Farhana Khera

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Farhana Khera

Farhana Khera, is the first executive director of Muslim Advocates. Prior to joining Muslim Advocates in 2005, Ms. Khera was Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights. In the Senate, she worked for six years directly for Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), the Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee. Ms. Khera focused substantially on the Patriot Act, racial and religious profiling, and other civil liberties issues raised by the government’s anti-terrorism policies after September 11, 2001. She was also the Senator’s lead staff member developing anti-racial profiling legislation and organizing subcommittee hearings on racial profiling, Ms. Khera wrote the first drafts of the End Racial Profiling Act and organized the first ever Congressional hearing on racial profiling.

Prior to her service with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Khera was an associate with Hogan & Hartson, specializing in commercial and administrative litigation. She also worked with Ross, Dixon & Masback, serving as the lead associate on several pro bono employment discrimination cases, which resulted in the firm being honored with the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

Ms. Khera has been honored by the Auburn Theological Seminary with its Lives of Commitment Award, along with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Barbara Friedman. She has also been recognized by Islamica Magazine as one of “10 Young Muslim Visionaries” for leadership, innovative approaches, and “a level of success that bodes well for America.” Because of her leadership in civil rights, the White House asked Ms. Khera to facilitate the first and only meeting between Muslim community advocates with President Barack Obama.

Ms. Khera has written op-eds in the Washington Post and New York Times, and has been quoted or profiled in numerous publications including The New York Times, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Politico, and the Los Angeles Times. Ms. Khera has also made numerous appearances to discuss civil rights issues on national televised news, including CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN, and the Charlie Rose Show.

Ms. Khera received her B.A. with honors in Political Science and Economics from Wellesley College and her J.D. from Cornell Law School. At Wellesley, she served as president of the student body and co-founded the first Muslim student organization, al-Muslimat (“The Muslim Women”). At Cornell, Ms. Khera was a finalist in the law school’s annual Cuccia Cup Moot Court Competition and was an editor of the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy.[1]

Muslim Advocates

Farhana Khera leads Muslim Advocates, which claims there is widespread abuse of Muslims by law enforcement. "We have very serious concerns about FBI surveillance tactics that are used," she said in the wake of a series of arrests in terror plots involving sting operations and informants. In an April 13, 2010, article titled "Americans Should Be Free to Pray without FBI Snooping," Khera accused the FBI of "planting informants" in "American Muslim congregations." Without providing any evidence, she claimed "FBI agent provocateurs" had infiltrated mosques "without evidence of wrongdoing" in places as far out as New York, Florida and Southern California.

Courts have rejected arguments that such tactics entrapped people who otherwise would not have engaged in terror plots. In December, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to the group, vigorously challenging the premise. "Those who characterize the FBI's activities in this case as 'entrapment' simply do not have their facts straight or do not have a full understanding of the law."

Another Muslim Advocates message is that Muslims should never talk to the FBI without an attorney present. The group's web page includes an alert advising:

"The FBI is contacting Pakistani, South-Asian and other Muslim Americans to solicit information and advice about addressing violent extremism.

Muslim Advocates strongly urges individuals not to speak with law enforcement officials without the presence or advice of an attorney."

During the July 2010 Islamic Society of North America conference, Khera warned Islamic community leaders about talking with FBI agents, saying the FBI only wants to use them as "sources" to cause unspecified "harm."

"And sometimes these community members don't even think of themselves as a source," Khera said." You know that they just might think themselves – Well I have a good relationship with the head of the FBI office; you know he comes by my office from time to time and we have tea, or we go to lunch, and he just talks to me about the community. But what may seem like an innocuous set of conversations in the FBI's mind they may be thinking of you as an informant, as a source. And the repercussions and the harm that that can cause can be pretty serious."

One example she cites is the case of Imam Ahmed Afzali, who was deported July 2010 after pleading guilty to lying to federal agents about his communication with terrorist suspect Najibullah Zazi.

