Groups accuse the FBI of ethnic profiling


The ACLU along with the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Bay Guardian newspaper are requesting information from the FBI about its domestic intelligence and operations guide. They want the public to know how that guide is being used in 29 states including California.

Mosques are feeling the effects of a new FBI program that critics say is collecting information about Muslim Americans and mapping their behaviors, cultural traditions and activities.

"Such news really affects the community because people are getting scared to come to the mosque," Khaled Olaibah from the Islamic Society of San Francisco said.

He does not believe undercover agents have actually infiltrated his mosque but civil rights organizations say that kind of covert operation is taking place across the country.

"The FBI has been present at community events, including school events with young children present, undercover," Veena Dubal from the Asian Law Caucus said.

The caucus is investigating dozens of complaints from people like a Yemini American who did not want to be identified. He says men he met at a restaurant introduced themselves as FBI agents, asked him to be an informant and now frequently visit him.

"I don't feel comfortable, because I feel like I'm losing something or why they bring another guy. Every time they come, they bring a new person with them," he said.

The FBI says since 9/11, understanding what it calls domains is key to fighting terrorism, but the bureau denies profiling.

A spokesman said, "We are a law enforcement agency responsible for solving crimes. This is a great tool that we use to collect intelligence information. There is nothing sinister or nefarious about it."

But critics call it a fishing expedition that has ordinary Muslim Americans from cab drivers to the owners of corner stores feeling unsafe and distrustful.

"They're wasting resources instead of going after actual criminal threats they are instilling fear in the very community that could tell them about criminal threats. They are instilling fear in Muslims who are just everyday Americans," Dubal said.

The FBI insists its policies do not violate anyone's constitutional rights. This controversy comes on the eve of congressional testimony tomorrow by FBI director Robert Mueller.

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