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US: Second 'spy' confessed to working with anti-Muslim group, rights group says

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says the unnamed person was paid $3,000 a month to spy on prominent Muslim leaders
While Muslims have witnessed their communities being surveilled over the past two decades, the news still came as a shock.
While Muslims have witnessed their communities being surveilled over the past two decades, the news still came as a shock (AFP/File photo)
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Washington

A second individual has confessed to spying in the US on behalf of an anti-Muslim group, whose alleged goal was to "protect the Israeli government" by undermining Muslim activists, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair).

The person, whose identity has yet to be revealed, has created further links demonstrating a pro-Israel campaign to spy on Muslim communities and organisations throughout the United States, Cair said on Tuesday. 

The advocacy and civil rights group said the founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), Steven Emerson, paid the "spy" $3,000 a month, a total of more than $100,000 over more than four years, in order to spy on a mosque in the US and "record prominent Muslim leaders".

"One of Emerson's goals, we were told, was protecting the Israeli government by undermining Muslims engaged in political and human rights activism," Cair said.

During a news conference last week, the Muslim civil rights group revealed a series of emails between Israeli officials and the IPT. In one, an official asked the IPT whether it had information related to Students for Justice in Palestine, a student advocacy group with chapters in universities across the country.

The Israeli embassy in Washington did not respond to Middle East Eye's request for comment.

The rights group said that the individual came forward, confessed to his actions, and agreed to cooperate with mosque leaders. Cair added that it will provide further information, and publicly identify the person after it obtains further information.

The IPT did not respond to MEE's request for comment, but has said previously that it "has never and will never monitor the wider American Muslim community". However, it added that it will not hesitate to report on groups it claims are conducting "radical Islamist activity".

'We've identified three moles'

The news comes after last week's revelation by Cair that the executive director of one of its state chapters in Ohio, Romin Iqbal, had been for years secretly working with the IPT to provide intelligence, including audio recordings, and leak confidential information to the group.

The announcement came out of a third-party investigation conducted by a forensic expert retained by Cair-National.

While Muslims have witnessed the numerous ways in which their communities have been targeted and surveilled by the US government over the past two decades, the news still came as a shock for many Muslim communities throughout the country.

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Edward Ahmed Mitchell, deputy director of Cair-National, told reporters last week that based on the investigation, at least a dozen organisations have been targeted by this espionage campaign.

"We can't know everything that IPT was doing, but based on the evidence that we have, I would say that easily over a dozen Muslim organisations or mosques were targeted," Mitchell said.

"We believe we've identified three moles."

The IPT, founded by Steven Emerson, describes itself as a research group reporting on "radical Islamic terrorist groups". It has, however, been deemed an anti-Muslim group by the Islamophobia Network, a project of the Center for American Progress that tracks anti-Muslim groups and donors.

According to the network, the IPT uses "unsubstantiated threats that portray Muslims as dangerous to accrue funding" and that Emerson has a reputation "for fabricating evidence to substantiate his ravings about Muslim extremism".

According to Georgetown University's Bridge Initiative, Emerson himself has had a "history of promoting falsified information and conspiracy theories about Islam and Muslims".

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.