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NY mosques labeled as terrorist orgs

Special Correspondent |
Update: 2013-09-01 03:41:33
NY mosques labeled as terrorist orgs

NEW YORK: New York Police Department (NYPD) put tight surveillance to Muslim community mosques, which have been secretly branded here as terrorist organizations.

The label allows New York police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Different international media reported on the matter.

After publishing this sort of news in mass media, the Muslim community of Bangladesh and other countries, human rights organizations and even mainstream politicians highly criticized the measures.

Designating an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise means that anyone who attends prayer services there is a potential subject of an investigation and fair game for surveillance, the reports said.

After reviewing secret documents of police and checking the information from several sources the Associated Press first published a report on the issue. Later, other international media also reported on it.

The reports stated that The New York Police Department has secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorist organizations, a designation that allows police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD has opened at least a dozen "terrorism enterprise investigations" into mosques, according to interviews and confidential police documents. The TEI, as it is known, is a police tool intended to help investigate terrorist cells and the like. Though there was no evidence found in this manner in any mosques of New York.

The documents show in detail how, in its hunt for terrorists, the NYPD investigated countless innocent New York Muslims and put information about them in secret police files. Federal law enforcement official said that as a tactic, opening an enterprise investigation on a mosque is so potentially invasive that while the NYPD conducted at least a dozen.

The strategy has allowed the NYPD to send undercover officers into mosques and attempt to plant informants on the boards of mosques and at least one prominent Arab-American group in Brooklyn, whose executive director has worked with city officials, including Bill de Blasio, a front-runner for mayor, he added.

De Blasio said Wednesday on Twitter that he was "deeply troubled NYPD has labeled entire mosques & Muslim orgs terror groups with seemingly no leads. Security AND liberty make us strong."

The revelations about the NYPD`s massive spying operations are in documents recently obtained by The Associated Press and part of a new book, "Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD`s Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden`s Final Plot Against America." The book by AP reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman is based on hundreds of previously unpublished police files and interviews with current and former NYPD, CIA and FBI officials.

The disclosures come as the NYPD is fighting off lawsuits accusing it of engaging in racial profiling while combating crime. Earlier this month, a judge ruled that the department`s use of the stop-and-frisk tactic was unconstitutional.

The American Civil Liberties Union and two other groups have sued, saying the Muslim spying programs are unconstitutional and make Muslims afraid to practice their faith without police scrutiny.

Speaking Wednesday on MSNBC`s Morning Joe, Kelly reminded people that his intelligence-gathering programs began in the wake of 9/11.

"We follow leads wherever they take us," Kelly said. "We`re not intimidated as to wherever that lead takes us. And we`re doing that to protect the people of New York City."

The NYPD did not limit its operations to collecting information on those who attended the mosques or led prayers. The department sought also to put people on the boards of New York`s Islamic institutions to fill intelligence gaps.

Linda Sarsour, the executive director, said her group helps new immigrants adjust to life in the U.S. It was not clear whether the department was successful in its plans.

The document, which appears to have been created around 2009, was prepared for Kelly and distributed to the NYPD`s debriefing unit, which helped identify possible informants.

Around that time, Kelly was handing out medals to the Arab American Association`s soccer team, Brooklyn United, smiling and congratulating its players for winning the NYPD`s soccer league.

Sarsour, a Muslim who has met with Kelly many times, said she felt betrayed.

"It creates mistrust in our organizations," said Sarsour, who was born and raised in Brooklyn. "It makes one wonder and question who is sitting on the boards of the institutions where we work and pray."

Before the NYPD could target mosques as terrorist groups, it had to persuade a federal judge to rewrite rules governing how police can monitor speech protected by the First Amendment.

David Cohen, a former CIA executive who became NYPD`s deputy commissioner for intelligence in 2002, said the old rules didn`t apply to fighting against terrorism.

Cohen told the judge that mosques could be used "to shield the work of terrorists from law enforcement scrutiny by taking advantage of restrictions on the investigation of First Amendment activity."

In the first eight months under the new rules, the NYPD`s Intelligence Division opened at least 15 secret terrorism enterprise investigations, documents show. At least 10 targeted mosques.

Among the mosques targeted as early as 2003 was the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge. One of the Bay Ridge mosque`s leaders Zein Rimawi said after reviewing an NYPD document describing his mosque as a terrorist enterprise "I have never felt free in the United States.”

It was not immediately clear whether the NYPD targeted mosques outside of New York City specifically using TEIs. The AP had previously reported that Masjid Omar in Paterson, New Jersey, was identified as a target for surveillance in a 2006 NYPD report.

Actually it is not confirm whether any Bangladeshi Community mosques remain under the surveillance. The community also is concerned over the matter. As a result, the Muslims will not move freely, do any action and practice religion, share views and so on.

Bangladeshi community and the leaders hope to get rid of this crisis as soon as possible.

BDST: 1251 HRS, SEP 01, 2013
AIA/RS/ MMK/BSK- [email protected]

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