Archive for NYPD

Four Myths that Led to the NYPD’s Attack on Muslim Civil Liberties

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by loonwatch
Daniel Tutt
Daniel Tutt

(Via IslamophobiaToday)

Four Myths that Led to the NYPD’s Attack on Muslim Civil Liberties

by Daniel Tutt, Bio

Over the last month, multiple scandals have leaked that show the extent to which the NYPD has violated the civil liberties of thousands of New York Muslims under the banner of counterterrorism efforts. Protecting the homeland must remain central in all of our policing and intelligence-gathering efforts, but it should not, and does not have to result in the alienation of hundreds of thousands of New York Muslims. Equally important, counterterrorism efforts must operate on sound and factual analysis of the threat posed by the Muslim community, and collaboration with Muslim community leaders and citizens should be a top priority.

The damage that these scandals have caused in severing the lines of trust between law enforcement and the Muslim community may be irreparable in the short term, but it is not too late for the NYPD to begin assessing the policies that led us to where we are today.

In a recently exposed white paper published by the NYPD entitled, “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” we find the basis of an entire philosophy of counterterrorism that operates on several myths that must be addressed.

Let’s examine each of these myths in turn.

1. Extremist Muslims have permeated New York Muslim communities. The white paper states:

“New York City has a diverse Muslim population of between 600,000 and 750,000 within a population of about 8 ½ million–about 40% of whom are foreign-born. Unfortunately, extremists who have and continue to sow the seeds of radicalization have permeated the City’s Muslim communities.”

To suggest that the Muslim community of New York is being overran with violent extremism is far from the truth. The New York Muslim community makes up an estimated 1 million people throughout the entire state. The community has incredible racial, socioeconomic, and ethnic diversity, and is very well integrated into the larger society.

The threat this community poses is similar to the threat that American Muslims pose nationwide: very little to none. Since 9/11, over 40% of the cases where criminal charges were brought upon an American Muslim for suspicion in a terrorism related case, the Muslim community was responsible for turning that individual, or individuals, over to the authorities. Muslims see counterterrorism as their duty according to recent public opinion polls, and they are more concerned about preventing terrorism then are the rest of the non-Muslim American public per capita. Don’t we want to increase this trend of Muslims serving on the front line of counterterrorism efforts? Increasing it has the dual benefit of making Muslims an integral part of the solution, and making them feel like a valued collaborator in the war on terrorism.

According to the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s comprehensive terrorism database, of the 49 Muslim domestic and foreign based plots against the U.S. since 9/11 – there were over 105 terrorist plots from non-Muslim groups and individuals – nearly 1 in 3 of these plots were turned over to the authorities by the American Muslim community.

2. A Muslim’s level of religiosity is a sign of radicalization and support for terrorism. The second myth that the document supports is the so called “conveyor belt theory” of terrorism, which argues that terrorism is based on a continuum of religiosity, where the more religious a Muslim gets, the greater likeliness they may adopt violent extremism. This is a major misnomer that has unfortunately been taught to hundreds of thousands of police and intelligence agents nationwide as exposed in a recent investigative report by Political Research Associates entitled Manufacturing the Muslim Menace.

The white paper describes the ideology that supports terrorism as “jihadi-Salafi Islam” but never defines these terms, especially what they mean for Muslims. Instead, they exaggerate what a “Salafi Muslim” is, and neglect to point out that the majority of Salafi Muslims in western Europe and in America are not in favor of using violence and are generally peaceful. It also refuses to look at competing studies of radicalization. For example, Quintan Wiktorowicz, National Security Agency Director learned in anextensive empirical research project he headed up on radicalization of Muslim youth, that there is no correlation between religiosity and a willingness to become radicalized. In other words, the more religious Muslims became, the less likely they would be to join radical movements.

Wiktorowicz insight supports what Policy Analyst Alejandro Beutel has recently discovered in his careful analysis of Osama bin-Laden’s recruitment rhetoric. In a careful analysis of the content of each lecture that bin-Laden gave, MPAC discovered that al-Qaeda’s recruiting “pitch” was overwhelmingly political/policy-oriented, not religious.

Let’s be realistic. The threat from al-Qaeda is concerning. Despite the controversial nature of his assassination, Anwar Awlaki’s death and disappearance from the scene is a welcoming sign in the ongoing recruitment that Al-Qaeda is attempting, mainly online, to American Muslims. The fact that we no longer have a charismatic, English speaking figurehead of al-Qaeda to brainwash American Muslims to commit acts of violence is a great thing. Awlaki’s model seemed to be fairly effective in turning about two-dozen American Muslims towards a commitment to violent radicalization against the west andAmerica in particular. Importantly, this was happening in anonymous chat rooms online, not in mosques, or mainstream religious institutions in America.

3. Profiling Muslims is possible and necessary. The third myth that the white paper supports is that Muslims must be profiled; suggesting not only is it necessary, but that it is possible. Here is an excerpt from the paper:

“Radicalization makes little noise. It borders on areas protected by the First and Fourth Amendments. It takes place over a long period of time. It therefore does not lend itself to a traditional criminal investigations approach.”

When we analyze the homegrown cases of Muslim terrorists since 9/11, we find vastly different ethnic origin, age, ideological affiliation, and motivations. While the policy grievance remains consistent in each case, the idea of profiling based on religiosity or the outward expression of religiosity is just plain wrong and nonsensical. Like we saw from Wiktorowicz’s research, religious Muslims should be seen as allies, as there is no empirical relationship between religiosity and support for terrorism.

4. Muslim community leaders and citizens do not need to be consulted in counterterrorism efforts. Nowhere in the 90 plus page report do we find details or best practices for policymakers and intelligence officers in building partnerships with New York Muslims.

In an ironic way, the controversies coming out of the NYPD, while they hurt the relationship between Muslims and law enforcement, they help engage Muslims in the political process and in speaking up for their rights. The New York Muslim community is fed up, and many point to the rising trend of Islamophobia as the cause for this wanton disregard for Muslim civil liberties.

One of the key recommendations that Charles Kurzman, a leading expert on Muslim radicalization of the Triangle Center for Terrorism Research proposes is that Muslim Americans be given the means to express themselves politically in American society. The fight against Islamophobia as a healthy way for Muslim Americans to stand up for their rights and in the process demand equal respect. Like the civil rights movement for Black Americans, many politically engaged Muslims feel that the fight against bigotry and misunderstanding of their faith will result in a greater level of integration into the American experience.

From 2005 to 2011 we have witnessed an increase in the so-called “lone wolf” phenomenon of extremism – an isolated individual becomes indoctrinated by a charismatic pseudo religious leader and seeks to act out violence against the American populace. Thankfully, this threat is relatively minor, and unfortunately often caused by FBI entrapment.

What we have not yet seen is the climate of growing Islamophobia serving as the cause for a lone wolf attack on America, or even the turn to radicalization itself. Since it is always best to be ahead of the storm, we must encourage large-scale movements against Islamophobia because they help to further a healthy civic alternative to American Muslims that are somewhat prone to lunatic false prophets on YouTube like Anwar Awlaki. It is through fighting Islamophobia and standing up for civil rights that we can create a vehicle whereby Muslims can vent their anger and develop a new language that ties the values of Islam to a unique American and democratic narrative. This sort of action has already begun, and when scandals emerge like these, Muslim Americans should be vocal and demand justice.

