January 18th, 2010 12:20 EST
The FBI Spying at a Church Near You
He called himself Jabril. Two years ago, a white man who claimed he was an ex-con and convert to Islam started attending a predominantly African-American mosque on a run-down street in Detroit.
He touted his Islamic ways while offering poor members of the mosque cash for odd jobs at an auto shop on the city`s west side. He told tales of sick family members and brought a young boy to the mosque who he said was his son.
Jabril soon became a brother in faith and a confidante of the mosque`s fiery leader, Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was killed in a shootout during an Oct. 28 raid by FBI agents to arrest men suspected of dealing in stolen goods.
Members now believe Jabril was an FBI informant who infiltrated their mosque.
"He built up trust in the community," said Omar Regan, 34, one of Abdullah`s sons.
The case -- one of several in the past year involving informants in Muslim-American communities -- has prompted growing concern among Muslims and civil rights advocates about undercover surveillance in religious institutions.
Federal officials say they don`t send informants into congregations without reason. But last week, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Detroit Democrat, called upon the U.S. Justice Department to review its policies on using informants in houses of worship "
Tensions over the use of informants in Muslim communities came to a head last year after reports that the FBI had used an informant in Orange County, Calif., who had acted as an agent provocateur by trying to get Muslims to wage violent attacks against Western targets. In Michigan, Muslim leaders said in April that agents were pushing some local Muslims to act as spies inside their mosques.
"It`s brought paranoia in the community," said Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "Some are now wary of coming to the mosque."
By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press