British government anti-terrorism strategy “spies” on innocent Muslims

The government program aimed at preventing Muslims from being lured into violent extremism is being used to gather intelligence about innocent people who are not suspected of involvement in terrorism. The information the authorities are trying to find out includes political and religious views, information on mental health, sexual activity and associates, and other sensitive information. Other documents reveal that the intelligence and information can be stored until the people concerned reach the age of 100. This has been published in a report of the Institute for Race Relations (IRR) by Arun Kundnani, entitled “Spooked: How not to prevent violent extremism”.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, branded it the biggest spying program in Britain in modern times and an affront to civil liberties. The intelligence is being gathered as part of the strategy Preventing Violent Extremism — ‘Prevent’ for short. It was launched three years ago to stop people being lured to al-Qaeda ideology and committing acts of terrorism.

The government and police have repeatedly denied that the £140m program is a cover for spying on Muslims in Britain. But sources directly involved in running Prevent programs say it involves gathering intelligence about the thoughts and beliefs of Muslims who are not involved in criminal activity.

Spooked: How Not to Prevent Violent Extremism

This report discusses Britain’s “Prevent” program, a government anti-terror initiative that allegedly spies on innocent Muslims. In violation of civil liberties, the program allegedly collects data on thoughts, political views, information on mental health, sexual activity and associates, and other sensitive information. All information can be stored until Muslims concerned reach age 100. It has been dubbed Britain’s largest spying program in modern times.

Fear Emerges in Fate of French Hostages in Somalia

Hope that talks with Islamist rebels in Somalia might lead to the rapid release of two French agents has receded amid conflicting reports over the status of negotiations. The pair, French defence officials on a mission to support Somalia’s transition government, were seized from a Mogadishu hotel room and are believed to be in the hands of the rebel militia. A senior member of the Shebab proclaimed that the French pair would be charged with spying and tried under Islamic law in a Sharia court. Some locals have suggested the hostage-taking is in retaliation to a recent trial against Somali piracy in Paris.

Michigan Muslim group says FBI is asking people to spy

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan said that it is asking US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate complaints that the FBI is asking followers to spy on Islamic leaders and worshippers. The Michigan Muslim organization sent a letter to Holder after mosques and other groups reported that members of the community have been approached to monitor people coming to mosques, and what kinds of donations they make.

The FBI’s Detroit office has denied the allegations, and special agent Andrew Arena, in charge of the local office, said that no allegations of wrong had been brought to his attention. However, based on complaints by worshippers, the agency appears to be on a “fishing expedition,” said the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. “If there was a specific imam who they felt was telling people to support Osama bin Laden, that’s a different story — we wouldn’t have a problem with that. Community members would be the first people to report to federal law enforcement if such things were being said,” said Dawud Walid.

Some Muslims believe FBI may be spying in mosques

Muslim-American groups are accusing the FBI of planting moles in mosques across the U.S.

Suspicions amongst Muslims have risen greatly since February, when Craig Monteilh publicly stated the FBI had used him to infiltrate mosques and spy on Muslims in Orange County, California. The FBI has not responded to Monteilh’s story, which leads many Muslims to believe it is true and that he may not be the FBI’s only spy.

Monteilh stated he was offered to attend a terrorist training camp in Yemen or Afghanistan by Ahmadullah Niazi of Irvine. Niazi was charged with misusing a passport, perjury, and other federal crimes last month, and has been accused of being related to a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden.

The American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) has a history of working proactively with the FBI in reducing the risks of radicalism, and are thus concerned at the FBI’s lack of explanation to them and other Muslim leaders on whether this actually happened and if so, why.

While law enforcement agents at the FBI won’t comment specifically on the California case, Robert Heibel, director of the Institute for Intelligence Studies at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa. says “if they had information about someone at a mosque or church being involved with terrorism, they would have an obligation to investigate. Should the FBI give attention to potentially dangerous religious extremists?” Heibel said. “In a case like that, the agents aren’t targeting a religion. They’re targeting a potential lawbreaker.”

German politicians split on stiffer anti-terrorism laws

In the wake of an unsuccessful terrorist plot against American targets in Germany, German officials are considering what was once unthinkable: spying on personal computers and other harsh measures that buck up against the German constitution. Proposals to allow security forces to spy on personal computers and to make attendance at an Islamist training camp punishable under German law had a divided response at a conference of state interior ministers in Berlin Sept. 7. The interior ministers, who are responsible for internal security and policing, were meeting after police on Sept. 4 arrested three suspects linked to a bomb plot aimed at causing mass carnage among US citizens living in Germany. Berlin Interior Senator Ehrhart Koerting said opinion was divided among the ministers from the 16 states, although there was unity that people who had undergone paramilitary training at terrorist camps “should be taken out of circulation.”

Campus extremism request rejected

By Hannah Goff {Lecturers have voted unanimously to oppose government plans urging them to fight against extremism on campuses.} They had been asked to monitor and report suspicious behaviour amongst Muslim students. But at the University and Colleges Union annual conference in Bournemouth, delegates rejected the demands, saying they amounted to spying on students. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said student trust would be undermined by fears of a “quasi-secret service”. In November, the government warned of what it described as the serious threat posed by radical Muslims and issued guidance to colleges and universities calling on them to monitor student activity.