A letter signed by more than 80 Muslim organisations has been sent to the U.S. Department of Justice urging it to launch an investigation into an anti-Muslim group that was allegedly spying on Muslim groups in America.
The signatories have urged the Department of Justice to look into the evidence that the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has spent over a decade conspiring to infiltrate and spy upon prominent mosques, Muslim advocacy groups and Muslim leaders, including a member of Congress, for the benefit of a foreign government (Israel).
The letter reads: “This systematic campaign of spying touched nearly every prominent Muslim organization in the United States, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Islamic Networks Group (ING), the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), Muslim American Society (MAS), the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), Muslim Advocates, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), among others, and even an educational institution, Zaytuna College.”
The letter was sent by CAIR to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke, and U.S. Department of Justice on January 30th.
CAIR is conducting its own internal investigation over the alleged spying by the IPT.
The letter further reads: “ITP’s conspiracy to spy upon American mosques and Muslim organizations was not surprising. Civil rights advocates have been targeted by infiltrators and saboteurs for decades. It is long past time for this behaviour to come to an end.”
According to the Georgetown University Bridge Initiative, Steve Emerson, the founder of ITP has a “history of promoting falsified information and conspiracy theories about Islam and Muslims.”
In December last year, the Ohio chapter of CAIR announced the termination of its local director Romin Iqbal, for allegedly sharing confidential information for several years to a “known anti-Muslim hate group that was supplying information to Israel.”
After the termination of Iqbal, a Virginia based Muslim volunteer came forward to admit that he was spying for the IPT for a monthly remuneration from 2008 to 2012.
Tariq Nelson of the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Centre in Falls Church, Virginia, said: “For about four years starting in 2008, I provided information to IPT. Emerson used SAE Productions, one of his for-profit companies, to pay me about $3,000 per month. Looking back on those times, it’s now clear to me that Emerson’s main goal in spying on Muslims was to protect the Israeli government; essentially, to ensure there would never be a ‘Muslim AIPAC’ to challenge U.S. support for Israel.”
CAIR also claimed that the IPT’s one goal was “protecting the Israeli government by undermining Muslims engaged in political and human rights activism.” The group also released a series of emails that were allegedly exchanged between IPT and Israeli officials.
An ITP whistle-blower told CAIR: “I came to realise that IPT’s main concern was not protecting our nation from legitimate threats, but protecting a foreign government – Israel – from legitimate criticism. We were essentially being used as an Israel lobbying organization.”
The letter from the Muslim organisations further reads: “We are concerned that IPT’s alleged actions were meant to impact our community’s ability to religiously assemble and provide ministry; peacefully assemble to politically organize; petition the government; meet with state and federal elected officials; mobilize get out the vote campaigns; and defend the civil and constitutional rights of American Muslims through advocacy and legal representation.”
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, National Deputy Director of CAIR, said: “Did they break the law? That is not for us to determine. That is for the justice department to determine. The point of all of this was to undermine the Muslim community to make sure we would never become politically, civically strong enough to change American foreign policy.”
The letter urged the Department of Justice to determine whether Steve Emerson or IPT broke any federal civil rights statutes or criminal laws. The organisations are asking to specifically determine:
- Whether using paid spies to secretly record the private conversations and activities of American Muslim civil society organizations, houses of worship and leaders, including a Muslim member of Congress, without permission over the phone and in-person violated any federal laws.
- Whether Mr. Emerson transferred funds from the non-profit organisation IPT to the company SAE Productions for the purpose of paying spies to target the American Muslim community on behalf of IPT in violation of any federal laws.
- Whether IPT provided any information about American Muslim leaders, civil society organisations, or houses of worship acquired through spying to the Israeli government or any other foreign entity in violation of any federal laws.
- Whether IPT spied on the American Muslim community in collaboration with, on behalf of, or for the purpose of benefitting other anti-Muslim hate groups, members of Congress, a foreign government or any other entity in violation of federal laws.
IPT rejects being characterised as anti-Muslim. It says it is focused on exposing what it calls “radical Islamist activity on American soil.”
It says Steven Emerson is considered one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks, financing and operations as well national security and intelligence.
The signatories include:
The All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS)
American Islamic Center of Florida (AICF)
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)
Arab American Civic Council
Arizona Muslim Alliance (AMA)
Blossom Valley Muslim Community Center (BVMCC)
Bridges for Yemen
Birmingham Interfaith Human Rights Committee
Centre for Security, Race and Rights
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC)
Dar Alhijrah Islamic Center (DAH)
Free Uyghur Now
ICNA Council for Social Justice
Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC)
The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU)
Islamic Centre of Boca Raton
Islamic Centre of Fullerton
Islamic Centre of Passaic County
Islamic Center of Riverside
Islamic Center of Weston
Islamic Center of South Bay-LA
Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)
Islamic Community Cultural Center, NJ
Islamic Community of Tampa Masjid Al Qassam
Islamic Networks Group (ING)
Islamic Society of Central Jersey
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
Islamic Society of Orange County (ISOC)
Islamic Society West Valley
Islamophobia Studies Center
Iqra Academy of Palos Verdes
Jetpac Resource Center
Masjid Al-Ihsaan, FL
Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York
The Mosque Cares Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed (The Mosque Cares)
Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA)
Muslim American Society (MAS)
Muslims for Democracy and Fairness (MDF)
Muslim League of Voters
Muslim Federation of South Jersey
Muslim Forum of the Pacific Northwest
Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA)
Muslims United for Justice
No Separate Justice
Northern California Islamic Council
Palestinian American Community Center
Pakistani American Congress (PAC)
Sanad Trust Foundation
San Ramon Valley Islamic Center
South Dakota Voices for Peace
South Asian Network
Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research
U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (21 members)