Muslims in New York under strict surveillance
By Rizwan Khatik - Tue Sep 06, 4:42 am
NEW YORK: A delegation of US Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), called on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and apprised him about the police spying of Muslims.
They also demanded to enforce a law that prohibits the use of racial or ethnic profiling by law enforcement officers. The delegation of CAIR told the mayor that some parts of media revealed the reports that the undercover officers of New York Police Department (NYPD) keep an close eye on the movement of Muslims . Places likes mosques, markets and hotels where Muslim usually visit are under observation of the police.
The media report also said the NYPD is maintaining a list of ’ancestries of interest’ and dispatched undercover officers to monitor Muslim businesses and social groups.
The revelations are contained in documents that confirm an earlier report by AP, that undercover NYPD officers in a so-called “Demographics Unit” targeted Muslim communities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut for surveillance and infiltration. After collecting data on local Muslims, the NYPD would “deploy officers in civilian clothes throughout the ethnic communities. But NYPD officials denied the existence of Demographics Unit exists.
According to the AP: “An NYPD presentation, delivered inside the department, described the mission and makeup of the Demographics Unit. Undercover officers were told to look not only for evidence of terrorism and crimes but also to determine the ethnicity of business owners and eavesdrop on conversations inside cafes.” The law is part of the administrative code of the city of New York, CAIR said. It defines profiling as an act that relies on race, ethnicity, religion or national origin as the determinative factor in initiating law enforcement action against an individual.
This law clearly prohibits NYPD officers from targeting American Muslims in the manner described by the Associated Press reports,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas. “We urge members of the New York City Council and Mayor Bloomberg to enforce the clear language of this law.”
Abbas noted that a CIA officer oversaw the spy programme “while working with the NYPD on the CIA payroll.” This action by a CIA agent could be in violation of guidelines prohibiting the agency from spying on American citizens.
The Demographics Unit, a team of 16 officers speaking at least five languages, is the only squad of its kind known to be operating in the country, it said.Using census information and government databases, the NYPD mapped ethnic neighbourhoods in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Rakers then visited local businesses, chatting up store owners to determine their ethnicity and gauge their sentiment, the documents show. They played cricket and eavesdropped in the city’s ethnic cafes and clubs.
When the CIA would launch drone attacks in Pakistan, the NYPD would dispatch rakers to Pakistani neighbourhoods to listen for angry rhetoric and anti-American comments, current and former officials involved in the program said.