New York police built secret files on mosques in New Jersey

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Galaxy, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    New York police built secret files on mosques in New Jersey

    February 22, 2012

    Newark: Americans living and working in New Jersey's largest city were subjected to surveillance as part of the New York Police Department's effort to build databases of where Muslims work, shop and pray. The operation in Newark was so secretive even the city's mayor says he was kept in the dark.

    For months in mid-2007, plainclothes officers from the NYPD's Demographics Units fanned out across Newark, taking pictures and eavesdropping on conversations inside businesses owned or frequented by Muslims.

    The result was a 60-page report, obtained by The Associated Press, containing brief summaries of businesses and their clientele. Police also photographed and mapped 16 mosques, listing them as "Islamic Religious Institutions."

    The report cited no evidence of terrorism or criminal behavior. It was a guide to Newark's Muslims.

    According to the report, the operation was carried out in collaboration with the Newark Police Department, which at the time was run by a former high-ranking NYPD official. But Newark's mayor, Cory Booker, said he never authorized the spying and was never told about it.

    "Wow," he said as the AP laid out the details of the report. "This raises a number of concerns. It's just very, very sobering."

    Police conducted similar operations outside their jurisdiction in New York's Suffolk and Nassau counties on suburban Long Island, according to police records.

    Such surveillance has become commonplace in New York City in the decade since the 2001 terrorist attacks. Police have built databases showing where Muslims live, where they buy groceries, even what Internet cafes they use and where they watch sports. Dozens of mosques and student groups have been infiltrated and police have built detailed profiles of ethnic communities, from Moroccans to Egyptians to Albanians.

    The documents obtained by the AP show, for the first time in any detail, how those efforts stretched outside the NYPD's jurisdiction. New Jersey and Long Island residents had no reason to suspect the NYPD was watching them. And since the NYPD isn't accountable to their votes or tax dollars, those non-New Yorkers had little recourse to stop it.

    "All of these are innocent people," Nagiba el-Sioufi of Newark said while her husband, Mohammed, flipped through the NYPD report, looking at photos of mosques and storefronts frequented by their friends.

    Egyptian immigrants and American citizens, the couple raised two daughters in the United States. Mohammed works as an accountant and is vice president of the Islamic Culture Center, a mosque a few blocks from Newark City Hall.

    "If you have an accusation on us, then spend the money on doing this to us," Nagiba said. "But you have no accusation."

    NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not return a message seeking comment about the report. Former Newark Police Chief Garry McCarthy, who is now in charge of the Chicago Police Department, also did not return messages left on his cellphone and with a press aide.

    The goal of the report, like others the Demographics Unit compiled, was to give police at-their-fingertips access to information about Muslim neighborhoods. If police got a tip about an Egyptian terrorist in the area, for instance, they wanted to immediately know where he was likely to find a cheap room to rent, where he might buy his lunch and at what mosque he probably would attend Friday prayers.

    "These locations provide the maximum ability to assess the general opinions and general activity of these communities," the Newark report said.

    The effect of the program was that hundreds of American citizens were cataloged - sometimes by name, sometimes simply by their businesses and their ethnicity - in secret police files that spanned hundreds of pages:

    - "A Black Muslim male named Mussa was working in the rear of store," an NYPD detective wrote after a clandestine visit to a dollar store in Shirley, N.Y., on Long Island.

    -"The manager of this restaurant is an Indian Muslim male named Vicky Amin" was the report back from an Indian restaurant in Lindenhurst, N.Y., also on Long Island.

    - "Owned and operated by an African Muslim (possibly Sudanese) male named Abdullah Ddita" was the summary from another dollar store in Shirley, N.Y., just off the highway on the way to the Hamptons, the wealthy Long Island getaway.

    In one report, an officer describes how he put people at ease by speaking in Punjabi and Urdu, languages commonly spoken in Pakistan.

    Last summer, when the AP first began reporting about the NYPD's surveillance efforts, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said his police do not consider religion in their policing.

    On Tuesday, following an AP story that showed the NYPD monitored Muslim student groups around the Northeast, school leaders including Yale president Richard Levin expressed outrage over the tactics. Bloomberg fired back in what was the most vigorous defense yet of his department.

    "The police department goes where there are allegations. And they look to see whether those allegations are true," he told reporters. "That's what you'd expect them to do. That's what you'd want them to do. Remind yourself when you turn out the light tonight."

