US media and global media are reporting that the email addresses of two leaders in the US Muslim Brotherhood appeared among on a list 202 individual designated for surveillance targeting by the US National Security Agency (NSA). According to a Huffington Post report:
The National Security Agency spied on five American citizens despite a lack of any finding that they posed a threat to national security, The Intercept, an investigative outlet co-founded by Greenwald, is reporting Wednesday.
All five are moderate American citizens who appear to have been targeted for surveillance between 2002 and 2008 because of their political activity. The NSA told The Intercept that the surveillance was not ‘based solely’ on speech.
‘No U.S. person can be the subject of FISA surveillance based solely on First Amendment activities, such as staging public rallies, organizing campaigns, writing critical essays, or expressing personal beliefs,’ the statement read.
The revelation of the names of those spied on has been hotly anticipated since Greenwald teased it in May. The names were included in documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Greenwald obtained the consent of all five before publishing their names, he told HuffPost. Among those is Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR, the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country, is widely regarded as moderate.
Read the rest here.
An Al-Jazeera report identifies Agha Saeed as the second individual on the list and reports that the five Muslim-Americans on the list “speculated that their ethnic backgrounds had something to do with the NSA spying on them.”
The GMBDW of course takes issue with the Huffington Post characterization of Nihad Awad as “widely regarded as moderate.” In fact, Mr. Awad was present during an infamous 1993 meeting held in Philadelphia by senior leaders of Hamas, the Holy Land Foundation, and the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP). The Holy Land Foundation was convicted on charges of providing financial support for Hamas and the IAP is generally considered to have represented the Hamas infrastructure in the U.S. A widely reported FBI memo based on wiretaps of the meeting indicated that its purpose was “to develop a strategy to defeat the Israeli/Palestinian peace accord, and to continue and improve their [HAMAS] fund-raising and political activities in the United States.” Mr. Nihad was an employee of the IAP at the time. The next summer, he was videotaped stating ‘I am in support of the HAMAS movement’ during a seminar at Miami’s Barry University. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is known to have had a relationship with both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR and its leaders have had a long history of defending individuals accused of terrorism by the US. government, often labeling such prosecutions a “war on Islam”, and have also been associated with Islamic fundamentalism and antisemitism. The GMBDW reported just last week that Mr. Awad had posted back-to-back Tweets, one in Arabic language blaming the “Israeli Lobby” for the prosecution of convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian and one in English omitting the phrase.
In 2004, Dr. Agha Saeed was the Coordinator of the American Muslim Task Force (AMT) , founded in February 2004 by a coalition of U.S. Muslim Brotherhood groups to “encourage community-based Muslim political participation and to defend against the erosion of civil liberties in a post-9/11 social environment.” Dr. Saeed was also at that time the Chairman of the American Muslim Alliance (AMA) which in turn was part of the American Muslim Political Coordination Council, both organizations representing earlier US Brotherhood electoral coalitions. The AMT today is comprised of the most important U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations including CAIR, the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Circle Of North America (ICNA), the Islamic Society Of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and the Muslim Student Association (MSA). According to his bio, Dr. Saeed is still the head of both the AMT as well as the AMA which, in turn, is a member of the AMT.
While the GMBDW takes no position on any NSA surveillance per se, it would seem clear that Mr. Awad and Dr. Saeed at least were likely not on the list in question because of their “ethnic backgrounds.”