Civil rights groups appeal ruling allowing NYPD to spy on Muslims

March 21, 2014

 

(RNS) Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights on Friday (March 21) appealed a federal judge’s ruling that affirmed the right of the New York City Police Department to spy on Muslims based on their faith and ethnicity.

Last month, Newark U.S. District Judge William Martini rejected charges of illegal spying, stating that any harm suffered by the plaintiffs was not because of the spying program but because of news reports that revealed the secret program in 2011.

The appeal was filed with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

“The message of the decision is that it’s OK to spy on Muslim Americans,” said lead plaintiff Syed Farhaj Hassan who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2001 and served in Iraq in 2003. “It’s a slap in the face to American Muslims who have served this country, served their community, and served their families by being peaceful citizens here.”

The two legal organizations argue the NYPD violated the constitutional rights of their clients based on their religion, and caused them harm. They allege fear of being spied on discouraged Muslims from attending mosque or speaking in public, and scared them from making charitable contributions to Muslim charities.

The lawsuit does not seek money for the plaintiffs, but asks the court to stop NYPD spying in New Jersey. The suit also asks the court to order the NYPD to expunge all records of the plaintiffs collected through the spying program.

Lawyers said internal NYPD documents included a list of 28 “ancestries of interest” and other policies showing that officers based their spying on the ethnic and religious background of their targets.

Since 2002, the NYPD has spied on at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two Muslim elementary schools, and two Muslim Student Associations on college campuses in New Jersey, lawyers said. Forms of monitoring include video surveillance, photographing and community mapping.

The lawsuit is the first of three challenging the NYPD program.

 

RNS.com: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/03/21/civil-rights-groups-appeal-ruling-allowing-nypd-spy-muslims/

Snowden Document: NSA Spied On Al Jazeera Communications

Al_Jazeera_AmericaLeaked documents reportedly reveal the spy agency hacked into Al Jazeera internal communications

 

Documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden show that the US spy agency hacked into Al Jazeera’s internal communications, German magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

 

One of the documents, reportedly seen by Der Spiegel and dating back to March 23, 2006, claims the NSA managed to access and read communications sent to the news organization by “interesting targets.” The German magazine did not specify what those targets were.

 

This latest revelation, revealling that NSA’s scope of spy programs extended to monitoring Al Jazeera, comes two days after the Washington Post published Snowden’s leak of the U.S. “black budget” for intelligence agencies. That reports claimed that despite massive spending and a broad network of surveillance and international espionage facilities, the US still had ‘blind spots’ where key national security questions continued to elude the intelligence community.

 

Another report by Der Spiegel last week claimed that leaked documents show that NSA hacked United Nations video calls. The magazine said the European Union and the U.N.’s Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), were also among those targeted by U.S. intelligence agents.

 

House Democrats: NYPD should purge spy files, end monitoring of mosques, cafe conversations

WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Thursday urged the New York Police Department to purge its intelligence databases of information gleaned from its clandestine spying on Muslim neighborhoods.

They also criticized the Obama administration for offering tepid responses to questions about whether it endorses such tactics.

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress and one of the lawmakers who introduced the resolution, said he understood the political difficulties the White House faces in wading into a debate over racial profiling and national security.

“But transformational leadership is about standing up and doing the right thing,” he said.

Dozens of lawmakers have been asking the Justice Department for eight months to investigate the NYPD’s tactics and determine whether they are legal. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, the top civil rights official at the department, has not answered questions about the matter. His spokeswoman has said attorneys are reviewing the requests to investigate.

Lawmakers introduced a resolution Thursday calling for an end to NYPD programs that infiltrated mosques and monitored even innocent conversations in cafes and bookstores. Muslim business owners were included in police files, even with no allegations of wrongdoing.

New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin appeared on Fox & Friends on Monday where he blasted Congressional Democrats for “voting to defund the New York police department” due to what he describes as a persistent narrative that the NYPD has been targeting and profiling Muslim citizens without probable cause. He says that this move by Democrats in the House runs counter to the narrative that President Barack Obama is building up ahead of the November election, which is that Democrats are tough on terrorism at home and abroad.

Document shows NYPD sought to spy on Shiites, based on shared religion with Iranian terrorists

NEW YORK — The New York Police Department recommended increasing surveillance of thousands of Shiite Muslims and their mosques, based solely on their religion, as a way to sweep the Northeast for signs of Iranian terrorists, according to interviews and a newly obtained secret police document.

The document offers a rare glimpse into the thinking of NYPD intelligence officers and how, when looking for potential threats, they focused their spying efforts on mosques and Muslims. Police analysts listed a dozen mosques from central Connecticut to the Philadelphia suburbs. None has been linked to terrorism, either in the document or publicly by federal agencies.

The May 2006 NYPD intelligence report, entitled “US-Iran Conflict: The Threat to New York City,” made a series of recommendations, including: “Expand and focus intelligence collections at Shi’a mosques.”

The NYPD is prohibited under its own guidelines and city law from basing its investigations on religion. Under FBI guidelines, which the NYPD says it follows, many of the recommendations in the police document would be prohibited.
The secret document stands in contrast to statements by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said the NYPD never considers religion in its policing. Kelly has said police go only where investigative leads take them, but the document described no leads to justify expanded surveillance at Shiite mosques.

CIA internal watchdog finds no problem with close partnership with NYPD

December 23—Washington — The CIA says its inspector general has found nothing wrong with the spy agency’s close partnership with the New York Police Department.

The inspector general concluded that no laws were broken and there was no evidence the CIA was conducting domestic spying.