Someone Called the FBI on NYPD Officers Pretending to Be Muslim Students

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by loonwatch

Someone Called the FBI on NYPD Officers Pretending to Be Muslim Students

When the New York Police Department was doing some spying on Muslim students outside the city (that’s a thing it does, we learned from the Associated Press on Monday), an apartment officers used to spy on Rutgers students got a visit from the FBI on a report that it was a terrorist cell itself. This is the kind of reporting that won the AP a Polk award Monday for its series on the NYPD spying on Muslims. Not only did the department go well outside its jurisdiction to “get a better handle on what was occurring at” Muslim Student Associations, as spokesman Paul Browne told the AP, it did so in a pretty Keystone Kops manner at times:

Police also were interested in the Muslim student group at Rutgers, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 2009, undercover NYPD officers had a safe house in an apartment not far from campus. The operation was blown when the building superintendent stumbled upon the safe house and, thinking it was some sort of a terrorist cell, called the police emerency dispatcher.

The FBI responded and determined that monitoring Rutgers students was one of the operation’s objectives, current and former federal officials said.

Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments or send an email to the author atamartin@theatlantic.com. You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.

NYPD monitored Muslim students all over Northeast

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , on February 19, 2012 by loonwatch

The FBI is busy entrapping young Muslims while the local police department is spying on Muslim students without warrant or reason.  Here’s a report from The Associated Press:

NYPD monitored Muslim students all over Northeast

By CHRIS HAWLEY, Associated Press – 19 hours ago

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department monitored Muslim college students far more broadly than previously known, at schools far beyond the city limits, including the elite Ivy League colleges of Yale and the University of Pennsylvania, The Associated Press has learned.

Police talked with local authorities about professors 300 miles (480 kilometers) away in Buffalo and even sent an undercover agent on a whitewater rafting trip, where he recorded students’ names and noted in police intelligence files how many times they prayed.

Detectives trawled Muslim student websites every day and, although professors and students had not been accused of any wrongdoing, their names were recorded in reports prepared for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Asked about the monitoring, police spokesman Paul Browne provided a list of 12 people arrested or convicted on terrorism charges in the United States and abroad who had once been members of Muslim student associations, which the NYPD referred to as MSAs. Jesse Morton, who this month pleaded guilty to posting online threats against the creators of the animated TV show “South Park,” had once tried to recruit followers at Stony Brook University on Long Island, Browne said.

“As a result, the NYPD deemed it prudent to get a better handle on what was occurring at MSAs,” Browne said in an email. He said police monitored student websites and collected publicly available information, but did so only between 2006 and 2007.

“I see a violation of civil rights here,” said Tanweer Haq, chaplain of the Muslim Student Association at Syracuse. “Nobody wants to be on the list of the FBI or the NYPD or whatever. Muslim students want to have their own lives, their own privacy and enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities that everybody else has.”

In recent months, the AP has revealed secret programs the NYPD built with help from the CIA to monitor Muslims at the places where they eat, shop and worship. The AP also published details about how police placed undercover officers at Muslim student associations in colleges within the city limits; this revelation has outraged faculty and student groups.

Though the NYPD says it follows the same rules as the FBI, some of the NYPD’s activities go beyond what the FBI is allowed to do.

Kelly and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg repeatedly have said that the police only follow legitimate leads about suspected criminal activity.

But the latest documents mention no wrongdoing by any students.

In one report, an undercover officer describes accompanying 18 Muslim students from the City College of New York on a whitewater rafting trip in upstate New York on April 21, 2008. The officer noted the names of attendees who were officers of the Muslim Student Association.

“In addition to the regularly scheduled events (Rafting), the group prayed at least four times a day, and much of the conversation was spent discussing Islam and was religious in nature,” the report says.

Praying five times a day is one of the core traditions of Islam.

Jawad Rasul, one of the students on the trip, said he was stunned that his name was included in the police report.

“It forces me to look around wherever I am now,” Rasul said.

But another student, Ali Ahmed, whom the NYPD said appeared to be in charge of the trip, said he understood the police department’s concern.

“I can’t blame them for doing their job,” Ahmed said. “There’s lots of Muslims doing some bad things and it gives a bad name to all of us, so they have to take their due diligence.”

City College criticized the surveillance and said it was unaware the NYPD was watching students.

“The City College of New York does not accept or condone any investigation of any student organization based on the political or religious content of its ideas,” the college said in a written statement. “Absent specific evidence linking a member of the City College community to criminal activity, we do not condone this kind of investigation.”

Browne said undercover officers go wherever people they’re investigating go. There is no indication that, in the nearly four years since the report, the NYPD brought charges connecting City College students to terrorism.

Student groups were of particular interest to the NYPD because they attract young Muslim men, a demographic that terrorist groups frequently draw from. Police worried about which Muslim scholars were influencing these students and feared that extracurricular activities such as paintball outings could be used as terrorist training.

The AP first reported in October that the NYPD had placed informants or undercover officers in the Muslim Student Associations at City College, Brooklyn College, Baruch College, Hunter College, City College of New York, Queens College, La Guardia Community College and St. John’s University. All of those colleges are within the New York City limits.

A person familiar with the program, who like others insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it, said the NYPD also had a student informant at Syracuse.

Police also were interested in the Muslim student group at Rutgers, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 2009, undercover NYPD officers had a safe house in an apartment not far from campus. The operation was blown when the building superintendent stumbled upon the safe house and, thinking it was some sort of a terrorist cell, called the police emerency dispatcher.

The FBI responded and determined that monitoring Rutgers students was one of the operation’s objectives, current and former federal officials said.

The Rutgers police chief at the time, Rhonda Harris, would not discuss the fallout. In a written statement, university spokesman E.J. Miranda said: “The university was not aware of this at the time and we have nothing to add on this matter.”

Another NYPD intelligence report from Jan. 2, 2009, described a trip by three NYPD officers to Buffalo, where they met with a high-ranking member of the Erie County Sheriff’s Department and agreed “to develop assets jointly in the Buffalo area, to act as listening posts within the ethnic Somalian community.”

The sheriff’s department official noted “that there are some Somali Professors and students at SUNY-Buffalo and it would be worthwhile to further analyze that population,” the report says.

Browne said the NYPD did not follow that recommendation. A spokesman for the university, John DellaContrada, said the NYPD never contacted the administration. Sheriff’s Departments spokeswoman Mary Murray could not immediately confirm the meeting or say whether the proposal went any further.

Another report, entitled “Weekly MSA Report” and dated Nov. 22, 2006, explained that officers from the NYPD’s Cyber Intelligence unit visited the websites, blogs and forums of Muslim student associations as a “daily routine.”

The universities included Yale; Columbia; the University of Pennsylvania; Syracuse; New York University; Clarkson University; the Newark and New Brunswick campuses of Rutgers; and the State University of New York campuses in Buffalo, Albany, Stony Brook and Potsdam; Queens College, Baruch College, Brooklyn College and La Guardia Community College.

“Students who advertised events or sent emails about regular events should not be worried about a ‘terrorism file’ being kept on them. NYPD only investigated persons who we had reasonable suspicion to believe might be involved in unlawful activities,” Browne said.

But such assurances seem to offer little comfort to some former students.

One University at Buffalo student, Adeela Khan, did end up in a police report after receiving an email on Nov. 9, 2006, announcing an upcoming Islamic conference in Toronto. The email said “highly respected scholars” would be attending, but did not say who or give any details of the program. Khan says she clicked “forward,” sent it to a Yahoo chat group of fellow Muslims and promptly forgot about it.

“A couple people had gone the year prior and they said they had a really nice time, so I was just passing the information on forward. That’s really all it was,” said Khan, who has since graduated.

Khan was a board member of the Muslim Student Association at the University at Buffalo at the time. She says she never went to the conference, was not affiliated with it and had no idea who was speaking at it.

