CAIRO – New revelations that New York police department has designated mosques and Islamic organizations across the city as “terrorist organizations” has sent shockwaves among Muslims, feeling betrayed by authorities after long years of cooperation to build trust.
“As we were inviting Commissioner [Ray] Kelly and his leadership into our mosques, into our institutions, he was coming through the backdoor,” a furious Linda Sarsour, from the organization the Arab-American Association of New York, told Metro newspaper.
Working for years with NYPD, Sarsour spoke angrily of the police department’s efforts ”to infiltrate [the Association's] board,” particularly in light of the efforts she said her organization has made to work with Police Commissioner Kelly.
A report by the AP has revealed that NYPD has labeled mosques as terrorist organizations.
The label allows cops to spy on worshipers and imams, use informers and record sermons without any evidence of previous criminal wrongdoing; tactics even the FBI refused to use.
The document seen by the AP added that the NYPD has opened at least a dozen terrorism enterprise investigations (TEIs) as part of an initiative to help police infiltrate and investigate secret terrorist cell since 9/11 attacks.
Despite the time, effort and resources that have gone into the TEI scheme, the NYPD has never criminally charged a mosque or an Islamic organization with terrorism, according to confidential police documents and interviews.
The strategy has allowed the NYPD to investigate countless innocent Muslims living in New York by sending undercover officers into mosques and planting informants on their boards and in at least one prominent Arab-American group in Brooklyn.
“We are tired of the violation of the civil rights of Muslim New Yorkers,” Sarsour said.
Since 9/11, Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
Muslims’ anger has grown against the New York police following revelations in 2011 by the Associated Press that the NYPD used undercover agents to spy on Muslim communities.
A report by the AP said that the NYPD sent out undercover officers into ethnic communities to track daily life and monitor mosques as well as Muslim student organizations.
Speaking for her community, Sarsour said that New York Muslims share the sense of feeling betrayed by their own police department.
“I am a New Yorker. I am an American,” Sarsour said.
“I’m running a social service agency that is filling a gap that the government is not filling. I am serving an underserved community in New York City. I deserve to be able to do my job.”
Same as Sarsour, Dr. Ahmad Jaber, the President of the Arab American Association of New York, said the discoveries in the AP report made him feel “betrayed” after the work he and others have been doing to try to build a relationship between the NYPD and the Muslim community.
Jaber used to be the President of the Dawood Mosque on State Street in Brooklyn, the oldest mosque in Brooklyn.
The Dawood Mosque was also reportedly designated a terrorist organization and targeted in the NYPD’s “terrorism enterprise investigations.”
Jaber himself was appointed by Kelly to a position on the Muslim Advisory Council to the NYPD, a position from which he announced today he will resign.
Urging other members in the council to resign too, Jaber noted that the discovery that the NYPD had been designating entire mosques and community groups terrorist organizations “was the last straw”.
The accusations against the NYPD were not the first.
Last September, the CIA launched an investigation into cooperation with NYPD to spy on American Muslims.
In 2011, the New York University's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice issued a report criticizing the tactic of US law enforcement agencies in sending paid informants into mosques to instigate and trap Muslims into terror plots.
The report, themed “Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat’, cited three high-profile domestic terrorism prosecutions which raised question marks about the role of the FBI and the NYPD in creating the perception of “homegrown” terrorism.
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