In a new twist in the ongoing saga of the FBI's disregard for the civil rights of American Muslims, media reports have revealed that the FBI was monitoring and gathering personal information about hundreds of young Muslim men at local gyms.
Man says he ID'd Middle Easterners at gyms for FBI (OC Register)
FBI monitored members of O.C. mosques at gyms, alleged informant says (LA Times)
I know working out sounds very dangerous. After all, why would young Muslim men want to be healthy or, even worse, build muscles if it were not to train for terrorism?
I feel so much safer knowing that my tax money is wisely being spent by the FBI agents who hire convicted felons to help us protect our national security by watching over those suspicious looking dark and hairy young American Muslim men running on treadmills.
We can all sleep better knowing that the FBI's vigilance extends to more than just those shadowy so-called "fitness" centers, which we all know are in reality nothing but a secret meeting place for criminals.
The FBI's (and the informants’) long list of suspicious activities that are being possibly monitored includes, but is not limited to the following. (It is important to note that such activities are not deemed suspicious except when undertaken by a young Muslim male; otehrwise, they become legitimate and normal activities. As one FBI agent "wisely" reminded Monteilh (the informant) when Monteilh raised his concerns that such action amounted to racial profiling, "little white old ladies didn't slam planes into buildings." Wow! What fairness and professionalism.
Ok, ok, here is the list of “suspicious” behavior that will possibly trigger monitoring by the FBI:
- Young Muslim men praying at mosques.
- Young Muslim men growing beards
- Young Muslim men enjoying a fun game of paintball
- Young Muslim men who join the NRA or go hunting
- Young Muslim men who travel
- Young Muslim men who go camping
- Young Muslim men who have "Muslim sounding" names
- Young Muslim men who specifically have the name Osama, Usama, Ousama, or even Obama (after all, the FBI can't be careful enough)
- Young Muslim men who were born in a country that is hard for the informant to pronounce
- Young Muslim men who appear religious (this is something terrorists are known for)
- Young Muslim men who appear non-religious (this is something undercover terrorists are known for)
- Young Muslim men who hold radical political views such as opposing the invasion of Iraq, the Israeli brutal occupation of Palestine, or the use of torture.
- Young Muslim men who support "dangerous" and "subversive" civil rights activists or organizations such as Dr. M.L. King, Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, NAACP, CAIR, ACLU or the National Lawyers Guild
- Young Muslim men who aspire to become pilots, flight attendants, airport workers, FBI agents, government workers, lawyers, judges, or anything that might allow them to "infiltrate" our country and appear to be regular Americans
There is no doubt that many in the FBI take their job of upholding the Constitution and protecting the country seriously. I have personally met and worked with many such FBI officials. Unfortunately, the agency seems to have been hijacked by individuals who are either driven by ideological right-wing politics and a goal of undermining President Obama's commitment to end the Bush years of fear and abuse, are influenced by their anti-Muslim bigotry, or are enjoying a lot of free time and, apparently, great job security.
Sadly, as seemingly amusing and surreal as this might sound, in reality, for the tens of thousands of American Muslims whose lives are regularly disturbed by unwarranted harassment, surveillance, and interrogation, the FBI's practice of religious profiling is a violation, intimidation, and humiliation that no law-abiding American should have to endure.
We live in a country of laws, a country with a great constitution that guarantees liberty and justice for all – yes, including American Muslims. No one is above the law, including the FBI.
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html