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.
The document that mentions Khan, the University at Buffalo student, is entitled “Weekly MSA Report” and dated Nov. 22, 2006. It explains 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.
The email said “highly respected scholars” would be attending the Toronto conference, but did not say who or give any details of the program. Khan says she never went to the conference, was not affiliated with it and had no idea who was speaking at it.
Khan says she clicked “forward” and sent it to a Yahoo chat group of fellow students.
“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.
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.
“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 Khan still 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.