- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Arab-American and Muslim leaders met yesterday with FBI officials to discuss concerns that Muslim religious places, homes and other buildings were monitored for abnormal radiation levels without search warrants or court orders.

The meeting with FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole, coordinated by the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), was held in the wake of press reports that the monitoring began after the September 11, 2001, attacks and lasted through 2003. The FBI has denied that it singled out private Muslim sites for the radioactivity monitoring.

Two Muslim organizations have since filed Freedom of Information Act requests to learn which sites were monitored.

“Today’s meeting, while not resolving all underlying issues of concern, offered an opportunity to improve lines of communication and to increase mutual cooperation on issues related to national security and the prevention of hate crimes,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who participated in the meeting.

Mr. Awad said any security measures that create the perception that the Muslim community in the U.S. is targeted can create difficulties between Muslims and law-enforcement authorities, adding that “such perceptions can also lead to increased Islamophobia and even anti-Muslim hate crimes.”

Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden has threatened renewed attacks on U.S. targets, and al Qaeda suspect Jose Padilla was arrested in May 2002 by the FBI on suspicion of a scheme to detonate a radiological ‘dirty bomb’ in this country.

The FBI has acknowledged that it tested for nuclear radiation at more than 100 Muslim sites in the Washington area, but has denied engaging in racial profiling against Muslims. The bureau also said it did not violate the law, breach constitutional guarantees or trespass on private property. It said non-Muslim sites also were monitored for excess radiation.

In its data request, CAIR asked for all government records concerning the authority of President Bush to authorize surveillance without obtaining a court order and “comprehensive lists and addresses” of the Muslim sites — including mosques, organizations, businesses, warehouses and homes — that were monitored.

The monitoring activity is thought to have also taken place in Chicago, Detroit, New York, Las Vegas and Seattle.

Mr. Pistole had invited the Muslim organizations to meet with him to address reports of widespread surveillance and radiation monitoring. There were no reports that high levels of radiation were found during the monitoring, which first was reported last month by U.S. News & World Report.

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