Fri, Feb 22, 2019 - Page 7 News List

US Muslim group seeks probe on FBI terror watchlist

AP, FALLS CHURCH, Virginia

A US Muslim civil rights group on Wednesday called for a US Congress investigation after its lawsuit revealed that the US government has shared access to parts of its terrorist watchlist with more than 1,400 private entities, including hospitals and universities.

The Council on American-

Islamic Relations said that the Congress should look into why the FBI has given such wide access to the list, which it said is riddled with errors.

Broad dissemination of the names makes life more difficult for those who are wrongly included, it said.

Many on the list are believed to be Muslim.

“This is a wholesale profiling of a religious minority community,” council national executive director Nihad Awad said. “To share private information of citizens and non-citizens with corporations is illegal and outrageous.”

The FBI in a statement on Wednesday night said that private groups only receive a subset of the list, called the Known or Suspected Terrorist List (KST).

It is unclear how significantly that narrows the list from the watchlist, which is formally known as the Terrorist Screening Center Database and includes hundreds of thousands of names.

Gadeir Abbas, a council lawyer, said that there is no evidence that the KST is in any meaningful way less broad than the overall watchlist, adding that the articulated

standard for inclusion on the watchlist is a reasonable suspicion of being a known or suspected terrorist.

“The FBI is using the complexity of the list to portray it as less nefarious than it is,” Abbas said.

The FBI statement said that any private agency accessing the list “must comply with agreements to ensure the security and confidentiality of the information.”

“A requestor can only ask for information about a specific individual and cannot access all the data available in the KST File,” it said.

Any private entity that comes into a contact with a match from the list is instructed to contact the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center for further instructions, the FBI added.

The council in 2016 filed a lawsuit challenging the list’s constitutionality and saying that those wrongly placed on it routinely face difficulties in travel, financial transactions and their dealings with law enforcement.

In response, a federal official recently acknowledged in a court filing that more than 1,400 private entities received access to the list.

For years, the government had insisted that it did not generally share the list with private organizations.

A hearing is scheduled in a US federal court for today on the council’s request that the government now detail exactly which entities have received access to the names.

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