But officer Mahmood Ahmad of the NYPD’s Cyber Intelligence Unit took notice and listed Khan in his weekly report for Kelly. The officer began researching the Toronto conference and found that one of the speakers, Tariq Ramadan, had his U.S. visa revoked in 2004. The U.S. government said it was because Ramadan had given money to a Palestinian group. It reinstated his visa in 2010.

The officer’s report notes three other speakers. One, Siraj Wahaj, is a prominent but controversial New York imam who has attracted the attention of authorities for years. Prosecutors included his name on a 3 ½-page list of people they said “may be alleged as co-conspirators” in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, though he was never charged.

The other two are Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir, two of the nation’s most prominent Muslim scholars. Both have lectured at top universities in the U.S.. Yusuf met with President George W. Bush at the White House following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The post about the academic event was enough to get Khan’s name mentioned in the weekly MSA report, which was stamped “SECRET” in red letters and sent to Kelly’s office.

There is no indication that the investigation went any further, or that Khan was ever implicated in anything. But she worries about being associated with the police report.

“It’s just a waste of resources, if you ask me,” she said. “I understand why they’re doing it, but it’s just kind of like a Catch-22. I’m not the one doing anything wrong.”

The university said it was unaware its students were being monitored.

“UB does not conduct this kind of surveillance and if asked, UB would not voluntarily cooperate with such a request,” the university said in a written statement. “As a public university, UB strongly supports the values of freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of religion, and a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

The same Nov. 22, 2006, report also noted seminars announced on the websites of the Muslim student associations at New York University and Rutgers University’s campus in Newark, New Jersey.

Browne, the police department spokesman, said intelligence analysts were interested in recruiting by the Islamic Thinkers Society, a New York-based group that wants to see the United States governed under Islamic law. Morton was a leader of the group and went to Stony Brook University’s MSA to recruit students that same month.

“One thing that our open source searches were interested in determining at the time was, where do Islamic Thinkers Society go — in terms of MSAs for recruiting,” Browne said.

Yale declined comment. The University of Pennsylvania did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Other colleges on the list said they worried the monitoring infringed on students’ freedom of speech.

“Like New York City itself, American universities are admired across the globe as places that welcome a diversity of people and viewpoints. So we would obviously be concerned about anything that could chill our essential values of academic freedom or intrude on student privacy,” Columbia University spokesman Robert Hornsby said in a written statement.

Danish Munir, an alumnus adviser for the University of Pennsylvania’s Muslim Student Association, said he believes police are wasting their time by watching college students.

“What do they expect to find here?” Munir said. “These are all kids coming from rich families or good families, and they’re just trying to make a living, have a good career, have a good college experience. It’s a futile allocation of resources.”

Islamophobic Filmmakers Promote Comment Seeking To Legitimate Norway Terrorist’s Views

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2012 by loonwatch

Islamophobic Filmmakers Promote Comment Seeking To Legitimate Norway Terrorist’s Views

By Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib on Feb 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm

The Clarion Fund, an organization which produces Islamophobic documentaries, came under renewed scrutiny last month when news broke that their film “The Third Jihad” was screened at an NYPD conference. Facing calls for his resignation, NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly, after some dissembling, admitted he was interviewed for the project and apologized for his role, calling the film “inflammatory.” Clarion, however, bragged about the attention.

Now, Clarion appears to be throwing caution to the wind — along with any plausible defense that the group is not Islamophobic — by promoting a comment from a reader seeking to redeem the views of the anti-Muslim right-wing extremist who terrorized Norway this summer, killing 77, including 69 people at a youth camp. In an e-mail newsletter to supporters, Clarion Fund quoted the reader suggesting that a recent report that militant Islamic extremism posed the top threat to Norway redeemed the unheralded warnings of Anders Breivik, the anti-Muslim killer.

The newsletter, published by the organization’s radicalislam.org website, promoted the comment from a “reader in Norway.” It read:

What a hot current topic this is! Just today the news came out in Norway, “officially” and in spite of all the PC-ness of this government, that according to the national security forces, the threat of Islamist terrorism is the foremost threat against Norway. You probably remember the July 22 shootings. One of Breivik’s arguments was that the authorities were not taking this threat seriously because you musn’t offend a Muslim. Interesting development.

Clarion’s willingness to promote and publish an e-mail sympathetic to Breivik seems a bizarre move for an organization under fire for Islamophobia, especially when the comment obfuscates the bigoted point Breivik was making about Islam at-large — the very same conflation between extremism and the whole faith the Clarion Fund has repeatedly been accused of making.

Breivik’s warnings did not focus on Muslim extremism, but rather on Islam at-large. Breivik’s1,500-page manifesto is littered with comments about Islam in general, for instance arguing that the Muslim veil “should more properly be viewed as the uniform of a Totalitarian movement, and a signal to attack those outside the movement.” He called Islam a “totalitarian, racist and violent political ideology,” and said its holy book, the Koran, should be banned. Breivik’s warning was not about, as the reader wrote, “Islamist terrorism,” but about Islam:

What is likely to happen to the West, if it continues to follow its present policy of ‘political correctness’ and apathy towards the hostile teachings of Islam, [will be like] “the Islamic conquest of India…”

“In order to wake up the masses,” the soon-to-be killer wrote before attacking government offices and a political youth camp, “the only rational approach will be to make sure the current system implodes.”

Breivik went on in his manifesto to cite the writings of numerous American right-wing Islamophobes and recommended the Clarion Fund’s film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” for “further studies.” He even included a link to it.

While the Norwegian security services’ report did indeed cite Islamic-inspired extremism as the country’s top threat, that assessment actually proves Breivik’s assertion wrong: Norwegian authorities seem rather well-attuned to the serious threat posed by the few radicalized, extremist Muslims in Norway.

Despite the citations, Clarion is not, of course, responsible for Breivik’s attack. But by singling out and publishing a reader comment that whitewashed and sought to exonerate Breivik’s murderous ideology, the Clarion Fund may be tipping their hand as to how closely their views dovetail with his. (HT: Demographics United)

NYPD Document: Gather Intel Info at Shiite Mosques

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2012 by loonwatch

NYPD

This story just gets worse and worse. I doubt Muslims in New York will trust the NYPD again, it will take a long time to repair the damage:

NYPD document: Gather intel info at Shiite mosques

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department recommended increasing surveillance of thousands of Shiite Muslims and their mosques, based solely on their religion, as a way to sweep the Northeast for signs of Iranian terrorists, according to interviews and a newly obtained secret police document.

The document offers a rare glimpse into the thinking of NYPD intelligence officers and how, when looking for potential threats, they focused their spying efforts on mosques and Muslims. Police analysts listed a dozen mosques from central Connecticut to the Philadelphia suburbs. None has been linked to terrorism, either in the document or publicly by federal agencies.
The Associated Press has reported for months that the NYPD infiltrated mosques, eavesdropped in cafes and monitored Muslim neighborhoods with plainclothes officers. Its spying operations were begun after the 2001 terror attacks with help from the CIA in a highly unusual partnership.

The May 2006 NYPD intelligence report, entitled “US-Iran Conflict: The Threat to New York City,” made a series of recommendations, including: “Expand and focus intelligence collections at Shi’a mosques.”

The NYPD is prohibited under its own guidelines and city law from basing its investigations on religion. Under FBI guidelines, which the NYPD says it follows, many of the recommendations in the police document would be prohibited.

The report, drawn largely from information available in newspapers or sites like Wikipedia, was prepared for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. It was written at a time of great tension between the U.S. and Iran. That tension over Iran’s nuclear ambition has increased again recently.

