The NYPD has been spying on Muslim communities by infiltrating mosques with the help of the CIA in an effort to stave off future terrorist plots, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Since 9/11, the NYPD has become one of the country's most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, according to the AP, which described secret teams of NYPD intelligence officers working well outside their jurisdiction, including staging operations out of state.
As part of its efforts, the department has reportedly dispatched secret teams of undercover officers called “rakers” into minority ethnic neighborhoods to collect intelligence information at local bookstores, bars and cafes — an allegation a NYPD spokesman reportedly denied.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne denied that police trolled ethnic neighborhoods, telling the AP that officers only follow leads.
Mordecai Dzikansky, a retired NYPD intelligence officer, denied that spying on ethnic neighborhoods amounted to racial profiling.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the AP in an earlier interview that the NYPD's intelligence unit does not infringe on civil rights.
Police have also used informants, known as "mosque crawlers," to monitor sermons, even when there's no evidence of wrongdoing. NYPD officials have scrutinized imams and gathered intelligence on cab drivers and food cart vendors, jobs often done by Muslims.
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. NYPD intelligence 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. The story of how the NYPD Intelligence Division developed such aggressive programs was pieced together by the AP in interviews with more than 40 current and former New York Police Department and federal officials. 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.
A veteran CIA officer, while still on the agency’s payroll, was the architect of the NYPD’s intelligence programs. Police operations have disrupted terrorist plots and put several would-be killers in prison.
AP’s investigation is based on documents and interviews with more than 40 current and former New York Police Department and federal officials. After the terrorist attacks, New York hired retired CIA official David Cohen to transform its intelligence division.