HomeSouth Asian AmericanReport: 98% of those on FBI Watchlist are Muslim

Report: 98% of those on FBI Watchlist are Muslim

A report released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found an estimated 1.47 million of the entries from the FBI Secret Watchlist, or 98%, are Muslim.

After the 9/11 attacks, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) consolidated all
suspected terrorists into “one federal terrorism watchlist”.

The information available on the watchlist includes the suspect’s name, date of birth, and fingerprint. Al Jazeera reports some of the suspects are then put on the “no-fly list,” which prohibits air travel. Others are put on the “selectee” list, which designates extra scrutiny for travelers.

The FBI has long kept the names in the database a secret, but in 2019, CAIR obtained that information.

The FBI states that no one can be nominated to the watchlist based on race,
ethnicity, religion, “guess or hunches,” and belief protected by the First Amendment. CAIR, however, found that the top 50 most frequently occurring names on the watchlist are all Muslim names.

In fact, over 350,000 entries included a transliteration of the names
‘Mohamed,’ ‘Ali,’ or ‘Mahmoud.’ CAIR’s report ultimately concluded what the Muslim
community has long felt–that the FBI has disproportionately categorized them as

From the cover of CAIR's
 "A Call to stop the FBI's secret watchlist" report
CAIR Graphic

The mayor of a New Jersey town, Mayor Mohamed Khairullah, was invited to the White House in May of 2023 for the Eid-al-Fitr celebration–only to be turned away at the last minute.

Khairullah stated that he got a call from the White House about an hour before
the event was supposed to start, to which stated that he “had not been cleared for entry by the Secret Service,” NBC New York reported.

The Syrian-born mayor of Prospect Park was reportedly shocked
and believes that he, too, is on the FBI watchlist.

According to Gadeir Abbas, an attorney working with CAIR, the FBI only removed
people from “‘their secret list when they fear that a court might impose restraint on their lawlessness.’”

Abbas works with Muslim people that are filing lawsuits against the
federal government; one of his clients is Saadiq Long, who after nine years of
discrimination while traveling, found that his name was on the “no-fly list” in 2015.

Abbas and other of Long’s attorneys argued that “‘the Government is willing to place and maintain people on these lists even when they pose no national security threat.’” After years of wrongful suspicion and discrimination, other Muslims are also filing lawsuits against the US government, reported the Washington Post.

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