Records say a small plane linked to an FBI surveillance program has flown several times over the Detroit area, including two flights last weekend.
The plane is among those that routinely orbit major U.S. cities and rural areas. An investigation by The Associated Press that was published June identified more than 100 flights in 11 states over a 30-day period this spring, with more flights since then.
Flight data reviewed by The Detroit News showed surveillance over Dearborn, a Detroit suburb that has large Arab and Muslim populations, with the plane flying in slow-speed orbits. Federal officials haven't commented on those flights.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says he plans to file a complaint with the House Judiciary Committee.
The FBI released a statement denying the allegations of a surveillance program.
The FBI routinely uses aviation assets in support of lawful, predicated investigations targeting specific individuals and, when requested and appropriate, in support of state and local law enforcement. The use of aviation assets is strictly regulated and governed through rigorous oversight by DOJ and in full compliance with the Attorney General Guidelines and the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide. The FAA is fully aware and supportive of this practice.
“Contrary to the suggestion of some recent media reporting, the FBI does not employ aviation assets to conduct mass surveillance nor to target specific communities. Neither does the FBI monitor lawfully protected First Amendment activity. Further, the FBI Detroit Field Office is not aware of any specific or credible threats within the local Detroit Metropolitan area. As always, we continue to work hard each and every day in cooperation with our partners to prevent harm to the citizens and communities we serve. We also urge ongoing vigilance on the part of everyone and strongly request that any suspicious activity be reported to law enforcement authorities.”
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