Former Informant Reveals Dirty NYPD Practices Against Muslims

December 9, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Recently the AP reported that an informant recruited by the New York Police Department to spy on Muslims quit and denounced publicly his actions. He was recruited, in a standard police informant recruiting method, by offering him leniency on minor marijuana charges he was facing. He informed on Muslims from January to early October this year. Shamiur Rahman, a 19-year-old American citizen of Bangladeshi descent, said at first he thought he was doing important work in protecting NYC and considered himself a hero. He came to see his work as "detrimental to the Constitution."

He was part of a strategy the NYPD calls "create and capture." He would create a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capture the response to send to the NYPD. He earned as much as $1,000 per month, as well as consideration around the marijuana arrests. This was all part of the NYPD's methods of operation with its intelligence unit since September 2001. It involves widespread spying on Muslims in all aspects of their daily life, and it also has involved several times going beyond "create and capture" conversations to proposing illegal activities and then luring in people who would not have had the means or even inclination to carry out such actions without the role of the NYPD informant or operative. It is part of a larger paradigm shift in law enforcement, with the NYPD playing a vanguard role in jettisoning the concepts of probable cause and due process of law and spying on anyone they want. This spying has targeted whole populations of people based on their nationality or religion, that is, Arabs, South Asians and Muslims.

The AP revealed earlier other aspects of this wide-ranging spying on Muslims at mosques or student groups. Informants reported on things as innocent and mundane as how many times a day members of a Muslim student group prayed when on a rafting and camping trip. This activity ranged outside the NYPD jurisdiction, from New Jersey to Connecticut. Never was there any indication of any criminal activity on the part of the students or others. This is all illegal, illegitimate and immoral. And the NYPD has defended these tactics publicly under the rubric that its job is to protect New Yorkers and, basically, the law be damned.

The entire intelligence unit created after 9/11 was set up by an ex-CIA high-level official, and these tactics have been developed with the knowledge and assistance of the FBI and CIA, including their knowledge that the tactics are illegal. In internal emails revealed through hacking by Anonymous and WikiLeaks of a right-wing intelligence group, STRATFOR, that works closely with various U.S. intelligence agencies, the following was said: "The [NYPD Intelligence] are going to make Hoover, COINTEL, Red Squads, etc look like rank amateurs compared to some damn right felonious activity, and violations of US citizens' rights they have engaged in." (For more on this, see the Revolution #182 article "The NYPD—Securing the City for Whom," November 8, 2009, reviewing the book Securing the City. Inside America's Best Counterterror Force—The NYPD.)

Rahman was instructed by his NYPD handler to spy on mosques and report on what the imam said and who attended, take pictures of attendees, and note license plate numbers of cars of attendees. He was told to spy on public programs of the Muslim Student Association at John Jay College, get to know the students, take pictures, determine who belonged to the student association, identify its leadership and report on all manner of personal history and activities. He was also sent to the annual convention of the Muslim American Society in Hartford, CT, in 2008 at which there were at least three NYPD informants.

One tactic revealed by Rahman is that, according to the AP, he sometimes intentionally "misinterpreted what people had said." He said it was easy to take statements out of context and he wanted to please his NYPD handler. He said he was trying to get money and was "playing the game."

By October of this year, Rahman told the NYPD he was finished as an informant. He said he never witnessed any criminal activity or saw anybody do anything wrong. He told friends he had been a police spy but had quit. He also told some of the Muslim student groups' members. According to the AP, he wrote, "'I was an informant for the NYPD, for a little while, to investigate terrorism.' He said he no longer thought it was right. Perhaps he had been hunting terrorists, he said, 'but I doubt it.'"

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.