Snowden Leak: NSA Spied on Muslim-American Leaders

Including a former Homeland Security official
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2014 9:48 AM CDT
Snowden Leak: NSA Spied on Muslim-American Leaders
Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, speaks at a news conference in front of the proposed Islamic center near ground zero in this 2010 file photo.   (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)

The NSA and FBI targeted a number of prominent and seemingly upstanding Muslim-Americans for surveillance, including lawyers, professors, civil rights activists, and even a former Bush administration official, according to the latest revelation from Edward Snowden's document trove. A spreadsheet recapping the thousands of email addresses the NSA monitored under FISA from 2002 to 2008 contains the following people, reveals Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept:

  • Faisal Gill, a Homeland Security official under George W. Bush who held top-level security clearance.
  • Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country's top Muslim civil rights group.
  • Hooshang Amirahmadi, a professor of international relations at Rutgers and founder of the American Iranian Council
  • Agha Saeed, former California State University political science professor, advocate for Palestinian rights, and opponent of government surveillance
  • Asim Ghafoor, a lawyer who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases.

Despite years of surveillance, none of these targets have ever been accused of a crime or linked to a foreign power, and the government's justifications for their surveillance are classified. Former FBI official John Guandolo, who participated in some of the investigations, told the Intercept that the US is rife with "hundreds" of covert Muslim Brotherhood members, and that some had infiltrated the Pentagon—including CIA director John Brennan, whom he considers a "secret Muslim." Other former officials say those views aren't representative of the Justice Department as a whole. Snowden's files do, however, reveal some blatant Islamophobia; one 2005 memo showing how to format a FISA request, for example, uses the placeholder name "Mohammed Raghead" as a target.

The revelations come on the same day as reports that Snowden has applied to extend his asylum in Russia, which expires at the end of the month, according to Russia Today. Click here for more on that, or here for Greenwald's full piece. (Read more Muslim Americans stories.)

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