Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old Arab-American student, is suing the FBI for placing a GPS tracking device on his car and then threatening him with charges when he tried to keep it.
The lawsuit, filed by by Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Wednesday, accused Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller of violating Afifi’s constitutional rights.
The suit, obtained by Talking Points Memo, explained that Afifi, an American-born student at Mission College in Sara Clara who also works as a salesman, was concerned that the device found on his car might be a pipe bomb.
After posting photos of the device on Reddit.com, agents came to his apartment in a “bizarre mission to retrieve the device” and questioned him, according to the lawsuit.
“Even after requesting counsel, the FBI agents continued to make demands of Mr. Afifi and interrogate him,” the suit claimed. “They asked him whether he was a national security threat, whether he was excited about an upcoming (but undisclosed) trip abroad, whether he was having financial difficulties, whether he had been to Yemen, why he traveled overseas, and many other questions.”
Afifi eventually relented and turned over the device after being threatened with federal charges.
One agent named Jennifer Kanaan “made clear that she knew intimate, private details of Mr. Afifi’s life” like that he had recently gotten a new job. She also complimented his taste in restaurants, the suit said.
The lawsuit noted that an FBI report obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) detailed statements he had made to the media.
The report also identified people he contacted, hospitals he went to, organizations he belong to and religious services he attended.
Afifi had no connections to terrorism and was not politically active, CAIR attorney Zahra Billoo told The San Francisco Chronicle.
“He fit the profile – an Arab American male, young, lives by himself, travels frequently to the Middle East to visit his family,” she said.
A call to Billoo was not returned at the time of publication.
The FBI had not disclosed why it was monitoring Afifi.
Photo credit: Yasir Afifi