    There are no allegations of terrorism in the Demographics Unit reports and the documents make clear that police were only interested in locations frequented by Muslims. The canvas of businesses in Newark mentions Islam and Muslims 27 times. In one section of the report, police wrote that the largest immigrant groups in Newark were from Portugal and Brazil. But they did not photograph businesses or churches for those groups.

    "No Muslim component within these communities was identified," police wrote, except for one business owned by a Brazilian Muslim of Palestinian descent.

    Polls show that most New Yorkers strongly support the NYPD's counterterrorism efforts and don't believe police unfairly target Muslims. The Muslim community, however, has called for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's resignation over the spying and the department's screening of a video that portrays Muslims as wanting to dominate the United States.

    In Newark, the report was met with a mixture of bemusement and anger.

    "Come, look at yourself on film," Abdul Kareem Abdullah called to his wife as he flipped through the NYPD files at the lunch counter of their restaurant, Hamidah's Cafe.

    An American-born citizen who converted to Islam decades ago, Abdullah said he understands why, after the 9/11 terror attacks, people are afraid of Muslims. But he said he wishes the police would stop by, say hello, meet him and his customers and get to know them. The documents show police have no interest in that, he said.

    "They just want to keep tabs on us," he said. "If they really wanted to understand, they'd come talk to us."

    After the AP approached Booker, he said the mayor's office had launched an investigation.

    "We're going to get to the bottom of this," he said.

    Booker met with Islamic leaders while campaigning for mayor. Those interviewed by the AP said they wanted to believe he didn't authorize the spying but wanted to hear from him directly.

    "I have to look in his eyes," Mohammed el-Sioufi said at his mosque. "I know him. I met him. He was here."

    Ironically, because officers conducted the operation covertly, the reports contains mistakes that could have been easily corrected had the officers talked to store owners or imams. If police ever had to rely on the database during an unfolding terrorism emergency as they had planned, those errors would have hindered their efforts.

    For instance, locals said several businesses identified as belonging to African-American Muslims actually were owned by Afghans or Pakistanis. El-Sioufi's mosque is listed as an African-American mosque, but he said the imam is from Egypt and the congregation is a roughly even mix of black converts and people of foreign ancestries.

    "We're not trying to hide anything. We are out in the open," said Abdul A. Muhammad, the imam of the Masjid Ali Muslim mosque in Newark. "You want to come in? We have an open door policy."

    By choosing instead to conduct such widespread surveillance, Mohammed el-Sioufi said, police send the message that the whole community is suspect.

    "When you spy on someone, you are kind of accusing them. You are not accepting them for choosing Islam," Nagiba el-Sioufi said. "This doesn't say, 'This guy did something wrong.' This says, 'Everyone here is a Muslim'."

    "It makes you feel uncomfortable, like this is not your country," she added. "This is our country."

    New York police built secret files on mosques in New Jersey
     
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  3. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    Excellent job by NYPD. It's necessary to have an close eye in order to control the spread of Islamic terrorism.

    Hope, Our Spineless Government also does the same to check thousands of Mosques and don't ignore for the sake of vote bank politics. :sad:
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Can't blame the Americans!

    They were shocked out of their underpants with 9/11.

    They could never imagine that the US, protected by the Oceans on both sides could be attacked!

    They love coffee.

    This time they smelt it!
     
  5. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    New York mayor defends monitoring of Muslim students on Web

    February 22, 2012

    New York: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Tuesday defended the New York Police Department's monitoring of the Web sites of Muslim student groups at more than a dozen universities across the Northeast, framing the effort as one way to guard against the threat of terrorism.

    "The Police Department goes where there are allegations, and they look to see whether those allegations are true," Mr. Bloomberg said at an appearance at the Brooklyn Public Library. "That's what you would expect them to do. That's what you would want them to."

    The mayor's support of the department's intelligence-gathering came as officials at several universities expressed deep concern over what they called a manner of police activity that they had been in the dark about for years.

    Yale University's president, Richard C. Levin, said in an e-mail on Sunday to students and faculty and staff members, "I am writing to state, in the strongest possible terms, that police surveillance based on religion, nationality or peacefully expressed political opinion is antithetical to the values of Yale, the academic community and the United States."

    Dr. Levin added: "The Yale Muslim Students Association has been an important source of support for Yale students during a period when Muslims and Islam itself have too often been the target of thoughtless stereotyping, misplaced fear and bigotry."

