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Angry over spying, Muslims say: ‘Don’t call NYPD’
Question of the Day
“When they do, these kinds of programs are actually counterproductive, because they undermine trust and drive a wedge between the community and police,” said Borelli, now a security consultant with the Soufan Group.
Since the 2001 terror attacks, the NYPD, city government officials and federal law enforcement have spent years building relationships with the New York Muslim community, assuring many Muslims that they are considered partners in the city’s fight against terrorism. But in some cases, community members who have been hailed as partners and even dined with Mayor Michael Bloomberg were secretly followed by the NYPD or worked in mosques that the department had infiltrated, according to secret NYPD documents obtained by the AP.
“There’s not a reference here to the fact that New York is the No. 1 target of Islamic terrorists, that the NYPD and the FBI have protected New York,” King said, referring to one of the recent brochures about detecting police informants.
King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has held a series of hearings about the threat of radicalization within American Muslim communities and the level of cooperation members of the community provide to law enforcement. Muslim and civil rights advocacy groups have decried the hearings and pointed to terror cases around the country in which members of the Muslim community helped law enforcement foil plots.
New York Muslim community groups say they’ve held dozens of meetings for people who are worried about police surveillance and the NYPD’s counterterrorism programs. In one instance, an audience of college students watched as a law student played out the role of a police informant and another played the role of the person the informant was targeting. The goal was to teach people to spot informants.
“Stay away from these people. That’s one of the most powerful things you can do,” said Robin Gordon-Leavitt, a member of an advocacy organization Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility.
At another meeting, organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, students watched a film of two actors portraying FBI agents talking their way into a young Muslim’s home and interrogating him. At the meeting, students were warned not to speak with police even if their parents, imams or Muslim clerics urge them to cooperate.
“You’ll even hear imams saying, ‘As long as I obey the law, I have nothing to worry about.’ But that’s not how it plays out on the ground,” said Cyrus McGoldrick, CAIR New York’s civil rights manager.
CAIR has had a strained relationship with law enforcement and was named an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorist financing case.
The Muslim community wants an independent commission to investigate all NYPD and CIA operations in the Muslim community.
• Sullivan reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman contributed to this report from Washington.
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