York City: TNT bomb planted in unattended horse-drawn wagon exploded on Wall Street opposite House of Morgan, killing 35 people and injuring hundreds more. Bolshevist or anarchist terrorists believed responsible, but crime never solved.
- Jan. 24, New York City: bomb set off in historic Fraunces Tavern killed 4 and injured more than 50 people. Puerto Rican nationalist group (FALN) claimed responsibility, and police tied 13 other bombings to the group.
- Nov. 4, Tehran, Iran: Iranian radical students seized the U.S. embassy, taking 66 hostages. 14 were later released. The remaining 52 were freed after 444 days on the day of President Reagan's inauguration.
- Lebanon: Thirty US and other Western hostages kidnapped in Lebanon by Hezbollah. Some were killed, some died in captivity, and some were eventually released. Terry Anderson was held for 2,454 days.
- April 18, Beirut, Lebanon: U.S. embassy destroyed in suicide car-bomb attack; 63 dead, including 17 Americans. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.
- Oct. 23, Beirut, Lebanon: Shiite suicide bombers exploded truck near U.S. military barracks at Beirut airport, killing 241 marines. Minutes later a second bomb killed 58 French paratroopers in their barracks in West Beirut.
- Dec. 12, Kuwait City, Kuwait: Shiite truck bombers attacked the U.S. embassy and other targets, killing 5 and injuring 80.
Over the course of 14 months beginning in 2006, the FBI used Monteilh to “indiscriminately collect” personal information on hundreds or even thousands of Muslim Americans, the lawsuit alleges.
Through this “dragnet” operation, the agency “gathered hundreds of phone numbers, thousands of e-mail addresses, hundreds of hours of video recordings that captured the interiors of mosques, homes and businesses, and ... thousands of hours of audio recordings,” the lawsuit alleges.
Monteilh, who has served prison time for forgery, has previously told The Times that he was recruited by the FBI in 2004 to infiltrate drug-trafficking groups. In 2006, Monteilh said, he was asked to assume the identity of a Muslim convert and go undercover to identify extremists and gather intelligence.
ACLU lawyer Peter Bibring said members of the Muslim community grew suspicious after Monteilh habitually asked probing and invasive questions about their religious beliefs, political views, loyalties and became “increasing aggressive about denouncing U.S. foreign policy.”
“Ironically, the operation ended when members of the Muslim communities of Southern California reported the informant to the police because of his violent rhetoric and ultimately obtained a restraining order against him,” the lawsuit alleged.
Bibring dismisses the idea that the FBI may have been targeting individuals already suspected of criminal activity.MORE