Friends of Refugees

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Archive for the ‘FBI’ Category

Refugee raised in Fargo may be first former refugee to commit terror act in US

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 19, 2016

internet

A 20-year-old 23-year-old Somali man by the name of Dahir Adan who was resettled in Fargo in the mid-1990s when he was 1-year-old has been identified as the attacker who knifed 10 people Saturday at a mall in St. Cloud, Minn.  An off-duty police officer shot and killed Adan during the attack.  All 10 of the victims were released from the hospital.  St. Cloud authorities said during a news conference that they are investigating the stabbing as a possible terrorist attack, and investigators have not yet found anything to link Aden to the Islamic State, though the group claimed him as a “soldier.”  Adan and his family moved from Fargo to St. Cloud around six years ago according to a woman in Fargo who knew the family. The Fargo Police Department reported that Adan never came onto their radar during his years there, and that there is no sign that any radicalization is occurring in Fargo. A board member of a mosque in south Fargo said his organization has worked closely with local police and the FBI to report anyone suspected of taking a fanatical route. Miami defense attorney Khurrum Wahid who has worked to integrate young American Muslims into American life, said in a 2011 splcenter article, however, that some police have approached young Muslim men and demanded they act as community informants, of suffer retaliation from police. Wahid said that police instead need to build trust with young Muslims by telling them that they are wanted in our communities, and by showing them that they treat “terrorism” from non-Muslims in the same way.  He points out that some Muslim youth are socially disenfranchised and searching for identity; that what can alienate young Muslim people is their interaction with the community around them. There’s a feeling of not fitting in, of being very different, especially vis-à-vis non-Muslims. It’s been worse in the last decade, with growing Islamophobia, as well as inflammatory statements coming from political candidates. Young Muslims can begin a journey out of compassion for injustices, perceived or real, committed against Muslims. Often this is combined with very little knowledge of the Koran and the teachings of Islam. Their hope to do something important and stop the injustice can lead them on a search for information, and when they don’t get it from local sources they go to the Internet. Wahid suggests programs like those used to fight gangs, with funds to help young people take part in positive activities.  Aid could also be used to assist American Muslim parents to help these young men through any identity crisis, and bring them back into the American fold.  An article at the Fargo Forum has the details from Fargo:

FARGO, N.D. — In the wake of a random stabbing attack at a St. Cloud, Minn., mall over the weekend, Fargo’s Somali community is trying to come to grips with the unsettling fact that the suspect grew up in the city.

The family of 20-year-old Dahir Adan identified him as the man who knifed 10 people Saturday night. All 10 have been released from the hospital, St. Cloud authorities said.

Adan, who was born in Kenya, and his family left Somalia as refugees and settled in Fargo in the mid-1990s when he was 1-year-old, said Fowzia Adde, a local Somali leader. Adan attended Fargo Public Schools until his family moved to St. Cloud at least six years ago, she said.

“If it can happen to them, it’s not far away from me, so what can I do to prevent?” she wondered. “What can I do to save my children?”…

The Islamic State has claimed Adan as a “soldier,” but St. Cloud authorities said during a news conference on Monday that investigators have not found anything to link him to the militant group. Though, just the possibility that a young man raised in Fargo was radicalized and committed an act of terrorism had local officials concerned.

“If it happens in St. Cloud, it could happen in Fargo,” Mayor Tim Mahoney said.

Chief David Todd said Fargo police gave the FBI basic information it had about Adan and his family. Todd said Adan never came onto the radar of Fargo police.

“I don’t have any indication that radicalization is occurring here in Fargo,” the chief said.

In a joint statement, Mahoney and Todd said residents should not react to the St. Cloud attack based on fear, rather they should be vigilant in reporting suspicious activity…

Adde called for the Somali community to work to steer youth away from groups like the Islamic State.

“We need to sit down, understand what’s going on with our children, help them understand who they are,” she said…

Dr. Mohamed Sanaullah, one of the…board members [of the Islamic Society of Fargo-Moorhead, a mosque in south Fargo], said people who commit attacks in the name of Islam are not Muslims. He said the society has worked closely with local police and the FBI to report anyone thought to be taking a fanatical route… Read more here

Posted in alienation-isolation, discrimination, FBI, men, Muslim, North Dakota, police, right-wing, security/terrorism, Somali, St. Cloud, teens, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism, young adults | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

US government screening agencies approve less than half of applications received

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 5, 2016

application

Some politicians and pundits keep repeating that the United States has no way of properly vetting refugees.  Not only is that false, but US government security screening agencies reject over half of refugee applications to the US. An article at Human Rights First explains the issue:

…While many have rightly expressed the importance of maintaining a high level of scrutiny on those entering the United States, others have made the outrageous claim that the United States has no way of properly vetting refugees. It cannot be understated: this claim is completely and emphatically untrue.

