US Muslim Advocacy Group launches report revealing wholesale targeting of Muslims in FBI Terrorism Watch Lists
A report published this week on 12th June 2023, by the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), revealed that 98% of the names on the FBI terrorism watch list are Muslim. The report entitled ‘Twenty years too many’ – which is a reference to the so-called ‘War on Terror’, exposes the result of a painstaking scrutiny of the states terrorism database which was sent to CAIR by a hacker. CAIR’s legal staff and researchers analysed just short of 1.5 million entries on the database and found that more than 350,000 included variations of Muslim names. 50 of the most frequent names they found were common Muslim names. The overall analysis concluded that 1.47 million entries focused specifically on Muslims.
Muslim Mayor sensationally denied access to Whitehouse Eid-al-Fitr celebrations after appearing on Watch List
The report cites the sensational case of Muslim Mayor, Mohamed Khairullah, who was disinvited from this year’s Whitehouse Eid-al-Fitr celebrations in May, due to his watch list status. His name according to the FBI appeared on what they called a ‘terrorist screening dataset’ which ensured that literally minutes before his arrival at the White House, he was disinvited by phone.
This caused an uproar across the Muslim community in America and at a press conference organised by CAIR in the days following, demands were made for the President Joe Biden to issue an apology and to discontinue the use of terror watch lists. Mohamed Khairullah, the Prospect Park Mayor and the states longest serving Muslim official, accused the White House of racially profiling him. Speaking at the press conference, Khairullah said:
‘When I first ran for office in 2001, just one year after I became a naturalised citizen, I was hopeful that I could help implement systematic changes within New Jersey that would make life better for American Muslims… Incidents like this — being flagged on a watch list and denied the honor that every leader should be given — make me question our progress.’
CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
'We stand united as 42 Muslim organizations and community partners in demanding a formal apology from the White House for the revoked invitation to Mayor Mohamed Khairullah to the annual Eid al-Fitr celebration. The decision to deny Mayor Khairullah entry raises serious concerns about the discriminatory practices embedded within the watchlist system. It is imperative for the Biden administration to fulfill its commitment to transparency and justice by providing a clear explanation for the denial of Mayor Khairullah’s participation in this important event'
The Executive Director of CAIR’s New Jersey office, Selaedin Maksut further added comment:
‘Islamophobia is a top-down problem in our nation… As long as the United States government treats Muslims with suspicion and discrimination, so will our neighbours’
Lawsuit filed challenging the placement of Muslims 'without due process' in the government's 'Terrorism Screening Database
Back in 2018, the Dallas Fort-Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-DFW), along with CAIR’s national civil rights department, filed a lawsuit which challenged the placement of Muslims ‘without due process, in the government’s Terrorist Screening Database – a watch list they described as one of ‘known or suspected terrorists.’ The lawsuit argued that ‘the government’s widespread practice of designating Muslims on the watch lists without providing individuals notice of the basis for their placement and without offering a meaningful opportunity to contest this designation’ was contrary to the constitution and an infringement of human rights.
CAIR’s Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, further made the point:
'This database is nothing more than a list of innocent Muslim citizens who have not been arrested, charged or convicted of a crime… The extrajudicial use of this draconian and ineffective watch list is incompatible with the rule of law and our American values.’
All Americans should exercise caution
The new report by CAIR, warns that as the War on Terror shifts, the watch list will target new groups and it urges all Americans to be cautious. CAIR calls on President Joe Biden to address the issue, highlighting the challenges faced by those on the watch list, such as travel restrictions, encounters with law enforcement, unexplained closures of bank accounts and limited access to government buildings.
At a press conference hosted by Government Affairs Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Robert McCaw, on Capital Hill, Washington DC, on Monday, he announced that over 600 people had registered from more than 20 states to lobby congress. He said that so far there were reports of over 200 meetings scheduled with congress representatives to bring about change to the use of watch lists and for congress to ‘exert oversight on the watch list’. He pointed out that:
‘The programme might have been created illegally by the Bush administration, but there has been a lack of congressional oversight, a lack in congressional investigations, a lack of members of congress speaking out about this and a lack of congressional reform. We are also having hundreds of delegates meet with their members of congress to ask them to step in and intervene in watch list cases, to help get Muslims who are wrongfully placed on this list, off the list once and for all’