Indian American civil rights attorney Asim Ghafoor believes the U.S. government spied on its own citizens based on ethnicity and religion, reports India West.
A report released last week by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden reveals at least five prominent Muslim Americans, including Ghafoor, had been under surveillance by the NSA and FBI.
Snowden’s full report shows 7,485 e-mail addresses were monitored by the NSA between 2002 and 2008. At least 200 Americans were under surveillance, although the NSA maintains it does not monitor Americans.
“The U.S. holds our civil and criminal justice up to the world as a shining example. I’m shocked that America is not holding itself up to a higher standard,” Ghafoor said.
Ghafoor’s law partner Faisal Gill, another Muslim American targeted by the NSA, held a top-security post in the Department of Homeland Security during the Bush administration and even won the Republican nomination for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2007, but lost the election amid allegations from his own party that he was connected to extremist Muslim groups.
“I’ve done everything in my opinion to be patriotic, to serve my community,” said the Pakistani-born lawyer who was raised in northern Virginia. “This shows the hysteria that people feel every Muslim harbors such hate.”
Ghafoor and Gill were monitored between 2005 and 2008 when they were representing the Sudanese government against a lawsuit filed by survivors of the 9/11 tragedy against the government of Sudan for its alleged involvement in the terrorist attacks.
Other prominent Muslim Americans named in Snowden’s report include Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Agha Saeed, founder and chairman of the American Muslim Alliance; and Hooshang Amirahmadi, professor of international relations at Rutgers University.
You can read more about the NSA’s ethnic profiling practices and efforts to curb government surveillance at India West.