Advocates question whether program is a front for domestic intelligence gathering

MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 23, 2015 — The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today joined with other civil rights organizations in expressing concerns that the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) pilot program, soon be launched in Minneapolis, raises serious civil liberties issues.

CAIR-MN, along with groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, say the CVE program may further stigmatize and marginalize the Muslim community by treating all of its members as suspects and by holding an entire community responsible for the actions of others.

On Friday, January 30, CAIR-MN and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law will hold a community educational event on CVE, “Understanding Minnesota’s ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ Pilot Program: The Dangers of Reliance on a Debunked Theory of Terrorism.”

Speakers will include the Brennan Center’s Michael German, David Schanzer of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein, and others. It will take place at 6 p.m. at Safari Restaurant and Event Center, 3010 4th Ave S, Minneapolis, Minn. Contact: CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein, 612-206-3360, Cell: 612-406-0070;]

“We welcome any tangible effort to educate and empower youth to make the right decisions and promote safety, but it needs to be a community-based, grassroots effort free of intelligence gathering disguised as community outreach,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein.

Hussein said constitutional rights are the cornerstone of our society and must not be suspended for any Americans.

He said CAIR-MN unequivocally condemns terrorism and terrorist organizations: “Any action that harms innocent civilians is reprehensible and deserves condemnation. CAIR-MN condemns terrorism whenever it happens, wherever it happens and whoever commits it.”


U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Andrew Luger is leading the effort to implement the controversial CVE program in Minneapolis. He has not addressed civil liberties concerns about CVE or resolved current law enforcement abuses under his supervision, including FBI informants in mosques, surveillance of the Muslim community, FBI harassment in homes and workplaces, and profiling of Muslims at the airport.

A new article by Glen Greenwald’s the “Intercept” considers whether CVE is really a front for domestic intelligence gathering. It states: “[Civil liberties advocates] believe that blurring the line between engagement and intelligence gathering could end up with the monitoring of innocent individuals. If past programs in this area are any guide, those concerns are well founded.”

The article also states: “Documents obtained by attorneys at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, and shared with the ‘Intercept,’ show that previous community outreach efforts in Minnesota–launched in 2009 in response to the threat of young Americans joining the al-Qaeda-linked militia al-Shabab, in Somalia—were, in fact, conceived to gather intelligence.”

SEE: Spies Among Us: How Community Outreach Programs to Muslims Blur Lines between Outreach and Intelligence
Spies Among us


White House Announces Countering Violent Extremism Program: Is It Pretext for Spying on Muslims?

Terrorist or . . .Teenager? Justice Department’s Countering Violent Extremism Program Ripe for Abuse
Slate: Terrorist . . . or Teenager?

L.A. groups criticize White House Program on Homegrown Extremism
LATimes: L.A.Groups Criticize White House program

Civil rights advocates cite concerns with the FBI’s active involvement in the Minneapolis CVE. The FBI has previously used outreach as a way to gain access and intelligence in the Muslim community.

SEE: CAIR-MN Asks FBI to Stop Recruitment of Informants in Mosques

FOIA Documents Show FBI Illegally Collecting Intelligence Under Guise of “Community Outreach”
ACLU — reedom of Information Act Documents

FBI FOIA Docs Show Use of “Mosque Outreach” for Illegal Intel Gathering
ACLU Blog of Rights

Is the FBI’s Community Outreach Program a Trojan Horse?

The ACLU also raised civil rights concerns about the new CVE pilot program. In a coalition letter signed by 27 national civil rights groups, the ACLU discussed the following concerns:

• Serious Impact on Religious Exercise and Political Expression

• Improper Characterization of American Muslims as a Suspect Community

• CVE’s Relationship to Abusive Counterterrorism Practices

• CVE Funding of Private Organizations and Individuals

SEE: Coalition Letter to Obama Administration on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Program

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Council on American-Islamic Relations: