WASHINGTON—After 15 years of broadly targeting the 3.3-million-member community and extensively monitoring its activities, the FBI declared an end Friday to its surveillance of Muslim Americans, saying its exhaustive study of their beautiful culture was finally complete.
Officials confirmed that the program was started in the fall of 2001 when federal agents, captivated by Islam’s complex history and rich spiritual traditions, redirected the full force of the bureau’s intelligence-gathering apparatus toward developing a more thoughtful, nuanced appreciation of the Muslim-American way of life.
“We’d always known Islam was one of the great world religions, but it wasn’t until we recruited a network of 15,000 informants and infiltrated mosques all over the country that we came to understand just how magnificent and fascinating it truly is,” said FBI director James B. Comey, who noted that agents gained a valuable and eye-opening understanding of Islam—while also learning a lot about themselves and their own faith in the process—after entering the Muslim places of worship to collect as much information as they could on the intriguing personal beliefs of the religion’s followers. “After analyzing the transcripts of thousands of phone calls and intercepting the communications of prominent Muslim-American leaders and academics, we’ve really come to admire their vibrant culture.”
“The considerable amount of intel we’ve gathered and carefully pored over for the past 15 years has shown us that their faith and customs are really quite inspiring,” Comey added. “If there’s one thing we’ve taken away from all our surveillance, it’s what a glorious and enriching part of our world Islam is.”