'Mohammed Raghead' – the name the FBI were giving to Muslim-American 'Joe Bloggs'

Newly-published documents leaked by Edward Snowden provide the first proof of individual citizens being monitored by US spy agency

The US government spied on thousands of law-abiding Muslim-Americans including top US lawyers and academics according to newly-published documents provided by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

The monitoring was authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a law intended to target individuals involved in international terrorism, espionage or sabotage.

The leaked documents published by The Intercept include a list of 7,485 email addresses monitored between 2002 and 2008. Five of the emails identified by journalists have been described as leading “highly public, outwardly exemplary lives”.

A document dating from 2006 from the same cache of files instructed intelligence agency staff how to properly record the identity of those under surveillance and used the fake name of “Mohammed Raghead” as an example.

Five of those identified as targets of surveillance include Faisal Gill, a lawyer and one-time Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates who served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush.

Speaking to The Intercept, Gill said he could not work out why his email accounts were monitored: “I’ve done everything in my life to be patriotic. I served in the Navy, served in the government, was active in my community—I’ve done everything that a good citizen, in my opinion, should do.”

Other American citizens monitored included Asim Ghafoor, an attourney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases; Agha Saeed, a civil rights activist and political science professor; Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country; and Hooshang Amirahmadi, a professor of international relations.

The monitoring was authorized by the FBI and although no reason for the selection of these individuals is given in the leaked documents, Asim Ghafoor believes he was chosen because of his background and religion.

“I believe that they tapped me because my name is Asim Abdur Rahman Ghafoor, my parents are from India, I travelled to Saudi Arabia as a young man, and I do the pilgrimage,” Ghafoor told The Intercept. “Yes, absolutely I believe that had something to do with it.”

The documents mark the first time that US citizens have been provided with proof of being individually targeted by intelligence agencies and could allow those involved to sue the US government for unlawful surveillance.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has 30 years of ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Account Manager

    £27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing cloud based I...

    Recruitment Genius: Front End Web Developer - Magento

    £28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

    SThree: IT Recruitment Consultant

    £22500 - £30000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking for experie...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat