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Civil Rights Group Challenges Gov't Terror Watch List Process In Federal Lawsuit

DEARBORN (WWJ/AP) - A civil rights group filed a federal lawsuit Thursday challenging the placement of five Detroit-area Muslims on a national watch list of suspected terrorists and their associates.

Dawud Walid is executive director of the Michigan chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy and civil liberties organization for Muslims, and preacher at Islamic centers across the U.S. and spoke with WWJ 's City Beat reporter Vickie Thomas.

"The issue of the watch list has been an ongoing problem and actually has ballooned under the Obama administration, and that the leak that took place last week in terms of showing Dearborn as being number two as far as the number of people on the watch list is just indicative of what we've known that's been going on in terms of the American Muslim community and people being placed on watch lists," said Walid.

CAIR Attorney Lena Masri represents the five plaintiffs:

"Under the current administration we have witnessed an unprecedented expansion of the terrorist watch list, which dis-proportionally targets the American Muslim community and unfairly targets the American Muslim community. This morning (Thursday) CAIR Michigan filed a lawsuit - which for the first time challenges the governments broad and unchecked powers to secretly designate American Muslims to be added to the terrorist watch list without due process," she said.

"Persons placed on the federal watch list have no means of removing themselves or challenging the basis for their inclusion," the lawsuit said. "Indeed, people on the federal watch lists only learn of their placement when they feel the web of consequences burdening their lives and aspirations, and they never learn why."

Masri said the list disproportionately targets American Muslims.

"This lawsuit is an expression of anger at the indiscriminate approach that the federal government has taken to watch-listing American Muslims," said co-council.

The lawsuit also wants the government to notify people going on the watch list and give them a chance to contest the designation.

The government has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.

The National Counterterrorism Center says 1.1 million people were in the watch list database at the end of 2013. Online publication The Intercept reported earlier this month that it obtained a secret 2013 government document and found Dearborn was second behind New York City in the number of listed names. The Detroit area, including Dearborn, is home to about 150,000 Muslims.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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