US Sued Over Terrorist List

Rights advocates say the list is used for harassment
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2023 5:25 PM CDT
US Sued Over Terrorist List
Mohamed Khairullah, the mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, gives an interview in 2004.   (AP Photo/Mike Derer, File)

The US keeps a terrorist watchlist to keep an eye on "people reasonably suspected to be involved in terrorism (or related activities)," as part of its effort to keep Americans safe, the FBI says. No one is supposed to be put on the list because of their race, ethnicity, or religion. But the Council on American Islamic Relations, a Muslim rights organization, said it found that about 98% of the 1.5 million people on the list happen to be Muslim Americans. That's resulted in a new lawsuit filed by the group against the federal government, the Guardian reports.

The Terrorist Screening Dataset was created after the 9/11 attacks, during a period of routine surveillance of Muslim Americans. Civil rights groups call the list Islamophobic and say it's used to facilitate "harassment and humiliation" and want it dropped. The organization points out that US law enforcement agencies have repeatedly warned that far-right domestic terrorists are a bigger threat than Islamist extremism. "The time has come for the Biden administration to end the use of the watchlist," said CAIR's Dawud Walid.

One Muslim American victimized by the list is Mohamed Khairullah, the New Jersey mayor who was turned away from the White House in May despite being invited to an event there. The Secret Service would not specify why he was stopped from attending. The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court in Boston on his behalf and others,' per the AP. "If I don't do something now, my children and their children will probably be second-class citizens based on their ethnic and religious background," Khairullah said at a press conference. (Read more terrorist watch list stories.)

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