LOS ANGELES: FBI director Robert Mueller on Monday defended the agency’s use of informants within US mosques, despite complaints from Muslim organizations that worshippers and clerics are being targeted instead of possible terrorists.
Mueller’s comments came just days after a Michigan Muslim organization asked the Justice Department to investigate complaints that the FBI is asking the faithful to spy on Islamic leaders and worshippers. Similar alarm followed the disclosure earlier this year that the FBI planted a spy in Southern California mosques. “We don’t investigate places, we investigate individuals,” Mueller said.
“To the extent that there may be evidence or other information of criminal wrongdoings, then we will … undertake those investigations,” Mueller added. “We will continue to do it.”
He called relations with US Muslims “very good,” but acknowledged disagreements without providing specifics.
The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan sent a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder after mosques and other groups reported members of the community have been asked to monitor people coming to mosques and donations they make. In the California case, information about the informant who spied on the Islamic Center of Irvine came out at a February detention hearing for a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard.