What Would Life Be Like If 9/11 Never Happened? - Grunge

The FBI came under fire in 2023 for spying on Traditionalist Catholics on the grounds of fighting potential terrorism and violent domestic extremism. Despite the outrage, the practice was not new. Muslims faced the same FBI spying and entrapment schemes in mosques after 9/11. Without 9/11, the spying would probably have been considered intolerable. After 9/11, however, people probably tolerated it because the targets were Muslims, like the 9/11 hijackers. But it set the precedent for spying on everyone else in the name of security.

In one particularly egregious case, the FBI planted an informant in a California mosque in the mid-2000s. He collected congregants’ personal information, recorded individuals who had not been charged or suspected of a crime, and passed intel to the bureau. He also attempted to entrap a handful of congregants into terror plots, despite FBI assurances the bureau was building bridges between Muslims and law enforcement. Imam Yassir Fazaga sued the FBI on First Amendment grounds, arguing the bureau targeted his congregants for practicing their religion.

The FBI motioned to dismiss, arguing that the lawsuit would reveal state secrets, and won in district court. Following an appeal and a Supreme Court ruling in the FBI’s favor that opened the path to dismissal on the state secrets privilege, the case is in the Ninth circuit, almost two decades after the spying occurred.