The NYPD disbanded its Demographics Unit — responsible for sending plainclothes agents to spy on Muslim communities — last month, but the spying hasn’t stopped.
As the New York Times reports, the department’s Citywide Debriefing Team began asking local Muslims arrested for low-level crimes to inform police of the goings-on at mosques, cafes, and restaurants in exchange for reduced charges shortly after 9/11, and continues to do so. The department has interviewed 220 potential informants in the first quarter of this year.
The Times details department reports it obtained about the practice:
They showed that religion had become a normal topic of police inquiry in the city’s holding cells and lockup facilities. Some reports written by detectives after debriefing sessions noted whether a prisoner attended mosque, celebrated Muslim holidays or had made a pilgrimage to Mecca. The report on the food cart vendor described the location of his Flushing mosque and noted that worshipers were a “mix of Afghani, Persian (Iranians) and Pakistani.” The Egyptian limousine driver said he “considers himself to be a Sunni Muslim” but “has not prayed at a Mosque in quite some time,” according to the report.
“We were looking for people who could provide visibility into the world of terrorism,” said John Miller, deputy commissioner of the NYPD Intelligence Division. “You don’t get information without talking to people.”
(Photo: @Dave Hosford)