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FBI surveilling Muslims in US amid Israel war on Gaza, CAIR lawyer reveals

March 20, 2024 at 8:37 am

A citizen holds a placard as non-governmental organisations and university students gather in front of the White House to attend a demonstration of support for the Palestinian people in Washington, United States on February 12, 2024 [Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images]

Muslims in the United States have been subjected to intense scrutiny and interrogation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) throughout Israel’s ongoing offensive on Gaza, a prominent Muslim American lawyer has revealed.

According to the Turkish news wire Anadolu Agency, Dina Chehata, civil rights managing attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Los Angeles office, said that after the start of Israel’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza in October, her office “has received numerous complaints from members of the Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities in Southern California… that FBI agents contacted our community members directly, either by phone or by going to their homes, to question them.”

Calling it “FBI surveillance and interrogation of our community”, she revealed that the complaints centred around incidents in which federal and local law enforcement “asked community members whether they support Hamas, whether they support the use of violence in the war region, and their views on Israel and Hamas.”

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She expressed CAIR’s belief that “many people in our community are being watched and surveilled by the FBI. We also know that the FBI is tracking many people who are not reported directly to us. Therefore, we know that the numbers in the reports we received do not represent the number of people the FBI agents were actually tracking; many more people were investigated.”

Chehata added: “We have issued a warning to our community to be vigilant as we have noticed several consecutive reports of agents interrogating Palestinians over the past week or two.”

Throughout the past five months of Israel’s war crimes in the besieged Gaza Strip, Western nations have seen a staggering rise in anti-Muslim or Islamophobic acts and sentiments.

That rise has at times even led to physical attacks on individuals, such as the shooting of three American-Palestinian young men and a landlord’s killing of his tenant’s child – both of which were perpetrated in the US. The active surveillance of Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians by security services poses yet another concerning development, however, as it could reveal an official bias by authorities against those communities.

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