Police estimated the New York area Shiite population to be about 35,000, with Iranians making up about 8,500. The document also calls for canvassing the Palestinian community because there might be terrorists there.

“The Palestinian community, although not Shi’a, should also be assessed due to presence of Hamas members and sympathizers and the group’s relationship with the Iranian government,” analysts wrote.

The secret document stands in contrast to statements by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said the NYPD never considers religion in its policing. Kelly has said police go only where investigative leads take them, but the document described no leads to justify expanded surveillance at Shiite mosques.

The document also renews debate over how the NYPD privately views Muslims. Kelly has faced calls for his resignation recently from some Muslim activists for participating in a video that says Muslims want to “infiltrate and dominate” the United States. The NYPD showed the video to nearly 1,500 officers during training.

Documents previously obtained by the AP show widespread NYPD infiltration of mosques. It’s not clear, however, whether the May 2006 report prompted police to infiltrate the mosques on the list. One former police official who has seen the report said that, generally, the recommendations were followed but he could not say for sure whether these mosques were infiltrated.

A current law enforcement official, also familiar with the report, said that since it was issued the NYPD learned that Hezbollah was more political than religious and concluded that it’s not effective to monitor Shiites.

Both insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the program.
Neither David Cohen, the NYPD’s top intelligence officer, nor department spokesman Paul Browne responded to emails or phone calls from The Associated Press this week.
Iran is an overwhelmingly Shiite country, but Shiites are a small percentage of the U.S. Muslim population. By contrast, al-Qaida is a Sunni organization and many U.S. leaders consider Shiite clerics as allies in the fight against homegrown extremism. Shiites are often oppressed overseas and many have sought asylum in the West.

The document is dated just weeks after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Congress that, “We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran.”
Even now, the U.S. remains particularly concerned with Iran, not only because of its nuclear research but also because intelligence officials don’t believe they know how Iranian sympathizers inside the United States would respond if the two countries went to war. By far, the largest group of Iranians in the U.S. lives in or around Los Angeles. Yet the NYPD, with a smaller Iranian population that police estimated at about 8,500 in New York City, shared the concerns about reactions to an open military conflict.

Asad Sadiq, president of the Bait-ul-Qaim mosque in the Philadelphia suburb of Delran, N.J., said the NYPD was being unfairly broad.

“If you attack Cuba, are all the Catholics going to attack here? This is called guilt by association,” Sadiq, a dentist, said after seeing his mosque in the NYPD document. “Just because we are the same religion doesn’t mean we’re going to stand up and harm the United States. It’s really absurd.”

The AP showed the document to several veteran counterterrorism analysts. None said they had seen anything like it.

“It’s really problematic if you make a jump from a possible international conflict to saying therefore we need to monitor Shiite mosques writ large,” said Brian Fishman, the former research director at West Point’s Combatting Terrorism Center. “It doesn’t follow.”

For instance, the NYPD analysts focused much of the report on the Alavi Foundation, a New York nonprofit group that the federal government has since accused of being secretly controlled by the Iranian government. Analysts then looked at a mosque where Alavi members prayed and that police say may have been linked to an effort to buy information about rocket technology for Iran.

There is no explanation, however, for how those suspicions warranted expanding surveillance to other Shiite mosques, including those far outside the department’s jurisdiction in Connecticut and New Jersey.

“Any time that you begin to isolate certain communities from a policing perspective because you think there’s risk, you have the potential that somebody overreaches,” said Robert Riegle, a former Department of Homeland Security analyst who oversaw efforts to work with state and local agencies.

At the Al-Mahdi Foundation mosque in Brooklyn, worshippers intoned their prayers Wednesday while touching their foreheads to disks of clay on the floor, a Shiite tradition.
“After 1,400 years, the Shias are being targeted in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, everywhere,” imam Malik Sakhawat Hussain said after being told that his mosque was in the NYPD document. “If U.S. authorities become suspicious of the Shias, I would say we are a very oppressed community of the world.”

At the Masjid Al-Rahman, a prayer hall in the basement of a Brooklyn apartment building, manager Abo Maher was surprised to see his mosque on the NYPD’s list of Shiite locations.
“This isn’t even Shia,” he said. “Their information is wrong.”

The police department’s Demographics Unit, the secretive squad of plainclothes officers used to monitor restaurants, social clubs and other gathering spots, found similar issues in Iranian neighborhoods, one former NYPD official recalled.

Muslims make up only a fraction of New York’s Iranian community so squad members returned from their rounds in Iranian neighborhoods and reported finding Jews and Christians, the former official said.

Sadiq, the New Jersey mosque president, said about 250 families — mostly Pakistanis and Indians and few Iraqis — attend his mosque. Every few years, he said, an FBI agent stops by, introduces himself and asks whether there’s been any radical rhetoric in his mosque and whether he knows anyone with connections to Iran. The most recent meeting was just Wednesday, he said, and the NYPD would be welcome if it came openly.

The intelligence unit operates in secrecy with little outside oversight. The City Council is not told about secret intelligence programs. And though the unit operates under the auspices of a federal anti-drug task force and receives federal money, it is not overseen by Congress. The Obama administration, including the Justice Department, has repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether it endorses the NYPD’s tactics.

“They think that they can do whatever they want and get away with it,” Sadiq said.
The document also suggests a broader international intelligence mission than the department has previously acknowledged. The NYPD has officers stationed in 11 foreign cities such as London, Paris, Madrid, and Tel Aviv, where they work with local police and act as the NYPD’s eyes and ears overseas.

In their recommendations for the foreign liaison unit, analysts wrote that officers should: “Focus international intelligence collection on the Iranian threat, to include the activities of the IIS, Hezbollah, Hamas etc. throughout Europe and the Middle East.”

NYPD officers abroad are not supposed to be spies and do not answer to the U.S. director of national intelligence or the CIA station chiefs who coordinate America’s efforts to gather intelligence on Iran. In fact, the NYPD’s international officers aren’t even paid by the department. Rather, the program is paid for through a nonprofit foundation that raises money from corporate donors.

It has not previously been known that the NYPD would consider gathering overseas intelligence on Iranian intelligence services. The police department does not disclose details about the inner workings of the international program to the City Council, to Congress or to U.S. intelligence agencies.

Raphael Shore: Director of Clarion Fund’s “Third Jihad” Upset NYPD Won’t Be Showing His Anti-Muslim Movie

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2012 by loonwatch
Raphael_ShoreRaphael Shore

It was revealed in January 2011 that the NYPD was using an anti-Muslim documentary entitled “The Third Jihad” in its counter terror training courses. At the time “a top police official denied it, then said it had been mistakenly screened ‘a couple of times’ for a few officers.”

It turns out that the police official was lying, it had been screened for thousands of police officers:

A year later, police documents obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Law reveal a different reality: “The Third Jihad,” which includes an interview with Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, was shown, according to internal police reports, “on a continuous loop” for between three months and one year of training.

During that time, at least 1,489 police officers, from lieutenants to detectives to patrol officers, saw the film.

We exposed the Third Jihad way back in 2009 when it was first released! We clearly laid out the facts: (1) Clarion Fund is an arm of Aish HaTorah, an Israeli advocacy and educational organization:

According to the Delaware Department of Corporations, Robert (Rabbi Raphael) Shore, Rabbi Henry Harris and Rebecca Kabat incorporated Clarion Fund. All three of whom are reported to serve as employees of Aish HaTorah International.

