The New York Police Department has collected information on more than 250 Muslim groups in and around New York City in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, according to internal documents obtained by the Associated Press.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg justified the NYPD Intelligence Division’s surveillance of the Muslim community, telling the AP that “the New York Police Department is capable of balancing security issues with civil liberties as it works to deal with any potential terror threat to the city.”
The mayor helped build the program after 9/11, recruiting former CIA employees to design and implement it.
The AP found that undercover officers from the NYPD were sent to Muslim communities to watch the residents, local mosques and student groups. More than 250 areas in New York and New Jersey were watched, according to the report, each pre-selected and some without any clear reason for inclusion. Many of the leaders of the mosques being watched have worked with the mayor and police to fight crime and terrorism, according to the AP.
According to Newser.com, Bloomberg said the police did not target specific ethnic or religious groups, but only criminal threats.
But several Muslim groups and a New York congresswoman rejected the mayor’s claims and have called for a Justice Department investigation into the work of the police Intelligence Division, calling its activities “racial profiling.”
Not all authorities were as critical, however.
“I am opposed to racial profiling, I think it doesn’t work, but there are things called criminal profiling,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), House Intelligence Committee chair, told The Washington Post. “If you’re going to catch an Irish mob bank robbery crew…you’re normally going to show up in places where the Irish-connected folks are going to hang out. In the FBI, we used to say that’s a clue.”