The New York Police Department is conducting massive spying operations on all mosques, secretly earmarking them as terrorism organizations, a new report says.
The NYPD has opened at least a dozen “terrorism enterprise investigations” into mosques since the 9/11 attacks, according to interviews and confidential police documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Designating an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise allows police to spy on the imams even without specified evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
The terrorism designation also means that anyone who attends Muslim prayer services is a potential subject of an investigation and surveillance, according to the report.
The NYPD used a tactic called TEI, which allowed officers to monitor political or religious speeches whenever the “facts or circumstances reasonably indicate” that the people were involved in plotting terrorism.
The report is also based on a new book entitled “Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden's Final Plot Against America” by AP reporters. The book is based on hundreds of previously unpublished police files and interviews with current and former NYPD, CIA and FBI officials.
Many of the investigations stretch for years allowing surveillance to continue even though the NYPD has never criminally charged a mosque or Islamic organization as a terrorism enterprise.
The AP first revealed in 2011 that the NYPD was spying on Muslims in the city. The new documents show that the department investigated countless innocent New York Muslims and put information about them in secret police files.
Civil rights lawyers in the US have sued the NYPD, saying the Muslim spying programs are unconstitutional and make Muslims afraid to practice their faith.
“I have never felt free in the United States. The documents tell me I am right,” Zein Rimawi, one of the Bay Ridge mosque’s leaders, said after reviewing an NYPD document describing his mosque as a terrorist enterprise.