NYPD Dubbed Mosques 'Terrorism' Groups in Surveillance Effort, Report Says

By Aidan Gardiner on August 28, 2013 2:54pm 

 (L-R) Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo address the press after Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled the city's stop-and-frisk policy is unconstitutional on August 12.
(L-R) Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo address the press after Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled the city's stop-and-frisk policy is unconstitutional on August 12.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

NEW YORK CITY — The NYPD labeled city mosques terrorist organizations in order to keep tabs on anyone connected to the religious centers, even when there was no clear criminal activity, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

After 9/11, police dubbed at least a dozen mosques "terrorism enterprise investigations," a designation that significantly broadens their investigative powers, the news agency reported.

Undercover officers were allowed to sneak into mosques, plant informants in related cultural organizations, and monitor any New Yorker connected to the mosques without any indication that the individuals had done anything wrong, the AP reported.

The AP report by the Pulitzer Prize winners Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, who are about to release their book "Enemies Within" on the NYPD's handling of Muslim surveillance in the wake of 2001, released internal police documents they said expose the scrutiny of Islamic institutions in neighborhoods like Bay Ridge, Jamaica, and Woodside, among many others.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said on MSNBC's Morning Joe that the report and its accompanying book — were baseless.

"If it’s a reflection of the article, then the book will be a fair amount of fiction. It will be half-truths, it will be lots of quotes from unnamed sources," Kelly said.

In one 2008 police document, investigators zeroed in on Mohammad Elshinawy, a touring religious speaker whose audience included men who tried to "get Jihadi-type training" overseas and regarded him as their spiritual leader.

Cops even watched him as he bought a diamond wedding ring for his upcoming wedding, the AP reported.

Elshinawy is now a plaintiff in an ACLU suit against the NYPD. In a brief profile on the ACLU's website, he said that he fears he has been under surveillance since 2004.

The NYPD's surveillance exceeded the comfort of even the FBI, which balked at bugging Boerum Hill's Masjid Al-Farooq Islamic center, according to the AP.

NYPD informants put microphones in wristwatches and key fobs, using New York's one party consent recording laws to circumvent surveillance regulations, the AP reported.

Revelations about NYPD surveillance of the Muslim community come amid the department's effort to defend another anti-crime tactic that a judge ruled violated the Constitution.

A federal judge recently ruled that police had illegally used the department's stop-and-frisk tactic to racially profile black and Hispanic men in the city.

On Tuesday, the city asked the judge to delay her efforts to reform the NYPD and its use of the tactic until they had a chance to appeal her decision.

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