Tags: New | FBI | Rules | Open | Mosques | Scrutiny

New FBI Rules Open Mosques To Scrutiny

Thursday, 30 May 2002 12:00 AM

Although the guidelines do not specifically address religious institutions, general language allows agents to enter public places and Internet sites to simply observe – with no predicate probable cause of an ongoing criminal enterprise.

Specifically regarding Web surveillance, the new rules allow agents to "identify sites and forums in which bomb-making instructions, preparations for cyberterrorism, child pornography, and stolen credit card information are openly traded and disseminated."

Previously, according to reports, agents had to get permission to even "surf” the net for investigative clues and background information.

Under the new rules agents will be allowed to do general research on subjects such as biological agents.

Designed to combat terrorist organizations using mosques as recruiting stations, the FBI’s newly loosened regulations compliment the new "proactive” role of the FBI touted by Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The new aggressive mode of the Bureau would target militant clerics such as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, in prison for his role in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. The sheik pulled together a radical following at mosques in Brooklyn and Jersey City.

"The concern is when we're confronted with people like [Zacarias] Moussaoui, or even some of the hijackers, who are known to spend substantial periods of time in mosques or other similar situations, it is very difficult to find out what they're up to," a senior law enforcement official told the Washington Post.

Ashcroft has vowed that the days of the FBI being a reactive body are over. No longer will federal investigators wait for evidence of crimes "to come to the FBI from external sources," he announced yesterday.

The Attorney General added his voice to FBI Director Robert Mueller’s -- further defining a new aggressive Bureau that gives the workhorse field offices wider latitude in initiating investigations and search warrants without first consulting with FBI headquarters.

However, the streamlining has provoked some criticism from those who fear a return to the type of aggressive FBI that relentlessly pursued Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"The FBI is now telling the American people, 'You no longer have to do anything unlawful in order to get that knock on the door,' " Laura Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington office, told the Washington Post. "You can be doing a perfectly legal activity like worshiping or talking in a chat room, they can spy on you anyway."

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Although the guidelines do not specifically address religious institutions, general language allows agents to enter public places and Internet sites to simply observe - with no predicate probable cause of an ongoing criminal enterprise. Specifically regarding Web...
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2002-00-30
Thursday, 30 May 2002 12:00 AM
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