Bad Partners: Why Local Law Enforcement Should Leave FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces
February 11, 2021
FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) inflict harm on local communities through racial profiling, harassment, suspicionless surveillance and investigations, and exploitation of immigration enforcement, all of which are authorized under federal guidelines loosened after 9/11. The FBI relies on the labor of state and local law enforcement officers assigned to the JTTFs, who agree to follow federal guidelines even if they conflict with state and local law, policies, and regulations. Civil rights advocates and community groups in Portland, San Francisco, and Oakland organized successful campaigns and lobbying operations to demand that their city legislatures hold local police accountable to local laws and ultimately withdraw from the JTTFs when the FBI refused to allow such public accountability. Advocates from each of these cities will discuss their efforts to organize public resistance to JTTF activities, enlist their elected representatives, craft legislation, and ultimately end local police participation in JTTFs, providing a model for other localities.
This event was produced in partnership with The Brennan Center for Justice and New York University's John Brademas Center.
Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA)
Zahra Billoo serves as the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA) office, the oldest and one of the largest CAIR chapter offices. Since joining in 2009, Zahra has led the organization through a period of six-fold growth. Today, she manages one of the largest CAIR offices in the country with a team of civil rights and social justice advocates dedicated to the empowerment of American Muslims through legal services, legislative advocacy, and community organizing.
Under Zahra’s leadership, CAIR-SFBA has filed lawsuits against the United States Department of Justice, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Southwest Airlines, representing American Muslims facing discriminatory treatment. CAIR-SFBA has also significantly expanded its capabilities to provide know-your-rights sessions on a nearly weekly basis to mosques and community members in the San Francisco Bay Area, while also providing direct legal representation to Bay Area residents facing numerous civil rights violations, including FBI interviews, employment discrimination, airport harassment, school bullying, and hate crimes.
Zahra’s advocacy has included media appearances in local and national media, including MSNBC, NPR, the San Francisco Chronicle, and even FOX News. Among her awards, she received the 2017 Human Rights Award from the Society of American Law Teachers and the 2014 Unsung Hero Award from the National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. She was also listed by the San Jose Mercury News as a “Woman to Watch” in March 2017 for Women’s History Month, as well as by the Chronicle of Philanthropy in their January 2018 cover story on millennials who lead.
She is currently a fellow with the American Leadership Forum’s Silicon Valley Chapter and an alumna of Rockwood’s Fellowship for a New California, LeaderSpring’s Executive Directors Fellowship, and USC’s American Muslim Civil Leadership Institute. Zahra earned her undergraduate degrees from the California State University, Long Beach, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Hastings. She is licensed to practice law in California.
Outside of her work with CAIR, Zahra bakes birthday cakes for foster children through Cake4Kids and is a coordinator for Project Feed, a monthly homeless feeding effort in downtown San Francisco.
Javeria Jamil, Staff Attorney, National Security and Civil Rights, Asian Americans Advancing Justice/Asian Law Caucus
Javeria Jamil is a staff attorney with the National Security and Civil Rights program.
Javeria has focused her work on immigrants rights and civil rights issues affecting the Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities. Prior to joining Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Javeria worked as the legal services director for Advancing Justice – Atlanta to establish the immigration legal services department providing low-cost and pro bono services to low-income immigrants in metro Atlanta.
She was the Government Watchlist Fellow for the Council on Americans Islamic Relations in Washington D.C., where she assisted clients who had been wrongfully places on the U.S. government’s terror watchlist. During law school, she was an active member of her law school’s chapter of the International Refugee Assistance Project, where she led a team of students in helping Afghan and Iraqi interpreters and refugees apply for Special Immigrant Visas in the U.S.
Javeria received her B.A. from UCLA and her J.D. from the George Washington University of Law. She is admitted to practice in California, Georgia, and Washington D.C.
Brandon Mayfield, Oregon Lawyer and Activist
Brandon Mayfield was born in Coos Bay, Oregon and grew up in Halstead, Kansas. He served in the United States Army Reserve from 1985 to 1989, and then as an officer in the Army in Bitburg, Germany from 1992 to 1994.
He studied law at Washburn University and Lewis and Clark College, receiving his law degree from Washburn in 1999, and practicing family law in Newport before moving to the Portland area. Mayfield performed work for the Modest Means Program of the Oregon State Bar, which matches attorneys who are willing to work at reduced rates for low-income clients. In 2003 he offered legal aid to Jeffrey Leon Battle, one of the Portland Seven, a group of people convicted of trying to travel to Afghanistan to help the Taliban.
Mike German (Moderator), Fellow, Liberty and National Security Program, Brennan Center for Justice
Michael German is a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program, which seeks to ensure that the U.S. government respects human rights and fundamental freedoms in conducting the fight against terrorism. A former special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, his work focuses on law enforcement and intelligence oversight and reform. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, German served as the policy counsel for national security and privacy for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office.
German is the author of Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy. The book chronicles how the FBI transformed itself after the 9/11 attacks from a law enforcement agency famous for prosecuting organized crime and corruption to arguably the most secretive domestic intelligence agency the country has ever seen. A 16-year veteran of federal law enforcement, German served as an FBI special agent, where he specialized in domestic terrorism and covert operations. He left the FBI in 2004 after reporting continuing deficiencies in FBI counterterrorism operations to Congress. German served as an adjunct professor of law enforcement and terrorism at National Defense University. He joined the ACLU’s Washington legislative office in 2006 and the Brennan Center in 2014. His first book, Thinking Like a Terrorist: Insights of a Former FBI Undercover Agent, was published in 2007.
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