From KQED’s Mina Kim yesterday: A report on a second Arab-American, Bay Area citizen who was shocked to find a law enforcement GPS device on his car.

From the report:

An Arab-American man in San Rafael–a U.S. citizen and long-time Marin County resident–is accusing police of secretly attaching a GPS tracking device to his car.

That allegation from retired grocery and gas-station owner Abdo Alwareeth stems from a 2008 incident and comes just two weeks after a similar case in the South Bay. That’s where an Arab-American junior college student discovered that a tracking device had been installed on his vehicle by the FBI.

Civil liberties lawyers say they believe there may be numerous other cases of authorities tracking individuals without warrants. But the courts are split on whether a warrant is even needed.

Alwareeth says that he found the device under his car two years ago while taking an auto maintenance class. After he retired, Alwareeth says, he wanted to do community service and signed up to become an in-home care worker in Marin County. The county paid car expenses to staff who took the auto repair class, that included examining the undercarriage of each student’s car.

On October 8, KGO-TV aired an interview with 20-year-old Yasir Afifi, a half-Egyptian, American citizen who also discovered a GPS device under his car and was later visited and questioned by the FBI.

In light of the Juan Williams controversy (Google search provided in case you don’t listen to NPR, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, the conversation in the break room at work, or the random effusions of people on the street), I’m finding these reports especially interesting. Whatever you think about Williams’ comments, or his right to make those comments on-air without getting the axe, it’s at least instructive to hear first-hand the kind of close scrutiny that some Arab Americans who feel perfectly innocent of any crime now live under. And I imagine that it can’t be too pleasant to hear the raw fear of them as a group, which obviously some people do experience, spoken aloud on television.

Another Tracking Device Found on an Arab-American’s Car 22 October,2010Jon Brooks


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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