FBI agents had sought Afzali's help in finding Zazi, who was being sought as he traveled to New York in hopes of carrying out a bombing attack on the subway system. Afzali later called Zazi, alerting him to the fact law enforcement was after him, allowing Zazi to evade law enforcement surveillance.

In remarks at last summer's ISNA convention, Khera asserted that Afzali's plight was the result of his speaking to the FBI without counsel, rather than because of his tipping off a wanted terror suspect.

And on the day the court ordered his deportation he was talking to reporters and basically in tears because as he said, he thought he was doing his duty, his patriotic duty in helping to protect our communities," she said. "And this is what happened to him. And that's just one example of really frankly the risks and consequences of engaging with law enforcement without an attorney."

Similarly, she blamed the FBI for the shooting death of a Detroit imam who had opened fire first as agents tried to arrest him in October 2009. In February 2010, Khera wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder urging that DOJ to broaden a investigation the shooting death of a Detroit imam by FBI agents and to "review the entire circumstances regarding the surveillance, investigation and attempted arrest of Imam Luqman [Abdullah]." Among the reasons for concern was the fact that an FBI K-9 was sent in to subdue Abdullah "when he refused to surrender," which she classified as unnecessary "lethal force."

"As Imam Luqman had allegedly barricaded himself inside the warehouse and did not appear to pose an immediate threat to FBI agents on the scene, we are concerned that the FBI's decision to escalate the situation b by sending in an attack dog, rather than continuing to negotiate a surrender actually provoked the gunfire that resulted in the Imam's death."

Khera's letter ignores information the FBI had to factor in planning to arrest the imam and four followers who were with him on a series of firearms, fraud and stolen goods charges. The investigation included an informant and recordings which showed that Abdullah instructed his followers to be armed at all times. He preached offensive jihad and used his mosque for training in martial arts and with firearms. He repeatedly vowed not to go peacefully if police ever came to arrest him. "He will respond with violence, and they will have to shoot him before they can arrest him," he told a witness. He was recorded in a 2004 sermon yelling, "Police, so what? Police die too! Feds die too!" and "Do not carry a pistol if you're going to give it up to police. You give them a bullet."

As a videotape of the incident released later showed, Abdullah backed up his bold talk.

"The facts show Abdullah making a series of decisions that resulted in the use of deadly force against him – and ultimately his death. None of Abdullah's followers who complied with the police commands were injured in any way," said a report from Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox.

Fellow witness Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, reached the same conclusion in his final report on the Abdullah shooting. It concluded that all the evidence showed agents "fired only after Imam Abdullah brandished a concealed handgun and shot toward them and that they legitimately feared that Imam Abdullah was in a position to cause death or significant injury to another."[2]

"Muslim Rights" hearing

Senator Dick Durbin’s “Muslim Rights” hearing held on March 29 2011, by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights was heavily influenced by a Durbin staffer.

The key staffer, Reema Dodin, is in regular contact with the Council on American Islamic Relations. She is a Palestinian rights activist who organized anti-Israel rallies at the University of California at Berkeley as a student. Dodin was also a member of the Muslim Student Association.

Dodin was cited in the book "Muslim Mafia" as one of the moles who had cultivated contacts inside the offices of key Democrat leaders. In fact, CAIR has her listed as a reliable source in their rolodex. Her boss, Sen. Durbin has been a long-time supporter of CAIR – and has helped raise funds for this terrorist-linked group.

It was Dodin who recommended the top witness for the March 29 hearing – fellow San Francisco-area activist Farhana Khera. He is founder of Muslim Advocates, an organization that has sued the Department of Justice to force it to disclose the FBI’s undercover operations to disrupt terrorist activities inside radical mosques. Muslim Advocates also advises Muslim witnesses or suspects to not talk to the FBI.[3]

National Leading From the Inside Out Alum

Farhana Khera, Muslim Advocates, was a 2012 Rockwood Leadership Institute National Leading From the Inside Out Alum.[4]