FBI illegally using community outreach to gather intelligence, ACLU and CAIR alleges

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today expressed concern about the “chilling effect” on constitutionally-protected activities that may result from the apparent use of FBI community outreach efforts to secretly gather intelligence on American Muslim communities, groups and individuals.

According to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “the FBI is using its extensive community outreach to Muslims and other groups to secretly gather intelligence in violation of federal law.”

The FBI is using its extensive community outreach to Muslims and other groups to secretly gather intelligence in violation of federal law, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged Thursday.

Citing internal bureau documents, the ACLU said agents in California are attending meetings at mosques and other events and illegally recording information about the attendees’ political and religious affiliations. FBI officials denied the allegations. They said that records kept from outreach sessions are not used for investigations.

The documents reveal new details of the FBI’s efforts to build a more trusting relationship with Muslims and other communities — a major priority since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Federal officials have said that the effort is aimed at protecting Muslims’ civil rights and smoothing lingering resentment over the law-enforcement crackdown after the attacks, along with helping the government fight terrorism.

Mississauga, Ontario mosque offers free hot meals

Toronto Star – September 28, 2011

Heeding the Qur’anic instruction to assist the needy, Jamia Riyadhul Jannah mosque in Mississauga, Ontario will start offering free meals, seven days a week from noon to 7 p.m., starting Friday. The Sunni/Sufi mosque, located in an industrial park near Credit View and Argentia Rds., is the first North American mosque to provide hot meals to all regardless of faith, organizers claim. The halal menu will vary daily, with the entrees ranging from burgers to pasta and other items.

Community outreach was a founding principle of the mosque when it opened last August, Sohawardy said. Future plans include providing temporary shelter for recent immigrants. The mosque has been putting the word out with flyers distributed through food banks and other community services. Initially, the food will be brought in, kept warm on site and be served in a small 18-square-metre dining room. But the mosque is equipped with a kitchen and additional dining space, leaving room for expansion.