Every refugee that steps foot on American soil has undergone a stringent multi-agency, multi-step screening process that typically takes 18-24 months. The State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Counter-terrorism Center, and the FBI each utilize multiple information databases and biometric screening information when determining whether a refugee is destined for the United States—and not all are. Expert intelligence analysts in these screening agencies report that they approve less than half of applications they receive.

Before these screenings even take place, refugees must first receive an official designation from the United Nations to be referred to a resettlement country. They have no control over what country they are designated to. Being resettled at all is a statistical improbability for a refugee. Last year the world resettled less than one half of one percent of the 21 million refugees in need, according to UNHCR… Read more here

Posted in Dept of Homeland Security, FBI, right-wing, security/terrorism, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Trump calls for ‘Extreme Vetting’ of refugees; US already does it

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 15, 2016

vetting

U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump said in a speech Monday that he would institute “extreme vetting” for refugees to block anyone who would do harm to the country. Trump either isn’t familiar with the federal government’s already existing “extreme vetting” process for refugees or is trying to exploit his audience’s ignorance and fears.  According to the State Department, after first being vetted by the United Nations, applicants go though a laborious process that includes fingerprinting, interviews, photographing, and background checks by the National Counterterrorism Center, the Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Defense, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. An article at teleSUR explains:

U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump said in a speech Monday that he would institute “extreme vetting” for refugees to catch those who seek to do harm, despite the fact the U.S. already requires the few refugees it allows in from countries like Syria to go through a two-year screening process.

“In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test,” Trump said, reading prepared remarks from a teleprompter. “The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. Those who do not believe in our constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country.”

Trump either isn’t familiar with his country’s already existing “extreme vetting” process for refugees or is exploiting his audience’s ignorance. While more than 1 million refugeees arrived in Europe in 2015, the U.S. accepted less than 2,000 Syrians, all of whom were required to go through countless interviews and background checks as part of U.S.’s two-year screening program…

The White House last year published last year a blog with several infographics, which Trump could have easily accessed here before making his comments, showing the lengthy process refugees would have to go through in order to be resettled in the country. “Refugees undergo more rigorous screening than anyone else we allow into the United States,” the blog notes…

Despite the fear mongering, however, “Islamic terror” has been responsible for far less killings in the U.S. than any other source, according to data by New America Foundation released in June.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 28 deadly homegrown terrorist incidents took place in the U.S., with 18 of them carried out by right-wing extremists… Read more here

Posted in Dept of Homeland Security, FBI, right-wing, security/terrorism, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Twin Falls police investigate threats over Fawnbrook assault

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 28, 2016

threats

After failing at their disinformation campaign about a child who was sexually abused in Twin Falls last week (there was no gang rape, not at knife point, and not by Syrian refugees) right-wing activists have now turned to making threats against city officials.  Police and the FBI are looking into violent threats left at city offices.  An article in the Times-News explains:

TWIN FALLS — Police and the FBI are looking into violent threats left at city offices and made against city officials over the handling of a sexual assault on a 5-year-old girl.

Twin Falls Mayor Shawn Barigar and Vice Mayor Suzanne Hawkins have both forwarded threatening messages they received about the incident to police.

Three boys from Middle Eastern families, ages 7, 10 and 14, were involved in the sexual assault against the girl at the Fawnbrook Apartments on June 2, authorities have said.

Two of the boys are Sudanese, one Iraqi. The two older boys are facing juvenile charges.

The story started to get national attention about a week ago after the two older boys were taken into custody. Several anti-Muslim and anti-refugee resettlement bloggers wrote about the case, with some incorrectly saying the boys were Syrian or containing details authorities have denied, including saying the assault was a gang-rape and that the boys held the girl at knife-point. Many of them accused law enforcement, city officials and local media of trying to cover up the incident.

“I’ve had my fair share of emails from folks this week sharing their concerns, and a fair amount of just outright lies and wrong information about this very tragic case that’s being handled,” Barigar said Friday.