(2) Clarion Fund’s free mass distribution of the anti-Muslim movie, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War on the West (also directed by Shore) a few months prior to the 2008 presidential election was an attempt to sway the election in John McCain’s favor:

Unless you were sleeping in a cave during the 2008 Presidential election you’re probably aware that the mysterious Clarion Fund is the same organization that distributed 28 Million DVD’s of their controversial film Obsession, which compares Islam to Nazism, in newspapers in swing states across America.

The movie was widely discredited for its cast of radical and extreme pundits, some of whom (Daniel PipesBrigitte Gabriel, Walid ShoebatSteven Emerson) we have featured on LoonWatch.  As our articles showed, these Islamophobes have a history of bigoted and derogatory statements regarding Muslims and Islam.

The film itself was compared to Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 pro-Nazi film Triumph of the Will. Broward-Palm Beach New Times called it “misleading and dangerous.” Jeff VanDenBerg, director of Middle East Studies at Drury University, called the film “a blatant piece of anti-Muslim propaganda.”

During the campaign to distribute Obsession, news reports at the time quickly revealed that their main motivation was to shift the focus during the Presidential election from the Economy to the issue of National Security, the area in which John McCain led in polls.

Shore and his cohorts efforts failed as they over-reached in their attempt to paint the radical-stealth-Islamic boogeyman menace to America as similar to Nazism during WWII. They changed tactic with the Third Jihad and attempted to redirect the hate, though they only offered a thin vanilla (Zuhdi Jasser) covering for the bigotry that is clearly all over the film:

Third Jihad paints a picture of a nefarious plot by a cabal that includes all mainstream Muslim organizations to take over and dominate America. The movie, reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, centers around the purported discovery of a document describing a strategic secret plot by Muslims to undermine Democracy and replace it with Sharia’ laws.

The recent exposes in the mainstream media showing that thousands of NYPD officers have watched the anti-Muslim films, coupled with Ray Kelly himself being interviewed in the film has caused much embarrassment to the NYPD, which is already suffering from poor relations with the Muslim community. The NYPD and Ray Kelly have apologized, (Kelly now calls the movie “inflammatory”), but many are calling for Kelly to be fired.

In a press release Raphael Shore complained about his anti-Muslim film being dumped from the training of NYPD officers:

“We regret that the film has been taken out of the counterterrorism training program of the NYPD.  The New York Times stories are proof positive that the Clarion Fund’s high-quality and impactful documentaries touch very sensitive nerves.

“Those that have blasted the film are attempting to stifle an important debate about the internal state of the Muslim community in America, and whether politicized Islam and indoctrination pose tangible security threats.

Yes, Raphael is concerned with the “internal state of the Muslim community in America”/sarcasm. He’s as concerned about it as Pamela Geller is no doubt. The truth is Raphael, your hate work on Islam is no longer going to get a free pass. People can see the nexus that aligns Right-Wing Islamophobes abroad and at home and they are tired of it.

The Truth About ‘The Third Jihad’:

The Third Jihad is essentially an updated and reconfigured version of Obsession or as some have called it “Obsession on steroids.” Instead of the overt comparisons of Islam with Nazism, or of a cosmic battle between good and evil, the object this time is to warn against a threat they term  “Cultural Jihad” carried out from within by American Muslims.

In Third Jihad, just as in Obsession, there is the cliche disclaimer at the start of the film that the movie is not about the vast majority of Muslims who are peaceful, yet in Third Jihad just as in Obsession, the rest of the film quickly and completely trumps what becomes an empty disclaimer.  Both films fail to make consistent distinctions between Islam and Radical Islamism, and at times conflate the two.  As the IPS (Inter Press Service) notes:

Radical Muslims, by having children, spreading their faith, and ensuring their ability to practice Islam as they see fit, are working a ‘demographic jihad’ in which they see themselves emerging as a majority and making Islam the dominant religion of the U.S. – eventually to take over the nation altogether – contend Jasser and the films creators.

But that prospect seems unlikely in the U.S., where Muslim Americans are generally regarded as well-assimilated and not radicalised.

The film itself also contains inconsistencies in terms of differentiating between Islam and radical Islam.

For example, the graphic that the film used to demonstrate the spread of an Islamic state across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe used a tiled picture of a green crescent with a star between its points. The crescent and star are the symbol of Islam in general.

The documentary was produced by the Clarion Fund, a U.S.-based non-profit that was embroiled in controversy last year when it distributed its last movie, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” to nearly 30 million homes in the ‘swing states’ that normally decide U.S. presidential elections.

Its 501(c)(3) status as non-profit means the group is legally exempt from paying taxes and is prohibited from involvement in electoral politics.

IPS investigations also tied the production and distribution of “Obsession” to right-wing Israeli groups and U.S.-based neoconservatives.

The central focus of the film is the purported discovery of a document which claims Muslim organizations are seeking to “destroy” the West from within and replace Democracy with Islamic law worldwide. This ploy is similar to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion which is a tract alleging a Jewish and Masonic plot to achieve world domination. Purportedly written by a secret group of Jews known as the Elders of Zion, the document underlies 24 protocols that are supposedly followed by the Jewish people.

The movie also suffers from a lack of credibility with most of the pundits it chooses to interview.  For example one of the pundits is Tawfiq Hamid (!) who is labeled an ex-terrorist. Tawfiq’s story is not corroborated by any independent sources, he has also made blatant statements describing Muslims as terrorists and Islam as evil. On the Orla Barry Show he stated, “the majority of Muslim are all passive terrorists. They believe in this evil. They support it either by money or emotionally they are not against it.” He is also featured on radical Islamophobe Walid Shoebat’s website  and has appeared with him on talk shows and other venues.

This hate movie is available online and its central protagonist is Zuhdi Jasser who is also the narrator of the film. Jasser is cast as an all American hero, clips of him having moments with his family are reminiscent of episodes out of Full House, complete with sentimental  muzak equivalent to the quality one hears in elevators. Jasser is the lone American Muslim (all the others are either “scared” or “silent”) standing up against radicals. He is the “moderate” who is seeking to reform Islam while at the same time save America from the ignored threat of “homegrown radical Muslims.”

Is Jasser an unbiased chronicler of American Islam, and is he the right advocate to counter radical Muslims?

Considering his radical associations and partisan attachment to the far right wing of the Republican party, the answers are no.

As Richard Silverstein writes, “To put it plain and simple, Jasser is a Muslim neocon.” He created a 501c3 designated organization AIFD (American Islamic forum for Democracy) whose agenda is a “barely concealed” form of radical Republicanism. 501c3 designated organizations are not allowed to meddle in partisan politics.

Jasser has himself publicly participated in the political process. In this endorsement of a far-right pro-Israel Colorado Republican legislative candidate, he strangely takes aim at the candidate’s Republican American Muslim opponent:

“A brief word about Mr. Sharf’s primary opponent. Mrs. Rima Barakat Sinclair has no apparent record, prior to this election of…any traditional conservative issues. Previously, her sole political agenda seems to have been anti-Israel activism. Her candidacy seems to be more a product of Islamist politics than of ideas central to conservative American principles and activism. Sadly, candidates out of this mold, who conflate the Israeli-Palestinian crisis with their Islamic identity actually harm more than they help the genuine pluralistic advancement of American Muslims. Most Muslims are actually quite diverse in their domestic and foreign policy politics and do not accept the collectivist agenda of political Islam (Islamism).”

It is certainly no accident that Sinclair’s opponent, Joshua Scharf, is a right-wing pro-Israel militant.

In this National Review interview, Jasser enthusiastically promotes a Republican agenda:

“Lopez: Do you like what you’re hearing out of any of the presidential candidates?