The inspector general decided to do a preliminary investigation after a series of stories by The Associated Press revealed how after the 9/11 attacks the CIA helped the NYPD build domestic intelligence programs that were used to spy on Muslims.

The revelations troubled some members of Congress and even prompted the U.S. director of national intelligence, James Clapper, to remark that it did not look good for the CIA to be involved in any city police department.
The NYPD continues to have a close relationship with the CIA.

Iraq war turned British Muslims against their country, former spy chief says

The invasion of Iraq “substantially” increased the terror threat to Britain and turned British Muslims against their own country, says the former head of the MI5 spy agency. Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, controller of the domestic intelligence agency between 2002 and 2007, said yesterday that her agency “didn’t anticipate the degree to which British citizens would become involved” in al-Qaida-linked terror plots and that the Iraq war provided a “highly significant” source of motivation for British-born terrorists.

Giving evidence at the Chilcott inquiry, she said MI5 was “pretty well swamped” with intelligence suggesting a radicalisation of young Muslims in Britain after the 2003 invasion. She said British involvement in Iraq “radicalised” some British citizens, “not a whole generation, a few among a generation – who saw our involvement in Iraq on top of our involvement in Afghanistan as an attack on Islam”.

Asked what specific proof there was of a direct correlation between the Iraq invasion and the growth in Muslim terror plots in Britain she said: “I think we can produce evidence because of the numerical evidence of the number of plots, the number of leads, the number of people identified and the correlation of that to Iraq and the statements of people as to why they were involved. What Iraq did was to produce a fresh impetus of people prepared to engage in terrorism.”

Islamic invasion “through the womb”

This is an opinion article that links the Al Adl Wal Ihsane (Justice and Charity) organization with the presence of Islamic radicalism in Murcia. The imam that was recently accused of sexually abusing up to five underage girls in El Algar, is in reality a spy with the Spanish intelligence service (CNI). Allegedly, this man was working as a spy for the CNI who were investigating the presence of radical groups in the Muslim community. The author accuses Al Adl Wal Ihsane of promoting amongst their members the Islamic invasion of Spain “through the womb”. This supposed strategy of invasion consists in marrying and having children with Spanish women. Al Adl Wal Ihsane (Justice and Charity or Justice et Bienfaisance, in french) is a Moroccan Islamist association, founded by Cheikh Abdesslam Yassine, critical of the Moroccan monarchy and government. The author describes the supposed relationship between Al Adl Wal Ihsane members and Islamic terrorism.

Michigan Muslim group says FBI is asking people to spy

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan said that it is asking US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate complaints that the FBI is asking followers to spy on Islamic leaders and worshippers. The Michigan Muslim organization sent a letter to Holder after mosques and other groups reported that members of the community have been approached to monitor people coming to mosques, and what kinds of donations they make.

The FBI’s Detroit office has denied the allegations, and special agent Andrew Arena, in charge of the local office, said that no allegations of wrong had been brought to his attention. However, based on complaints by worshippers, the agency appears to be on a “fishing expedition,” said the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. “If there was a specific imam who they felt was telling people to support Osama bin Laden, that’s a different story — we wouldn’t have a problem with that. Community members would be the first people to report to federal law enforcement if such things were being said,” said Dawud Walid.

Some Muslims believe FBI may be spying in mosques

Muslim-American groups are accusing the FBI of planting moles in mosques across the U.S.

Suspicions amongst Muslims have risen greatly since February, when Craig Monteilh publicly stated the FBI had used him to infiltrate mosques and spy on Muslims in Orange County, California. The FBI has not responded to Monteilh’s story, which leads many Muslims to believe it is true and that he may not be the FBI’s only spy.

Monteilh stated he was offered to attend a terrorist training camp in Yemen or Afghanistan by Ahmadullah Niazi of Irvine. Niazi was charged with misusing a passport, perjury, and other federal crimes last month, and has been accused of being related to a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden.

The American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) has a history of working proactively with the FBI in reducing the risks of radicalism, and are thus concerned at the FBI’s lack of explanation to them and other Muslim leaders on whether this actually happened and if so, why.

While law enforcement agents at the FBI won’t comment specifically on the California case, Robert Heibel, director of the Institute for Intelligence Studies at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa. says “if they had information about someone at a mosque or church being involved with terrorism, they would have an obligation to investigate. Should the FBI give attention to potentially dangerous religious extremists?” Heibel said. “In a case like that, the agents aren’t targeting a religion. They’re targeting a potential lawbreaker.”

Muslim leader’s protest at police ‘spy tactics’

Strathclyde Police are facing accusations that it operates a covert intelligence monitoring unit which is infringing the rights of Muslims, after the force launched an investigation into claims that a group of Asians on a clay pigeon shoot had behaved “like terrorists”. Osama Saeed, chief executive of the Scottish Islamic Foundation, has written to Strathclyde’s chief constable, Stephen House, expressing concern at the way Special Branch officers are questioning Asians about their lifestyles, religious and political beliefs and internet activities. He added that the continued use of the tactics would lead to “further marginalisation of Muslims”, and is already leading some to think twice about practising their beliefs for fear that police will disrupt their lives. His comments came as one solicitor claimed police have also been secretly “recruiting” Muslims to provide information about their community in return for payments. The 10-strong shooting party were questioned informally at their homes and businesses by two policemen a year after their November 2006 trip to Kypeside Farm, an activity centre near Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire. The officers, believed to be from Special Branch, were reacting to a tip-off from a member of the public who claimed the group had been overheard discussing “shooting AK-47 rifles in Pakistan”.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=9CC40E37CC587FE4EF24B164&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News