Barigar said several of the emails and phone messages, “are what I would characterize as threatening personally to me and family”…

“I don’t believe it’s our local citizens doing it,” she said of the threats. Read more here

Posted in FBI, police, right-wing, Twin Falls, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Straw-man argument for necessity of “foolproof”vetting process – one that cannot fail

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 23, 2016

 Sanders County, Montana

Sanders County, Montana

With no Syrian refugees haven been resettled to Montana and no requests to do so the Sanders County Board of Commissioners have unanimously decided to deny support for any Syrian refugee—unless there is a perfect system; one that can omits errors; a vetting system that is “foolproof”. Of course, no system of any type could meet such a standard, which is the exact intent of the usage of such language. In crafting a national bill in the US Congress last year Republican lawmakers used the same reasoning; that the FBI director be required to certify the background investigation for each Syrian or Iraqi refugee admitted to the United States, and Homeland Security and intelligence officials would have to certify that they are not security threats — a process FBI director Comey calls “impractical”. It would not be possible to certify that Americans pose no security threat or would never commit a crime. In fact, every one of us is more likely to be killed in right-wing domestic terrorist attacks than by a Muslim extremist attack.  The Clark Fork Valley Press has the story:

THOMPSON FALLS — The message is clear from the Sanders County Board of Commissioners: We do not want Syrian refugees on our land, “draining” resources, “impacting” the tax base, and possibly putting everyone in harm’s way. In an official letter addressing the issue, the commissioners cite a vetting process that is “foolproof”—meaning, one that cannot fail. Ever. And so, they have heard many voices ranging from Syrians are automatically terrorists to anti-Muslim attitudes—because according to many people, being a Muslim is proof of an egregious slight against the laws of God and nature…

The Sanders County commissioners have unanimously decided to deny support for any Syrian refugee—unless there is a perfect system; one that can omits errors, using language in the official letter; a vetting system that is “foolproof”…

Is there no risk there, too? Where is their letter demanding Helca mining company devise a “foolproof” system that won’t deposit waste directly into the Clark Fork River?…

“Resettling of refugees will also burden Sander County’s resources,” the letter goes on to say. “Our County already struggles with one of the highest unemployment rates in Montana. An influx of refugees would impact our social services, health care and local schools and have significant impact (sic) on our local tax base”…

“Influxes of refugees will overburden our community’s social services, health care agencies, affordable housing, job opportunities and local school districts, many of which carry an impact to our local taxpayers…

In an email dated April 1, [Montana Gov. Steve Bullock] said that “no Syrian refugees have been settled in Montana and there are no formal requests to do so”… Read more here

One thing that is clear to me from looking at the conservative counties leaders’ rejections of refugees around the country is that they predicate their justifications on myths, such as that refugees “drain” resources, or that the government does not conduct any security screening of refugees. The U.S. State Department has a useful list of these myths at Newsroom America Feeds:

MYTH: The United States government brings refugees here without screening.

FACT: All refugees of all nationalities considered for admission to the United States are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to our country, involving multiple federal intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies, such as the National Counterterrorism Center, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Departments of Homeland Security, State and Defense, in order to ensure that those admitted are not known to pose a threat to our country. The safeguards include biometric (fingerprint) and biographic checks, and an interview by specially trained DHS officers who scrutinize the applicant’s explanation of individual circumstances to ensure the applicant is a bona fide refugee . Mindful of the particular conditions of the Syria crisis, Syrian refugees go through an enhanced level of review….

MYTH: Refugees are an undue burden to the U.S. taxpayer when they come to the United States.

FACT: The U.S. resettlement program is predicated on able-bodied adults obtaining jobs and supporting themselves and their families as soon as possible after arrival. And while it can be difficult for newly arrived refugees to find employment within a few short months after arrival, especially during times of general economic hardship, they tend to make it happen. In fact, a study conducted in Cleveland, Ohio found that refugees placed in the Cleveland area typically found employment within five months of their arrival in the United States… Read more here

Posted in Dept of Homeland Security, FBI, legislation, Montana, right-wing, security/terrorism, State Department, Syrian, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Government Has Taken Serious Steps to Reduce Security Risks in Refugee Screening

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 23, 2015

magnifying glass and thumb print on white background. CRIME DETECTIVE THUMBPRINT MAGNIFYING GLASS FINGERPRINT FOTOLIA

Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner recently called the refugee security screening process, “the most stringent security process for anyone entering the United States.” In fact, the refugee program is the toughest way for any foreigner to enter the US Legally. Applicants go though a laborious process that includes investigations by the National Counterterrorism Center, the Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Defense, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These agencies use biographical and biometric information about applicants to conduct a background check, including fingerprinting and retina scans (and matched against criminal databases), photographs taken, identification of family trees, and other background information over a period that lasts on average 18-24 months (and up to three years). Biographical information such as past visa applications are scrutinized to make sure the applicant’s story coheres. Some have DNA tests. A Department of Homeland Security officer with training in this screening process as well as specialized training for Syrian and Iraqi refugee cases interviews each applicant. The applicant also goes through in-depth interviews by a DHS officer with training in the process as well as specialized training for Syrian and Iraqi refugee cases. Refugees from Syria also go through another layer of screening, called the Syria Enhanced Review process, a process built on years of experience in vetting Iraqi refugee applicants. Military combatants are weeded out. Additionally, the lengthy security checks are done in cooperation with international and national police agencies like Interpol and Scotland Yard. Biometric data and personal information are vetted at every step of the application process.  The security process is part of a 13-step process necessary for resettlement (as outlined in a USCRI chart). The refugee screening process is also constantly refined. [Note* – the bill the US House passed last week adds no additional scrutiny to the screening process.  Instead it would require federal agencies to “certify” each Syrian or Iraqi refugee is not a security threat – a step FBI director Comey calls “impractical”.]  An article at CNN describes part of the rigorous security screening process:

Much attention has been focused on the security vetting refugees must go through before they come to the United States, particularly after it was revealed that one of the terrorists in the Paris attacks entered Europe through a refugee processing center.

Several federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are involved in the process, which Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner recently called, “the most stringent security process for anyone entering the United States.”

These agencies use biographical and biometric information about applicants to conduct a background check and make sure applicants really are who they say they are… Read more here

Posted in Department of Defense, Dept of Homeland Security, FBI, Iraqi, security/terrorism, Syrian | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Attacker of Albuquerque Iraqi Catholic refugee yelled anti-Muslim obscenities

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 17, 2014

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An Iraqi Catholic refugee alleges she was assaulted in her Albuquerque apartment and robbed of $20,000 in gold. Now the FBI is investigating the case as a possible federal hate crime. An article in the Daily Reporter covers the story:

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — An Iraqi Catholic refugee who was assaulted in her Albuquerque apartment appears to be the victim of a hate crime by an attacker who yelled obscenities about Muslims, police said.

According to Albuquerque police, a man last week forced his way into the home of Seham Jaber, shouting nasty remarks about Muslims and punching her in the head and stomach. The intruder then tore up her family’s citizenship papers in the June 5 attack, investigators said.

“The irony is the individual thought the family was Muslim, and they’re actually refugees from Iraq who are Catholic,” Albuquerque police spokesman Simon Drobik said.

Jaber, who speaks Arabic, told police the unknown assailant also stole at least $20,000 in gold, which represented her family’s life savings. The assailant also stole jewelry, she said.

“No house, no car. It was all in gold,” Saad Sajet, Jaber’s husband, told the Albuquerque Journal.

The suspect was described as wearing a mask, jeans and a yellow T-shirt.

No arrest has been made.

The FBI now is investigating the case as a possible federal hate crime, Albuquerque police said Friday… Read more here

Posted in anti-Islamic, Catholic, dangerous neighborhoods, FBI, hate crimes, Iraqi, New Mexico, police, women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Trying to survive the smear of false terrorism charges

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 6, 2012

Last summer three Eritrean refugees were arrested after they tried to board an airplane, at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport going to Des Moines, with a carry-on bag that contained a broken cellphone taped to a tin of helva (a sesame-paste-based food flavored with vanilla). The charges? Having a “hoax device” and “conspiracy” to obtain a hoax device. The three tried to explain that they were just trying to take candy and the old phone to friends. Authorities claimed, however – via questionable reasoning – that the three were attempting to do a trial run to see if they could get a “real bomb” through security, since this was assuredly not a real bomb (helva is not explosive, nor were there any fake wires or a fake detonation device attached). The authorities also deemed suspicious the three traveling in the month of August, being so close to the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, you see – and besides, everyone knows that cell phones are used to detonate bombs. Surely the refugees must have carried aboard a broken cell phone during this “dry run” to fool authorities into thinking that it could not be used to trigger a detonator. But what about that tin of helva, that was suspicious wasn’t it? Well, helva it turns out is an Eritrean ethnic food. Maybe they were trying to trick authorities into thinking the helva was not suspicious since Eritreans are known to eat helva. Plus, some might say it would be nitpicking to point out that federal agents, in first contacts with the Eritrean refugees, used an interpreter that did not speak their Kunama language, thus leading to faulty linguistic interpretations.

