As Salaamu Alaikum,
Since the new year, our legal team here at CAIR-SFBA, has been kept busy by a steady line of complaints by community members about persistent and problematic harassment by law enforcement agencies particularly the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Trump administration has allowed law enforcement agencies to surveil and harass Muslim Americans especially those with ties to countries blacklisted in the Muslim Ban and ordinary, practicing citizens who may happen to be in the same mosques and community centers as alleged criminal suspects.
Locally, Muslims stretching from the South Bay to Vallejo were the targets of similar yet unrelated and unwarranted fishing expeditions from the FBI that took the form of visits to homes, workplaces, phone calls and even attempts to gather information over seemingly innocent coffee. CAIR-SFBA swiftly intervened to ensure that private and confidential information by and on community members was not documented. Seemingly, FBI agents have been targeting various members of our communities based simply on them sharing similar ethnic and spiritual backgrounds as well as having attended a mosque or community event as alleged terrorism suspects who happen to be Muslim. Our approach has been to proactively empower community members to assert and be aware of their rights in the face of such law enforcement harassment regardless of national origin and immigration status through our ‘Know Your Rights’ workshops. If you would like to have us come to your mosque or community space and conduct such a workshop, please fill out a request form online.
CAIR-SFBA Executive Director, Zahra Billoo, went on record in the East Bay Express to speak out against the tactics used by the FBI to spy on and entrap vulnerable members of the Muslim community who were struggling with mental health issues, family problems or simply expressed political views critical of the administration. These individuals are ensnared by FBI informants and undercover agents who not only provide financial support but also detail the exact plans to be executed and spread fear in the wider community. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) has taken the lead in monitoring Muslim spaces and in using local law enforcement officers in cities such as in Oakland, Fremont and Hayward to do its secretive work.
In order to protect yourself, a loved one and members of the community, CAIR-SFBA advises you to never allow law enforcement agents inside your residence or workplace except if they present a search warrant signed by a judge. When FBI agents approach you in person or over the phone and once they identify themselves as law enforcement, be polite but insist firmly that you would like to “assert your right to remain silent and that my attorney will contact you”. To allow us to represent you, be sure to take the agent’s contact information before reaching out to us through our incident report form. Never get into a verbal or physical altercation with law enforcement and continue to assert your constitutional rights.
Ammad Rafiqi, Esq.
Civil Rights & Legal Services Coordinator