Jasser: (First a necessary caveat – the following is my personal opinion only and in no way that of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy).

Yes, I think most of the Republican presidential field is much more honest than the Democrats in articulating the real stakes in this war of ideas of the free world versus the Islamists. While most of the Republican candidates are in the right anti-Islamist arena, only a few have been able to articulate it clearly enough and with enough candor to get my attention. I am far from making up my mind on a candidate yet, but am encouraged by a lot of what I see from some of the candidates.

I am most heartened by what I am hearing from Rudy Guliani’s campaign, with Governor Mitt Romney very close behind in my mind. Mayor Guliani understands the toxicity of the Saudis and their Wahhabis…He is not afraid to articulate the conflict in ideas between Western freedom and Islamist theocracy…He names our enemies by name, and is not afraid to stand for principle and substance in foreign policy over diplomatic platitudes (i.e. against the Saudis, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood), and other Islamists.

Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign has also demonstrated a willingness to mince no words when discussing the ideologies we are facing. He identifies jihadists as our enemies and uses his important position of national and global leadership to clearly frame the debate as one between the ideology of Islamism (Caliphism, jihadism, and theocracy) versus freedom.

…John McCain’s articulation of the stakes in the Iraq war has always been very impressive, and I hope that other candidates can look to his clarity on the issue as an example of principle.”

His disclaimer is a laugh since the group’s website lists him as founder and president. Only one other individual is listed on the entire website as a staff member of the group. No board members are listed (though he refers to the existence of one). So Jasser IS AIF. If Jasser is a right-wing Republican, so is AIF. Which makes a 501c3 designation problematic.

Jasser is also a member of the Middle East Forum created and ran by neo-con Daniel Pipes as well as “the pro-Israel and neocon Committee on the Present Danger. He has spoken before the Hudson Institute. He writes for Family Security MattersMiddle East Quarterly, and other far-right websites.”  If this doesn’t give you a hint about the agenda that drives Jasser and the purpose of this film nothing will.

Ana and Cenk do a better and more succinct job in eviscerating Third Jihad and the NYPD’s attempted cover-up:

New York Muslims Refuse to Attend Mayor Bloomberg’s Breakfast with Bagels

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2011 by loonwatch
The letter said Michael Bloomberg had 'defended the NYPD misconduct'. Photograph: Henny Ray Abrams/Reuters The letter said Michael Bloomberg had ‘defended the NYPD misconduct’. Photograph: Henny Ray Abrams/Reuters

New York Muslims to snub Bloomberg breakfast in surveillance protest

A group of prominent Muslim figures in New York City have said they will boycott an annual meeting on Friday with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in order to protest against police surveillance of their communities.

Bloomberg is scheduled to hold a multi-faith “Bagels with Bloomberg” breakfast with religious leaders from across the city on Friday morning, but the group has written to the mayor’s office outlining their reasons for refusing to attend.

In particular, the group says it is outraged at details that emerged earlier this year of a concerted effort by the New York police department to monitor activities of Muslims in New York. A series of reports by the Associated Press detailed the activities of a unit within the NYPD, called the Demographics Unit, that monitored daily life in Muslim communities, including eavesdropping in businesses and infiltrating mosques.

“According to the investigation, the police department monitored and collected information on New Yorkers at about 250 mosques, schools, and businesses throughout the city, simply because of their religion and not because they exhibited suspicious behavior,” the letter said.

It added: “Mayor Bloomberg, the extent of these civil rights violations is astonishing, yet instead of calling for accountability and the rule of law, you have thus far defended the NYPD’s misconduct. We, on the other hand, believe that such measures threaten the rights of all Americans, and deepen mistrust between our communities and law enforcement.”

The letter was signed by 15 prominent Muslim New Yorkers, including Khaled Lamada, head of the Muslim American Society, Omar Mohammedi, president of the Association of Muslim American Lawyers, Aisha al-Adawiya, founder of Women in Islam, and Iman Al Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, who president of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York.

Another signatory, Linda Sarsour, the director of the Arab-American Association of New York, told the Guardian that the AP reports had confirmed her worst fears. “This confirmed what we already knew. It gave validity to our concerns that we are being spied upon just because of our religion. That undermines the security of all New Yorkers,” Sarsour said.

Sarsour added that lawsuits against the NYPD were being considered in the wake of the AP investigation, and called for an independent inquiry into the activities of the department when it came to monitoring Muslim communities.

So far, that call has fallen on deaf ears. Senior police figures have denied that they targeted Muslim communities in general, claiming they only followed leads. Bloomberg has also strongly and consistently backed the city’s police department and its tactics.

An investigation by the CIA had looked at its role in helping the NYPD and recently concluded no wrongdoing had taken place.

But Sarsour remained unsatisfied.

“How can someone from the CIA be the one to investigate the CIA? We are asking for an independent investigation,” she said, saying it should be carried out by the Department of Justice or a Congressional committee.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office downplayed the impact of the letter and the boycott, saying that other Muslim leaders were still planning on attending the breakfast gathering. “We have a couple dozen Muslim community leaders who have RSVP-ed that they will be at the breakfast, which is about the same as previous years,” said Stu Loeser.

NYPD officials also weighed into the spat, saying that the AP story had exaggerated its activities. “The NYPD lawfully follows leads in terrorist-related investigations and does not engage in the kind of wholesale spying on communities that was false alleged,” said Paul Browne, an NYPD deputy commissioner.

But the revelations about the Demographics Unit are not the only controversy surrounding NYPD actions around Muslim Americans and terrorism. An NYPD operation last month arrested a suspected “lone wolf” terrorist in the shape of New Yorker Jose Pimentel. NYPD officials hailed the arrest, which occurred after a lengthy undercover operation that saw an NYPD informant supply Pimental with bomb-making equipment, as a major triumph.

However, it later emerged that the FBI had passed on co-operating on the case, because it believed the target was not a viable threat. That has led to accusations that the NYPD “entrapped” Pimental.

Kelly on Muslim Spying: Who, Us?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , on November 24, 2011 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from HuffPo)

By Len Levitt

On the day the city’s Muslims staged their first organized protest against the NYPD’s secret and pervasive spying on their communities, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly denied the obvious.

At an unrelated news conference, Kelly told reporters that he “categorically denied” the idea that the NYPD was spying.

His disingenuous, if not ridiculous, comment came on Friday when about 500 Muslims rallied at Foley Square, holding signs that read: “No to a Police State.” “Muslims Demand Equal Rights.” “NYPD Watches Us. Who Watches the NYPD?” “NYPD-CIA Stalking Our Children.”

Speakers tied their grievances to those of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, black Americans and sometimes stigmatized Jews — an indication that the Muslims had yet to find their unique voice.

As for Commissioner Kelly, perhaps he never read the police document entitled “NYPD Intelligence Division Strategic Posture 2006.” The document is marked “secret” and on its front page reads: “DISTRIBUTION: NYPD POLICE COMMISSIONER.”

Well, NYPD Confidential and the Associated Press have read it.

In a half-dozen articles, the AP detailed how the department infiltrated mosques, Muslim schools and Islamic student groups at the city universities; how plainclothes officers catalogued Middle Eastern restaurants and their clientele; and how NYPD analysts built databases on Arab cab drivers and monitored Muslims who changed their names.

Significantly, all those stories were written from Washington, D.C. Not one New York newspaper has pursued the AP’s findings.

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the need to establish an independent commission with subpoena power to investigate what some call the NYPD’s “culture of corruption.”

