Sunday, February 5, 2012

FBI Intrusion into Muslim Mosques

In this article, members of the Muslim community in Des Moines Iowa were upset earlier this week. They were upset because Arvinder Singh was sent into mosques around the Des Moines area to gather intelligence for the FBI. The FBI wanted Singh to spy in the mosques to see if there were any signs of terrorism.
    Singh stated that he was chosen by the FBI because he appeared to be of Middle Eastern dissent and that they needed his help for the war against terror. Singh jumped at this opportunity because he had been indicted for criminal activity while trying to become a citizen of the United States. Singh claims that the FBI said that if he would spy on the Muslim churches they would grant him citizenship. Singh went around to Muslim mosques pretending to be interested in converting to Islam. He did this for seven years. The FBI supplied him with pictures and names of certain individuals that they wanted to investigate.
    Dr. Hamed Baig, the president of the Islamic Center of Des Moines said, "That was really surprising, very sad that somebody would come or the FBI or Homeland Security would send somebody here to pretend to be Muslim and try to find out what goes on here". He felt that the actions were unnecessary. Anis Rehman, an executive board member of the Islamic Center of Des Moines stated that he feels violated. He feels that the intrusion of someone within the mosque for any other purpose besides prayer or socializing makes him feel embarrassed. Some people within the Iowa Muslim community feels as if their civil rights were violated. Rehman also expressed that their community is small and tight knit and is known around the Des Moines area proving that they are good people. They do not think that the September 11th attack could warrant such an intrusion by the FBI on their small religious community.
    Weysan Dunn, a FBI special agent says that the agency does not confirm or deny that they hired Arvinder Singh and they expressly denied that they gave Singh a deal. The FBI states that they are determined to prove innocence just as much as they are determined to prove guilt and that if they did launch an investigation they are solely interested in finding out the truth.
    I believe that the members of the Islamic community were violated. Although there is no privacy clause expressly written in the Constitution, within the Supreme Court's jurisprudence they have declared that citizens of the United States do have the right to privacy. In my opinion, I do not think that the FBI had enough probable cause to infiltrate multiple mosques within the Des Moines area. Broader implications that can stem from this invasion of privacy is that anytime the FBI or Homeland Security has a hunch that someone is doing something illegal they could send someone to spy on anyone they want, even when these intrusions are not warranted.  I think that the FBI should have found other ways to gather information prior to trampling on people’s rights based only on hunches and speculation. 
    Just because these people are  Muslims doesn't mean that they had something to do with the September 11th attack or are terrorists.  Spying on any American, even Muslim Americans, without probable cause that criminal activity is afoot is not only unconscionable it is, more importantly unconstitutional.  The FBI has every right to gather information to prevent terrorism, they just have to do it legally.  If the Constitution does not protect Muslim Americans from this type of intrusion it may not protect Methodists, Catholics, Jews or any other religious group that may become the target of an FBI investigation.



Emrah K said...

It is very interesting matter. This is obvious that the U.S has fear about Muslims because the U.S has problems with many Islamic countries such as Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. But in this event, I think, just I guess, the plan of FBI is not to spy on Muslims, but its plan is to shake confidence within Muslim community by divulging its ajan. So nobody can trust someone in this community.

Tiffany S. said...

I think this is quite wrong for many obvious reasons. Besides being violated I thought it was also wrong that they were using that man's citizenship status as leverage for him doing this work. The government encourages people to get their citizenship, but instead they are using this mans citizenship to make him do what they want. My other problem is the obvious misuse of the law to discriminate against a religious group. Emrah is also right that it can make it hard for people within the Muslim community to trust one another.

Noorin K. said...

Being a Muslim, I know the constant chatter that goes on behind the scenes. Muslims have been feared since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. I want to emphasize that those was terrorist attacks and not Muslim or Islamic acts of violence. The Muslims here today from what I believe, don’t think that what the extremists did on 9/11 was the Islamic thing to do. It is wrong on many levels to invade someone’s personal space but moving into a person’s holy space is even more unsettling. A mosque for a Muslim is an escape from the outer world to connect with Allah. With the FBI doing such an investigation by entering the mosque for purposes other than prayer makes this no less than an interrogation room.

Sachin G said...

Whats interesting about this article is that they used a man of Indian Descent to spy on Muslims because he looked like a middle eastern. A part of me says, that what FBI did was wrong and scary for the Muslim community. But another part of me says that It has the right to spy on people that could potentially turn into a threat to United States. Yes Muslims are Americans too and they have rights just like any other citizen. But when it comes to matters of National Security, i don't think anyone is above the law. Its probably because of strict security like this that terrorists haven't been able to do terrorize US since 9/11.