NYPD Disbands Unit That Snooped on Muslims

Mayor Bill De Blasio Denounced Operation

getty images

By Reuters

Published April 15, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The New York Police Department has disbanded a surveillance unit that targeted and monitored Muslim communities, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The unit, which began in 2003, has been largely inactive since the incoming Police Commissioner William Bratton took over the department in January, and its detectives have been reassigned, the report said.

“Understanding certain local demographics can be a useful factor when assessing the threat information that comes into New York City virtually on a daily basis,” Stephen Davis, the NYPD’s chief spokesman, was quoted as saying.

“In the future, we will gather that information, if necessary, through direct contact between the police precincts and the representatives of the communities they serve,” he said.

The NYPD and Davis did not respond to Reuters’ requests for confirmation or comment.

The surveillance program deployed undercover detectives in Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and watch day-to-day activities. Police also infiltrated mosques and student groups.

The department’s widespread program was first revealed in a series of articles by the Associated Press, which reported that officers had infiltrated Muslim organizations in the region following the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who left office in January, and police officials had defended the program as vital to anti-terrorism efforts.

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized the program when he was campaigning for office last fall and said NYPD surveillance should only be authorized to follow up on specific leads.

The program was also criticized by civil liberties advocates and was tested in court.

Last month, a federal judge in Newark, New Jersey, threw out a lawsuit brought by several New Jersey Muslims who claimed the NYPD illegally targeted them for undercover monitoring solely because of their religion.

The judge said the city persuasively argued that its surveillance was intended as an anti-terrorism, not an anti-Muslim, measure.

A similar lawsuit in New York is pending


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.