For Immediate Release
CAIR Seeks FBI Response to NY Rep’s Claim of Mosque Surveillance
Rep. Peter King alleges that ‘a number’ of district mosques being watched
NEW YORK - The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
(CAIR-NY) today called on the FBI to confirm or deny a claim by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) that "a number" of Long Island mosques are under law enforcement surveillance.
In a recent Newsday interview, King said, "right now there are a number of [Long Island] mosques under surveillance by law enforcement agencies." King also claimed the mosques have been under surveillance "for four or five years."
King's allegations about spying on mosques in his district came in
response to a CAIR-NY statement last week calling on elected
representatives to repudiate the congressman's claim that "very few
Muslims come forward to cooperate with the police."
CAIR-NY said that if true, such blanket scrutiny would contradict
public assurances by the FBI that American houses of worship are not
subject to routine surveillance.
In responding to ongoing Muslim concerns about reports of informants and agents provocateurs being placed in American mosques, FBI spokesman John Miller stated recently: "The FBI does not investigate mosques, we investigate people." (Washington Post, 3/28/09)
SEE: Some Influential Muslim Groups Question FBI's Actions (LA Times)
SEE ALSO: Muslims Describe FBI Offers to Act as Informants (Detroit News)
U.S. Muslim Coalition Considers Suspending Relations with FBI
At a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) asked FBI Director Robert Mueller
"whether mosques have been entered by FBI agents or informants without
disclosing their identities under the authority of the attorney general
guidelines and, if so, how many?" Mueller stated: "I will say that we
do not focus on institutions, we focus on individuals."
In a 2008 statement refuting claims that
surveillance records of mosques in California were illegally obtained
and disseminated by a group operating out of the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, the FBI said:
"The FBI does not monitor the lawful activities of
individuals in the United States, nor does the FBI have a surveillance
program to monitor the constitutionally protected activities of houses
of worship. We do not target or monitor legal activity of Muslim groups
anywhere in the nation."
"Congressman King's claim that law enforcement authorities are
engaged in widespread surveillance of Islamic houses of worship in his
district raises serious civil liberties concerns that must be
addressed," said CAIR-NY Community Affairs Director Faiza N. Ali.
"King's repeated use of Islamophobic rhetoric is of deep concern to
Muslims in his district and to the entire American Muslim community."
She said King's claims that American Muslims are not doing enough to
support national security and law enforcement agencies are contradicted
by FBI Director Mueller, who on April 23, 2008,told theU.S. House
Judiciary Committee: "I re-affirm the fact that 99.9 percent of
Muslim-Americans or Sikh-Americans, Arab-Americans are every bit as
patriotic as anybody else in this room, and that many of our cases are
a result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the United
At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 25, 2009,
Director Mueller said the Muslim community "has been tremendously
supportive and worked very closely with [the FBI] in a number of
instances around the country."
In a 2003 interview with The Minaret
magazine, Mueller said: "I would like to thank the Muslim Americans for
their support on the war against terrorism and working with the FBI
around the country as well as state and local law enforcement."
In 2007, CAIR called on Republican leaders to
repudiate remarks by Rep. King in which he said "we have too many
mosques in this country." The Democratic National Committee (DNC) condemned King's statements, calling them "deplorable."
SEE: Rep. King: 'Too Many Mosques' (Video)
King has in the past claimed that the vast majority of mosques in
his state and nationwide are being run by "radicals" and called for
racial profiling of Muslims in airports.
SEE: King Endorses Ethnic Profiling (Newsday)
(Note: King has taken political donations from
members of a New York mosque he claims is a hotbed of radicalism. A
Newsday article stated: "Rep. Peter King is attempting to link his
political opponent to men he calls ‘radical' Muslim leaders on Long
Island, but federal records show the congressman accepted thousands of
dollars last year in campaign contributions from some of the same
In 2004, King said that "85 percent" of American
Muslim community leaders are "an enemy living amongst us" and that "no
[American] Muslims" cooperate in the war on terror. He made these
claims despite the fact that American Muslims consistently condemn
terrorism and work to protect national security.
During a 2008 hearing of the House Homeland
Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing &
Terrorism Risk Assessment, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) challenged King's
criticism of an advertising campaign in New York subway cars designed
to educate the public about Islam. Rep. Pascrell said: "I am deeply
disappointed in any public official or media outlet that would use
harsh rhetoric against this ad campaign which simply seeks to answer
people's questions about Islam."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties group and has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, protect civil liberties, and empower American Muslims.