CAIR-MN Welcomes FBI Probe of Alleged Abuses by Agents
Agents reportedly used intimidation tactics on Somali Muslim
(MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 1/30/13) -- The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today welcomed an FBI investigation into alleged intimidation tactics used on a Somali Muslim by two agents.
Last week, CAIR-MN sent a letter to Special Agent in Charge J. Chris Warrener about allegations of improper behavior by the two agents and asked that an investigation be launched into the matter.
The complainant told CAIR-MN that two FBI agents approached him at his home and sought to pressure him to work for the agency reportedly as an informant. The man said he asserted his right to an attorney three times, but the agents continued to intimidate and coerce him.
According to the complainant, the agents threatened to withhold the man's asylum application, defame him in the Muslim community so others would fear speaking to him and influence his current employment by visiting his job site if he did not agree to work with their office.
Two days after the FBI visit, the man was followed by an SUV in which the driver took photographs of him while he was working for a transportation company. A few weeks after his interaction with the FBI, the alleged victim was fired from his job.
Last week, a local FBI official contacted CAIR-MN to acknowledge receipt of the letter and to state that the agency is looking into the matter.
The FBI is "prohibited from using threats or coercion" to blackmail individuals. Minnesota law also prohibits such conduct.
SEE: The Informants (Mother Jones)
"These tactics of intimidation are not only unethical and detrimental to building trust in the Muslim and Somali community, they are potentially unlawful," said CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya. "We welcome the FBI's decision to investigate the agents' actions."
Saroya said her office has seen a recent increase in calls from individuals approached to become FBI informants.
Under Minnesota Statute § 609.27 Subds. 1(3)&(4), it is unlawful to threaten to injure a person's profession or reputation in an effort to elicit action against a person's will.Minnesota Statute § 609.43 (1) & (3), deems it unlawful for a public officer or employee to intentionally refuse to perform a known mandatory duty or use color or official authority to injure another.
During a 2009 FBI investigation into Somali men who went abroad to join a terrorist organization, community members reported similar coercive tactics to CAIR-MN.
Community members reported being stopped at random on the streets and in shopping malls; Somali businesses were raided; students were approached by federal agents in campus libraries; community leaders were denied boarding passes without due process; agents talked their way into homes without warrants; non-English-speaking Somalis were interviewed without translators; agents in unmarked cars staked out Somali mosques, and; informants were allegedly sent inside mosques.
SEE: Rights Groups Say Somalis Being Stopped, Questioned (MPR)