Attack on mosque shows FBI's relation with Muslims worsens

The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Bay Area ignored repeated attacks on mosques and Islamic centers.

Attack on mosque shows FBI's relation with Muslims worsens

World Bulletin/News Desk

Accusing its agents of viewing Muslims as possible terrorists, a fragile relationship between Muslims and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Bay Area was getting worse after the agents ignored repeated attacks on mosques and Islamic centers.

All of the episodes at the center “were consistent in targeting us,” and an investigation into the shooting “would have been helpful,” Abdul Rahman, the chairman of board of trustees of the Islamic Center of East Bay in Antioch, California, was cited by the New York Times on Friday, March 1.

“Now we’ll never know if these involved the same people.”

Abdul Rahman was referring to repeated attacks on the Islamic Center of East Bay in Antioch, California.

In 2005, someone left messages including “racial slurs” on the center’s answering machine, the agents wrote.

In 2006, a single shot had damaged a window; a few months later, the same window was destroyed with a brick.

In 2007, Muhammad Chaudhry found seven bullet holes in one of the building’s front windows.

Despite repeated attacks, FBI discontinued investigation “since there is no current evidence to show this incident as being a hate crime,” a report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request said.

In the case of California mosque, Julianne Sohn, a bureau spokeswoman, said the investigation was discontinued because some of the agents that worked in the San Francisco office in 2007 have since.

She added that some cases lack dependable evidence, and agents may determine that others do not include hate-crime components as defined by federal law.

Ignoring the escalating violence targeting the Islamic center, the FBI was blamed for failing to restart the investigation, missing a good opportunity to build trust with Bay Area Muslims.

“Here was an opportunity to do something to protect the community,” Michael German, a former FBI agent and now a senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Washington, said.

“There is concern in the community that the FBI is viewing them through only one lens, as potential suspects.”

Making it worse, Abdul Rahman said that agents began contacting him regularly after the arson there, sometimes taking him to lunch.

Later on, he became uncomfortable when questions about the fire seemed to give way to questions about the center’s members.

“After you’ve been victimized, that is not something you want to hear,” Rahman said, adding that he cautioned the agents that their work in general would not benefit from such an approach

“You’re not going to build a relationship this way.”

In 2009, Muslim groups threatened to suspend all contacts with the FBI over sending informants into mosques.

Last Mod: 02 Mart 2013, 13:55
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