But none of the talk has concerned a more pernicious problem: the department’s secret spying and its alliance with the CIA.

Under Kelly, this alliance began in January 2002, four months after 9/11, with the hiring of David Cohen, a former high-ranking CIA official, to head the NYPD’s revamped Intelligence Division.

Next came the CIA’s Larry Sanchez, who became an Assistant NYPD Commissioner in the Intelligence Division and orchestrated the Muslim spying operation.

This spying apparently led to the conclusions contained in a 2007 NYPD report, “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat.” (See NYPD Confidential column of Aug. 20, 2007.)

The 90-page report, with 143 footnotes, concluded that homegrown terrorists posed a greater threat to New York City than Al Qaeda overseas.

“The city’s Muslim communities have been permeated by extremists who have and continue to sow the seeds of radicalization,” the report said. “Radicalization is indiscriminate and those attracted to it include New York City citizens from all walks of life.”

Sanchez, meanwhile, before the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security in 2007 said that “rather than just protecting New York City citizens from terrorists, the NYPD believes that part of its mission is to protect New York citizens from turning into terrorists.”

Then came psychiatrist Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer in Pakistan, who in 2008 became the NYPD’s touted “scholar in residence.”

To pay his salary for the year, the department told the AP that it used funds from a “a private foundation.”

In fact, the money came from a secret foundation the NYPD had created in 2006 called the “NYPD Counter-Terrorism Foundation.”

Its president was Stephen Hammerman, then the department’s Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs.

Its secretary was Kelly’s Chief of Staff Joe Wuench. [See NYPD Confidential column of November 7, 2011: “The NYPD’s ‘Privately’ Funded War on Terrorism.”]

The foundation raised $295,000 and paid Sageman $180,000. The public does not know who its donors are and the foundation has not specifically accounted for the remaining $115,000. Kelly has never acknowledged the foundation’s existence.

Sanchez left the NYPD last year. Another CIA agent replaced him. In deference to the CIA’s wishes, NYPD Confidential is withholding his name. The NYPD has never acknowledged his appointment.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Michael Powell: Police Eyes Hovering Over Muslims

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by loonwatch

NYPD

“In our society, government is supposed to be public and you’re supposed to have a private life,” Moustafa Bayoumi, an English professor at Brooklyn College, said. “We’ve flipped that on its head.”

Police Eyes Hovering Over Muslims

By MICHAEL POWELL (NewYorkTimes)

Hello to you, and to whoever might be spying on us tonight.

This is how some Muslim New Yorkers have grown accustomed to opening meetings, on campus and at mosques from Steinway Street in Queens to Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Their assumption is that someone is always listening for hints of frustration and anger and disloyalty.

And that the listener works for the New York Police Department.

“In our society, government is supposed to be public and you’re supposed to have a private life,” Moustafa Bayoumi, an English professor at Brooklyn College, said. “We’ve flipped that on its head.”

The temptation is to dismiss such fears as post-9/11 paranoia. But The Associated Press, in a startling series, and the dependable Leonard Levitt, who writes the NYPD Confidential Web site, have put substantial meat on the bone of these suspicions.

They found that undercover officers, known as rakers, infiltrated hundreds of mosques; that a secret demographic unit compiled extensive dossiers on where Muslim New Yorkers eat, work, type on computers and transfer money to relatives; and that even imams who worked closely and courageously with the police have found themselves spied on and listed as “suspects.”

The Police Department’s reach extends to India, Pakistan and the Middle East, and less exotically to New Jersey, where undercover police cells have taken roost. And the department works with the F.B.I. and, more controversially, the C.I.A. in a way that sounds less fraternal than like a blood marriage.

Recently, the C.I.A. sent what The A.P. described as “one of its most senior clandestine officers” to work at One Police Plaza. It is highly unusual and troubling for the C.I.A. to work so closely with a police department.

So how should we parse these deeply unsettling findings? We live in an age of moral murk. It is to diminish none of the power of The A.P.’s work to acknowledge that some revelations fall into moral shadow rather than a Manichean play of pitch darkness and light.

Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly vibrates with certitude. He watched those towers transformed into calamitous clouds of dust. He learned of profound federal intelligence failures and bristles with a determination not to go there again.

“We’re paid to think the unthinkable,” Mr. Kelly told the City Council at a hearing 11 days ago. “We want to know how individuals traveling here communicate and conceal themselves. We go where the leads take us.”

I get that. The word “if” dominated our lives for many months after 9/11. Shortly afterward, my wife and I decided not to send our son to a fine public middle school in Lower Manhattan, for fear of having him too far removed from our Brooklyn home if. …

And I have felt a bubbling up of impatience with some religious leaders. The Al Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn was briefly home to the Blind Sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman, who helped plot the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, and since then other radicals are reported to have passed through. Does anyone there tend the door?

Councilman Brad Lander is one of those wrestling thoughtfully with such questions. But as he put pointed questions to Mr. Kelly at the hearing, the answers were illuminating in not terribly comforting ways.

It sounds, Mr. Lander said, as if you’re engaged in religious and ethnic profiling.

The commissioner shrugged. “I wouldn’t believe everything that I read,” he replied.

This fell well short of candor, which is unfortunate at a time when the police brass ask us to give them something like blind trust in their intentions. Afterward, an A.P. reporter asked, point-blank, Can you point to specific factual inaccuracies in our reporting?

And the commissioner replied: No.

This pattern recurs. Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman, has a tendency to emphatically deny what has certifiably happened, whether the spying on and locking up of demonstrators for days at the Republican National Convention, or these recent revelations.

Credibility is like sand flowing through an hourglass. It runs out.

Professor Bayoumi rides subways and elevators and understands terrible possibilities. “I understand there need to be investigations,” he said. “But to base it on religious beliefs and what someone says at a meeting, rather than on actual leads …”

He paused, frustrated. “It weakens the bonds in a community and corrodes trust. Is that useful?”

E-mail: powellm@nytimes.com

NYPD Spying on Mosques, Muslim Restaurants, and Muslim Students

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2011 by loonwatch

As someone with anti-establishment and anti-authority views, it is no surprise that I’ve been (and still am) highly critical of the military, the CIA, and the FBI for some time now.  Now I’m adding the police to that list.  I’m critical of police brutality, the racism that runs rife through the force, the heavy-handed tactics they use, and their lack of transparency.  And now there’s this: the NYPD caught spying on Muslims, including college-going students.

What perfectly encapsulates the National Security State is the police illegally spying on citizenry on the one hand (in violation of the Fourth Amendment) while on the other hand working hard to prohibit citizens from taping police officers in public doing their job (a denial of our First Amendment right).  Those in authority have the right to know what websites you browse on the internet in the confines of your bedroom while you have no right to know anything about those in authority even when it directly affects you.

The targets of the National Security State are first and foremost Muslims, who are at the bottom of America’s totem pole.  In any case, here is the article from The Associated Press:

By Adam Goldman, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department compiled lists of mosques and Muslim businesses it saw as potential security risks for reasons that included endorsing conservative religious views or having devout customers, according to hundreds of pages of internal police documents newly obtained by The Associated Press.

The records reveal the extent of an undercover effort that initially studied more than 250 mosques in New York and New Jersey and identified hundreds more “hot spots” in a hunt for terrorists. Many showed obvious signs of criminal behavior, but the police explanations for targeting others were less clear.

A Bangladeshi restaurant, for instance, was identified as a hot spot for having a “devout crowd.” The restaurant was noted for being a “popular meeting location for political activities.”