    According to an internal Police Department report from Nov. 22, 2006, an officer from the Cyber Intelligence Unit had the "daily routine" of monitoring the Web sites, blogs and forums of Muslim student groups at 16 universities, including several in New York City and across the state, as well as Ivy League colleges. The report was first disclosed in an article by The Associated Press on Saturday that described various police efforts to monitor Muslim students.

    The report, labeled "Weekly MSA Report," catalogs six events in 2006 at three universities and includes the names of lecturers and, in one case, of a University at Buffalo student who posted a message about one event. It highlights, for instance, that Muslim students at Buffalo that week publicized an event featuring Muslim scholars from abroad. It details how Muslim students at New York University offered religious instruction for new converts, and it says that at Rutgers a prayer day was announced online.

    Thirteen other Muslim student associations - including the one at Yale and another at the University of Pennsylvania - did not post any plans online that caught the attention of the Police Department during that week in 2006. But the report is notable for what it does not say: It remains unclear if anyone from the department attended the events or if the information led to further inquiries by the police. The report, stamped "N.Y.P.D. Secret," indicates it was specifically prepared for Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.

    Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman, has pointed out that the information in the report came from "open sources" on the Internet. On Tuesday, the mayor echoed that notion in responding to criticism from Yale.

    "If going on Web sites and looking for information is not what Yale stands for," Mr. Bloomberg said, "I don't know."

    The mayor also repeated assertions by the police that several convicted terrorists had been involved in Muslim student associations.

    "Of course, we're going to look at anything that's publicly available, in the public domain," Mr. Bloomberg said. "We have an obligation to do so, and it is to protect the very things that let Yale survive."

    Mr. Browne said the Police Department "assembled reports," in 2006 and 2007, on Muslim student associations' activity from whatever information it could glean in the public domain.

    "Some of the most dangerous Western Al Qaeda-linked/inspired terrorists since 9/11 were radicalized and/or recruited at universities in MSAs," Mr. Browne said via e-mail. "We were focused on radicalization and/or recruitment, specifically by groups like Al Muhajiroun, Islamic Thinkers Society, Revolution Muslim and others."

    But Mr. Browne and a spokesman for the mayor did not answer repeated questions about whether such efforts were continuing. The A.P., in its article Saturday, reported that in April 2008 an undercover officer accompanied Muslim students from the City College of New York on a white-water rafting trip in upstate New York and listed the attendees' names in a report. Mr. Bloomberg said he had "no idea" about such a trip.

    A spokesman for the City College of New York said that he could not verify that the rafting trip had occurred, but that the college did not "accept or condone any investigation of any student organization based on the political or religious content of its ideas, just as we would not accept or condone any student organization that does not abide by the law.

    "Absent specific evidence linking a member of the City College community to criminal activity, we do not condone this kind of investigation."

    Last week, Robert Hornsby, a spokesman for Columbia University, said he was unaware of any police monitoring of students, but added, "We would obviously be concerned about anything that could chill our essential values of academic freedom or intrude on student privacy."

    John Beckman, a spokesman for New York University, said, "N.Y.U. stands in fellowship with its Muslim students in expressing our community's concerns over these activities."

    And John DellaContrada, a spokesman for Buffalo, said that the university "would not voluntarily cooperate" if asked by the police to aid in surveillance.

    New York mayor defends monitoring of Muslim students on Web
     
  6. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    [​IMG]

    NY: Police check of Muslim students sparks outrage - World News - IBNLive

    The one who is making too much noise and protesting against U.S. government decision, Should understand one thing very clearly. U.S. is not Islamic country. It's Christian secular country. If you live in Non-Muslim countries, Follows the rule. If you can't, Then don't go to U.S. or any other Non-Muslim country and live in Islamic country under influence of Muslim brotherhood, Fatwas.Mosques and Mullahs Clerical guideline. No one is inviting. Every immigrants should follow the Law of the country. For a change, why not do protest against Non-Muslims killing in Islamic country ? But I think, That would be too much too ask.... :rolleyes:

    U.S. is not India..... :nono:
     
  7. lookieloo

    lookieloo Regular Member

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    Damn right... I'm frankly upset that the FBI wasn't involved as well. Anyone not keeping close tabs on the mohamedians within their borders is a complete idiot.
     
  8. Blackwater

    Blackwater Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Better safe then sorry
     

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