Last Updated:December 1 @ 12:13 pm

Muslims to NY attorney general: Investigate NYPD

By Chris Hawley

NEW YORK (AP) - Thirty-three civil rights groups from around the country complained to the New York attorney general Friday about police documents that showed the New York Police Department recommending increased surveillance of Shiite mosques based solely on their religion.

The letter urged Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate NYPD's surveillance operations, revealed by an Associated Press investigation, which monitored entire neighborhoods and built databases about everyday life in Muslim communities.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have insisted that police only follow legitimate leads and do not conduct preventative surveillance in ethnic communities. A May 2006 report addressed to Kelly, however, recommended increased spying at mosques and an assessment of the region's Palestinian community to look for potential terrorists.

Even before the AP published the document, Kelly was under fire from Muslim groups who were angry that a controversial movie about Muslims, "The Third Jihad," was shown at NYPD training sessions. Kelly appears briefly in the movie.

About 150 protesters gathered near police headquarters Friday to challenge the NYPD's tactics.

"Just the fact of knowing there is someone out there trying to listen to my conversations that can turn me into some kind of criminal, which I'm not, and exploiting my religion, it hurts," said Sondos Alsilwi, an 18-year-old history major at City College.

Schneiderman's office did not immediately have a comment on the letter.

The Obama administration has made fighting homegrown terrorism a focus of its national security strategy but has repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether it endorses the NYPD's tactics. Tom Perez, the U.S. Justice Department's top civil rights prosecutor, has refused to even answer questions about the NYPD.

The 2006 intelligence report, entitled "US-Iran Conflict: The Threat to New York City," made a series of recommendations to Kelly, including: "Expand and focus intelligence collections at Shi'a mosques." It includes a list of mosques and community organizations stretching from southern New Jersey to Connecticut.

The NYPD's operating rules prohibit it from basing investigations on religion. The NYPD also says it follows FBI guidelines, which would prohibit many of the steps recommended in the report.

But the NYPD faces little in the way of oversight when it comes to its intelligence programs. Both the City Council and Congress are kept in the dark about this secretive aspect of the department. Many first learned about the spying programs from news reports.

"The masses of people around this city are fed up with the police," City Councilman Charles Barron told protesters Friday. "Who the hell do they think they are?"

On Thursday, Kelly downplayed the significance of the 2006 document, calling it a "contingency plan" for military conflict between the U.S. and Iran. Such language does not exist anywhere in the document.

Fears of such a conflict were rising again Friday amid concerns in the Middle East that Israel was preparing a military strike on Iran. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that an attack would only hurt the United States.

"A war itself will damage the U.S. 10 times over" in the region, "Khamenei said in a national broadcast Friday.

Iran is a majority Shi'a country, while most Muslims belong to the Sunni sect.

In August, when the AP first reported on the spying operations, Bloomberg said the NYPD doesn't even consider religion as part of its police work.

"We don't stop to think about the religion," he said. "We think about the threats and focus our efforts there."

Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna would not say whether the mayor still believes that.


Associated Press reporters Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman and Eileen Sullivan contributed to this article.

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  1. gimmesometruthComment by gimmesometruth
    February 4, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

    Houses of worship have historically been the source of many movements.  American churches above the Mason-Dixon line supported abolition of slavery before the Civil War.  Many churches & associations sent funds to Northern Ireland supporting both sides.  The church that my wife & I were married in, because of membership loss, was sold to a Muslim group.  To our amazement, just after 9/11 the FBI raided this mosque and discovered that they were sending funds to terrorists through their Holyland Foundation.  There seems to be a precedent established which makes the NYPD policy reasonable.  Both sided should keep an eye on each other.  Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

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  2. memawComment by memaw
    February 4, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

    My answer is “Well?” or “So?”.  Where else do the threats come from.  They couldn’t even contest this if sharia law were in effect.

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  3. Son Of ThunderComment by mcrank
    February 4, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

    America to Muslims:  we are investigating YOU.

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  4. DedicatedComment by oldwriter
    February 4, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

    “Mosque’ is a Muslim cover word for Fort. In this country they are ENEMY FORTS. In the old days when explorers established a beachhead in a hostile nation, such as when the Pilgrims landed, they built ‘outposts.’ The Muslims are building outposts, but with the training going on inside, I call them FORTS. 

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  5. memawComment by memaw
    February 4, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

    I guess another key word would be “Duh”.  We have to protect ourselves.  Just like the Israelis do profiling at the airports, instead of punishing little old ladies.  We need to do more profiling for our safety as long as they are not pulling out defenseless people and beating them up. 

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  6. cinbadComment by cinbad
    February 5, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

    We have an Attorney General uninterested in minding our borders, wanting to try terrorists in US civil courts rather than military tribunals, desires to close the only viable containment center for terrosits, just to name a few. With that said, it boils down to our local police force to ferret out criminal activities which would be better left to the FBI or Homeland Security.  Unfortunately, our federal government has boondoggled the national and international police force our country retains. While government shrinks from their responsibility, the media is in full steam PC patrol making sure our language and opinion towards the Muslim population remains docile.  The thing that keeps coming back to me is the part in their holy quran where it states they are to lie to infidels to further their cause of total muslim domination. That scares me to death.

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  7. oldguy39Comment by oldguy39
    February 5, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

    When they are taught from birth, that it is their duty to kill all non-muslims, then it makes sense to keep an eye on them. Ninety nine percent of all terrorist acts in the world are commited by them.
    Not watching their mosques can be compared to losing your watch on one side of the street, and looking for it on the other side, because the light is better.

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