The documents obtained by the AP, many of which were marked secret, paint the clearest picture yet of how the past decade’s hunt for terrorists also put huge numbers of innocent people under scrutiny as they went about their daily lives in mosques, restaurants and social groups. Every day, undercover officers and informants filed reports from their positions as “listening posts” inside Muslim communities.

At the White House, where President Barack Obama recently urged local authorities not to cast suspicion on entire communities, spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment Tuesday on whether it endorsed the tactics outlined in the NYPD documents.

An AP investigation last month revealed that the department maintains a list of “ancestries of interest” that it uses to focus its clandestine efforts. A secret team known as the Demographics Unit then dispatched plainclothes officers into the community to eavesdrop in cafes and chat up business owners.

That effort has benefited from federal money and an unusually close relationship with the CIA, one that at times blurred the lines between domestic and foreign intelligence-gathering.

After identifying more than 250 area mosques, police officials determined the “ethnic orientation, leadership and group affiliations,” according to the 2006 police documents. Police also used informants and teams of plainclothes officers, known as rakers, to identify mosques requiring further scrutiny, according to an official involved in that effort, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the program.

Armed with that information, police then identified 53 “mosques of concern” and placed undercover officers and informants there, the documents show.

Many of those mosques were flagged for allegations of criminal activity, such as alien smuggling, financing Hamas or money laundering. Others were identified for having ties to Salafism, a hardline movement preaching a strict version of Islamic law. Still others were identified for what the documents refer to as “rhetoric.”

Other reasons are less clear.

Two mosques, for instance, were flagged for having ties to Al-Azhar, the 1,000-year-old Egyptian mosque that is the pre-eminent institute of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world. Al-Azhar was one of the first religious institutions to condemn the 2001 terrorist attacks. President George W. Bush’s close adviser, Karen Hughes, visited Al-Azhar in 2005 and applauded its courage.

Al-Azhar was also a sponsor of Obama’s 2009 speech reaching out to the Muslim world.

The list of mosques where undercover agents or informants operated includes ones that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has visited and that area officials have mentioned as part of the region’s strong ties to the Muslim community. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stood beside leaders of some mosques on the list as allies in fighting terrorism.

The documents are a series of internal presentations, including one prepared for Kelly. Following the AP’s reporting, they were provided to the AP and veteran New York police reporter Leonard Levitt, who runs the website NYPDConfidential.com. Because the list of mosques is so long and explanation for the surveillance is so limited, the AP is not identifying the individual mosques that were under surveillance.

An NYPD spokesman did return messages seeking comment Monday, a holiday, and again Tuesday. The police department has said it follows leads and does not trawl entire neighborhoods.

New York police identified 263 “hot spots” throughout the city, the documents show. Like the mosques, the examples of hot spots ranged from businesses that sold untaxed cigarettes and where inflammatory rhetoric was overheard to those with less obvious criminal connections.

The example of the Bangladeshi restaurant flagged for its “devout” clientele further undercuts Bloomberg’s claim that the NYPD does not take religion into account in its policing. Last week the AP revealed that the NYPD maintained a list of “ancestries of interest” that included “American Black Muslim,” which is a religion, not an ancestry.

Police also kept tabs on seven of the area’s Muslim student associations, defined in the documents as “a university-based student group, with an Islamic focus, involved with religious and political activities.” Two were flagged for having Salafi speakers. One was cited for having students who are “politically active and are radicalizing.”

Since the AP reports, several Muslim civil rights groups and a New York congresswoman have urged the Justice Department to investigate the NYPD for what critics see as racial profiling. Under U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department has stepped up investigations of local police departments for possible civil rights violations, but none involves national security cases.

Apuzzo and Goldman can be reached at dcinvestigations(at)ap.org or at http://twitter.com/mattapuzzo and http://twitter.com/goldmandc

With CIA help, NYPD built secret effort to monitor mosques, daily life of Muslim neighborhoods

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on August 29, 2011 by loonwatch

NYPD

With CIA help, NYPD built secret effort to monitor mosques, daily life of Muslim neighborhoods

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Police Department has become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government, an Associated Press investigation has found.

The operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying.

The department has dispatched undercover officers, known as “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They’ve monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing.

Neither the city council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which has given NYPD more than $1.6 billion since 9/11, is told exactly what’s going on.

Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD’s intelligence unit.

A veteran CIA officer, while still on the agency’s payroll, was the architect of the NYPD’s intelligence programs. The CIA trained a police detective at the Farm, the agency’s spy school in Virginia, then returned him to New York, where he put his new espionage skills to work inside the United States.

And just last month, the CIA sent a senior officer to work as a clandestine operative inside police headquarters.

The NYPD denied that it trolls ethnic neighborhoods and said it only follows leads. Police operations have disrupted terrorist plots and put several would-be killers in prison.

“The New York Police Department is doing everything it can to make sure there’s not another 9/11 here and that more innocent New Yorkers are not killed by terrorists,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. “And we have nothing to apologize for in that regard.” AP’s investigation is based on documents and interviews with more than 40 current and former New York Police Department and federal officials. Many were directly involved in planning and carrying out these secret operations for the department. Though most said the tactics were appropriate and made the city safer, many insisted on anonymity, because they were not authorized to speak with reporters about security matters.

In response to the story, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading Muslim civil rights organization, called on the Justice Department to investigate. The Justice Department said Wednesday night it would review the request.

“This is potentially illegal what they’re doing,” said Gadeir Abbas, a staff attorney with the organization.

After the terrorist attacks, New York hired retired CIA official David Cohen to transform its intelligence division.

Among Cohen’s earliest moves at the NYPD was asking for help from his old CIA colleagues. He needed someone who had access to the latest intelligence so the NYPD wouldn’t have to rely on the FBI to dole out information.

CIA Director George Tenet dispatched Larry Sanchez, a respected CIA veteran, to New York while Sanchez was still on the CIA payroll, three former intelligence officials said. Sanchez directed and mentored officers, schooling them in the art of gathering information, officials said.

There had never been an arrangement like it, and some senior CIA officials soon began questioning whether Tenet was allowing Sanchez to operate on both sides of the wall that’s supposed to keep the CIA out of the domestic intelligence business.

Read the rest…

NYPD’s Muslim Horror Flick Sparks Outcry

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , on January 24, 2011 by loonwatch

Did Spencer sneak into the room or something?

NYPD’s Muslim Horror Flick Sparks Outcry

A major city Islamic organization is putting a few tough questions to the NYPD about how a loony Muslim-bashing movie came to be shown to city cops, as reported in this week’s Voice.

“Our nation’s battle against terrorism is only made more difficult whenever security officers are taught to view all Muslims, and the faith of Islam itself, with suspicion,” saidCouncil on American-Islamic Relations-New York Board President Zead Ramadan. “We call on Commissioner Kelly to order an internal probe of how this propaganda film came to be used and to put policies in place to ensure that NYPD training is not biased by agenda-driven materials — or trainers — targeting any religious or minority community.”

Ramadan said he has asked for a meeting with NYPD officials to find out how cops came to view “The Third Jihad” — a blood-splattered 72-minute feature suggesting that even moderate Muslims are engaged in a conspiracy to put America under radical Islamic rule. The Voice asked police officials the same question after a cop complained that he and others undergoing anti-terror training were made to sit through the film this month at a police training facility in Coney Island.

Deputy police commissioner Paul Browne initially said the film had never been shown to cops, but later confirmed that the movie was shown at least twice. The screenings were a mistake, Browne said.

Makers of the movie, a secretive right-wing nonprofit group called the Clarion Fund, are still ducking their own questions about how they got so lucky to get their flick screened by impressionable young law enforcement officers.