The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) violated the First Amendment rights of hundreds of Muslim Americans by using a former convict to infiltrate several California mosques, says a lawsuit filed on Feb. 22, 2011. The lawsuit alleges Muslim Americans were targeted by the FBI solely for their religious beliefs, and this conduct adversely affected their community and religious donations. Filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California and Council on American-Islamic Relations Los Angeles office on behalf of three plaintiffs, the suit seeks unspecified damages and the destruction or return of information the FBI collected.
According to the lawsuit, between 2006-2007 the FBI hired and paid Craig Monteilh to spy on members of the Islamic Center of Irvine and other Southern California mosques. He was told by FBI agents “that Islam was a threat to America's national security,” and to collect e-mail address, phone numbers, and other pertinent information about mosque members. Using the alias Farouk al-Aziz, he regularly attended services and events to collect the information and record conversations he had with mosque members in their homes and other places.