WASHINGTON: Three of the five American Muslims marked for surveillance are of Pakistan origin, community sources told Dawn.
Two of the three – Asim Ghafoor, Faisal Gill – are lawyers while the third, Agha Saeed, heads a Muslim think-tank. The US media reported on Wednesday that US intelligence agencies had spied on five Muslim activities inside the United States.
An online magazine, The Intercept, claimed receiving documents from Edward J. Snowden, identifying the five Muslims. Mr Snowden is a former employee of the US National Security Agency who later leaked thousands of security documents to the media in the United States and abroad.
Mr Gill is a former security lawyer for the US Department of Homeland Security who also ran for Virginia’s state legislature as a Republican candidate. He served in the government during the George W. Bush administration.
Mr Ghafoor is a defence lawyer who has handled terrorism-related cases. His clients included the Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi Arabia-based charity organisation with branches around the world. In September 2004, the US Department of Treasury accused it of having “direct links” with Osama bin Laden. The United Nations has now put a global ban on this charity.
Agha Saeed heads the American Muslim Alliance, which supports Muslim political candidates in the United States. He has also been active on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and also demanded a free trial for Aafia Siddiqi.
Nihad Awad, an Arab, is a co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil-rights organisation.
Hooshang Amirahmadi is an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University and founder and president of the American Iranian Council.
The Intercept reported that the documents it received from Mr Snowden list 7,485 email addresses, 202 of which were American. Those were monitored between 2002 and 2008.
The eavesdropping took place under a process authorized by the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The documents did not say what the suspicions or the evidence were against the men that prompted the apparent surveillance.