Now the three are trying to overcome the false “terrorist” label affixed to them in public opinion. This smear is now an obstacle to employment, nine months later, and months after all charges were suddenly dropped. An article in The Republic looks at the aftermath of the false charges:

Civil war drove Shullu Gorado from his home in Eritrea, a small country on the Horn of Africa, and landed him — like most Kunama — in a refugee camp in neighboring Ethiopia.

Ethiopia was no kinder to the refugees than their war-torn homeland, but the United States welcomed the Kunama people, promising safety and the opportunity for a new life to the former farmers and shepherds. In four years,Gorado rose steadily through the ranks at a local supermarket, stashing away savings and taking general-education and English-language classes as he worked toward a new future in a new country.

But after being arrested on suspicion of plotting to sneak a hoax explosive device through airport security, serving two months in a federal detention facility, then having the charges against him dropped in December, Gorado and Asa Shani are branded as terrorists in the eyes of many. Among those viewing them with suspicion, they say, are prospective employers who need only perform a perfunctory Internet search to find coverage of their arrests… Read more here

Posted in Eritrean, FBI, Phoenix, police, security/terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

FBI ‘community outreach’ to foster trust and generate goodwill?

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 29, 2012

Documents uncovered by The Associated Press revealed that the New York Police Department conducted an extensive surveillance campaign of the Muslim population in the northeast. Now it turns out that the FBI in San Francisco used a public relations program announced as “mosque outreach” to collect information on the religious views and practices of Muslims in Northern California. The claimed intention of the FBI outreach programs was to foster trust between law enforcers and members of the Muslim community so they could work together to fight crime and avert terrorism. We learn now, however, that the FBI was operating the community outreach in Northern California as part of a secret and systematic intelligence gathering program, and conducted without any apparent evidence of wrongdoing. The legacy of this deception will, no doubt, be to undermine trust for genuine outreach programs. An article at Msnbc.com has the story:

The FBI in San Francisco used a public relations program billed as “mosque outreach” to collect information on the religious views and practices of Muslims in Northern California and then shared the intelligence with other government agencies, according to FBI documents obtained by civil rights groups.

The heavily redacted documents, released after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, raise “grave constitutional concerns,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the National Security Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“In San Francisco, we have found that community outreach was being run out of the FBI’s intelligence division and was part of a secret and systematic intelligence gathering program,” conducted without any apparent evidence of wrongdoing,” said Shamsi. “The bureau’s documentation of religious leaders’ and congregants’ beliefs and practices violates the Privacy Act, which Congress passed to protect Americans’ First Amendment rights.”…

…The documents indicate that FBI was keeping records of conversations and activities within mosques and other Muslim organizations from 2004 through 2008, information that was provided by employees engaged in the outreach programs.

The announced intention of the FBI outreach programs is to foster trust between law enforcers and members of the Muslim community so they can work together to fight crime and avert terrorism…

…documents still under analysis by the ACLU indicate FBI San Francisco continued to mingle outreach and intelligence gathering through 2011, according to Shimsa.

The documents undermine trust for genuine outreach programs, said Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that makes policy recommendations to lawmakers and leaders.

“I think the recent documents further underscore how well-intentioned community leaders who talk with the FBI are instead the targets of this broad, intelligence-gathering effort,” she said. “It’s easy to see then how that community leader who had a conversation with an FBI agent finds himself being harassed when traveling or crossing borders.”

“These documents are illustrating the actual experiences of American Muslims that we have been hearing for a number of years now,” she added…

…Rules governing FBI surveillance were relaxed in 2008 to give more leeway to FBI “assessments” — a stage of surveillance that takes place before the opening of a formal investigation. These more lenient standards, critics say, allow information gathering on individuals without probable cause.

Rights groups are asking the Department of Justice to restore stricter rules on surveillance and to prohibit racial and religious profiling in all cases.

