An informant working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation was directed to infiltrate a mosque and violated the constitutional rights of the worshiping Muslims conducting surreptitious "indiscriminate surveillance" because of their religion, according to a joint-lawsuit filed on Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, named the FBI and a number of its agents and supervisors, a source told the Law Enforcement Examiner.
The federal lawsuit alleges that FBI informant Craig Monteilh was ordered by his supervisors to target Muslims for surveillance, violating their First Amendment right to freedom of religion. The lawsuit seeks class-action status, unspecified damages and a court order instructing the FBI to destroy or return the information Monteilh collected.
However, several law enforcement officers disagree with the plaintiffs’ allegationa claiming the surveillance did nothing to impede the Muslims’ religious practices.
"Usually these cases are filed regarding the Fourth Amendment and unreasonable search and seizure. In this case the plaintiff is claiming there was a denial of a First Amendment right. It will be interesting to see how federal judges adjudicate this case," said former police detective and military intelligence officer Monteilh admittedly visited a mosque in Orange County, CA, and helped build a criminal case against an Afghan-born man who was later arrested on terrorism charges.
The lawsuit claims that Monteilh’s contacts, FBI special agents Kevin Armstrong and Paul Allen, directed him in the collection of e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and other information about the Muslims and "explicitly told Monteilh that Islam was a threat to America’s national security," according to the ACLU’s legal brief.
An FBI public information officer, Laura Eimiller, said when contacted that she not able to comment on the allegations contained in the lawsuit, but she stated that FBI agents do not target organizations or individuals based on religion.
The agency "does not investigate houses of worship or religious groups, but people who are alleged to be involved in criminal activity, regardless of their affiliations," she told reporters who contacted her office.
"A cold, hard fact is that several terrorist plots have been hatched in Mosques throughout the world. In fact, the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 emanated from a Mosque in Jersey City," said political strategist and attorney Mike Baker.
"In this case, the FBI agents were not monitoring the religious service or the religious practices of worshipers. They were monitoring the activities of a suspect on their radar," added Baker.
Jim Kouri, CPP, formerly Fifth Vice-President, is currently a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a columnist for Examiner.com and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.
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