Recapping Associated Press Reports on NYPD Surveillance of Muslims

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Summary of the AP Reports Detailing NYPD Surveillance of Muslim Communities

Beginning August of 2011, the Associated Press released a series of
reports documenting NYPD surveillance programs targeting Muslims. Since
new articles continued to reveal more details about these programs and
their impacts, we have organized a list below of the most illuminating
articles and a brief explanation of some of their key revelations.  All
the AP articles are available here:

Note-for context, it is important to include the following public
document, produced by the NYPD in 2007, which many see as outlining the
analysis that these programs are using:

Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat

  • Outlines a “path to radicalization” for Muslims in NYC with specific behaviors as indicators of a potential terrorist.
  • Details 11 cases of terrorism in to extrapolate common factors that led the individuals to turn violent.
  • Asserts that activities such as growing a beard, praying 5 times a
    day and, bizarrely, camping and whitewater rafting as evidence of a
    proclivity for violence and terrorism.

August 23, 2011- Initial report after a months long investigation including interviews with over 40 current and former NYPD officer.

  • Details CIA partnership in NYPD counter-terrorism, starting with David Cohen.
  • NYPD engaging in intelligence gathering in New Jersey.
  • Refers to “rakers” and “human mapping” as a means to gather general intelligence on Muslim communities.
  • Browne stated that the demographic unit does not exist, rather a
    zone assessment unit that looks for locations that could attract
    terrorists, denies trolling neighborhoods and said they only follow

August 31, 2011- Inside the spy unit that NYPD says doesn’t exist

  • Obtained documents from the NYPD outlining the Demographics unit
  • Identified 28 ancestries of interest (predominantly Muslim countries) and the “American black Muslim” as possible targets.
  • NYPD documents used the term “rakers” (which the NYPD had previously denied existed)

September 22, 2011- NYPD eyed US citizens in intel effort

  • Obtained NYPD documents outlining the Moroccan Initiative.
  • US citizens were targeted for surveillance based on ethnicity, without evidence of involvement in a particular crime.
  • Contains photographs of businesses thought to cater to Moroccans,
    with the ethnicities of the owners noted, or whether the restaurants
    serve halal meat, etc.
  • AP obtained documents with a list of every Moroccan cab driver in
    the city, and the NYPD attempted to interview all of them but many were
  • Police used I-94 immigration paperwork to obtain the addresses of
    Moroccan immigrants and visitors. They would visit these homes,
    sometimes making a cover story about a missing child to gain entrance to
    the home and gather general intelligence about the inside of the
  • Documents sought to reveal how immigrants coming to the US would
    remain under the radar, or become Americanized (what neighborhoods,
    businesses and institutions they would utilize).

October 6, 2011- NYPD spied on city’s Muslim anti-terror partners

  • Some public partners and supporters of the city’s anti-terrorism
    efforts were being secretly spied on themselves, some with multiple
    informants placed in their mosques or otherwise able to monitor their

October 10, 2011- NYPD infiltration of colleges raises privacy fears

  • “Investigators have been infiltrating Muslim student groups at
    Brooklyn College and other schools in the city, monitoring their
    Internet activity and placing undercover agents in their ranks”
  • “By 2006, police had identified 31 Muslim student associations and labeled seven of them “MSAs of concern,”.
  • NYPD detectives approached campus police saying they were working
    narcotics or gang cases and sometimes even access to records. Police
    used the records to identify students they were observing and get
    contact information, potentially violating the Family Educational Rights
    and Privacy Act.

October 26, 2011- NYPD shadows Muslims who change names

  • “The NYPD monitors everyone in the city who changes his or her name.
    For those whose names sound Arabic or might be from Muslim countries,
    police run comprehensive background checks that include reviewing travel
    records, criminal histories, business licenses and immigration
    documents. All this is recorded in police databases for supervisors, who
    review the names and select a handful of people for police to visit.”

November 8, 2011- Law may not be on Muslims’ side in NYPD intel case

  • Chronicles the changes in policy over time weakening the protections against surveillance

Here are two reports which analyze the surveillance of Muslims from the NYU Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice:

Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the “Homegrown Threat” in the United States

Under the Radar: Muslims Deported, Detained, and Denied Based on Unsubstantiated Terrorism Allegations