“What we need is for the FBI to go back to the standards set after the Hoover-era abuses.… guidelines put in place that required the FBI to engage in surveillance only if there’s evidence of wrongdoing,” said Khera of Muslim Advocates. Read more here

Posted in California, FBI, Muslim, NYC, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, security/terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NYPD Apparently Targeting Buffalo-Area Citizens and Refugee Population Based On Ethnicity and Religion, Not Criminal Activity

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 18, 2012

It seems that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has focused on Buffalo-area Muslims and Somalis (including people and citizens resettled as refugees), not based upon on known criminal activity, but instead based upon these people’s ethnicity and religion. Although the NYPD, unlike the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department need not predicate domestic surveillance on information that their target is engaged or about to engage in criminal activity, the NYPD did not fully consult with local police and other federal security agencies about its activities in Buffalo. There is no sign that the Strategic Intelligence Unit announced its activities to the Buffalo area’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a cooperative effort that includes federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. There is also the concern that actions by the NYPD could be jeopardizing the good relationship that local law enforcement authorities have with the local Somali and Muslim populations, including US citizens. An article at the Buffalo News explains:

The New York City Police Department’s focus on Buffalo-area Muslims continues to this day. Further, an internal document indicates the surveillance began even before NYPD detectives met with the Erie County undersheriff in December 2008 to describe their “Somalia Project.”…

…At the same time, there is no sign that the Strategic Intelligence Unit announced its activities to the Buffalo area’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a cooperative effort that includes federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

The Associated Press in recent months revealed the NYPD’s covert efforts to examine Muslim businesses, infiltrate mosques and keep an eye on Muslim students on college campuses, not just in New York City but in locations around the Northeast. The Muslim Student Association website at the University of Buffalo was among those monitored, a separate NYPD document shows.

The NYPD calls its surveillance and intelligence-gathering legal and necessary and does not apologize for the program. The department after 9/11 determined it “could not rely solely on the federal government” for its defense. Says Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly: “Our primary mission, our primary goal, is to keep this city safe.”

Yet ethnicity and religion, not criminal activity, seem to have sparked the NYPD’s interest around the Northeast, including Buffalo…

…Unlike the NYPD, the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department must predicate domestic surveillance on information that their target is engaged or about to engage in criminal activity.

“I can tell you that we don’t predicate any investigation based on somebody’s race, or color, or national origin, or on the exercise of their First Amendment rights,” said William J. Hochul, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York. “In terms of the bigger picture, why was the NYPD doing what it was? I don’t have all the details.”…

…If the NYPD did not provide a heads-up on its activities to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, it should have, said a former agent-in-charge here for the FBI.

“If I had still been up there that would have bothered me a lot,” said Peter J. Ahearn, who headed the FBI office in Buffalo from 2001 to 2006 and now works as a consultant helping businesses deal with government. “With the reputation the NYPD does have, and I know this factually, they will do different things in cities around the country and not even let law enforcement know they are there.

“There are reasons to be concerned,” he said. “If you are not talking to law enforcement, and the local police department rolls up on you, it creates an officer-safety issue. Also it can prove detrimental to the efforts that the local law enforcement community is making in the Muslim community. We had some very good community outreach up there.”

Dr. Khalid Qazi, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York, agrees.

“This is all related to the security of the homeland, I don’t have any doubt about that,” he said of the NYPD’s foray into Buffalo. “The only question in my mind is, when we are working very cooperatively, and in a very proactive fashion for the security of the homeland, whether these types of actions are counterproductive.

“And I guess the issue always will be, where do we stop so we don’t compromise the civil rights and civil liberties of innocent Americans?”…

…Yahye Y. Omar, chairman of the Imams Council of Western New York, also is active on the West Side, especially as executive director of HEAL — Help Everyone Achieve Livelihood — a nonprofit that helps immigrants and refugees.

He is engaged in a long-standing effort to make the Islamic way of life less mysterious to outsiders, and to encourage Somali youth to consider how they can enrich their community.

In 2010, he helped establish a law enforcement education program for Somali high school and college students. It brought in representatives from the FBI, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and the State Police to speak about the role of law enforcement, and careers. On a wall of his office, Omar has proudly placed a photo of a local Somali now with the Baltimore Police Department…

…Omar expressed [his] sentiments about the NYPD surveillance…why does the New York police force need contacts in the Somali and Muslim community here after its members have cooperated so much with local authorities?… Read more here

Posted in Buffalo, Dept of Homeland Security, Dept. of Justice, FBI, Muslim, NYC, security/terrorism, Somali | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »