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- Written by Eman Jueid
- Category: World News
“People have short memories as to what happened here in 2001,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in response to growing criticism. Maybe so, but the fact that Kelly appeared in an anti-Muslim film, The Third Jihad, produced by a radical Israeli settlement group and dispersed as propaganda to stir up antipathy towards Muslims didn’t help.
Former Mayor Ed Koch said that even raising questions about the program “endangers the lives of eight million residents of New York City.” What he did not say was that a recent report released by the Triangle Center for Terrorism and Homeland Security noted that 20 Muslim Americans were indicted in 2011 for violent plots, a number that was down 26 percent from the year before and indicated an overall downward trend since 9/11.
Still, in the fact of facts and figures that went against their belief, the NYPD invested great time and money into their efforts to combat what they viewed as growing Muslim extremism. In the last decade Kelly has built what he called the NYPD’s “own counter-terrorism division,” an effort which employs 1,000 officers and cost $3 billion.
According to Kelly, 13 plots to attack New York City have been deterred since September 11, 2001, none of which were prevented by Kelly’s program.
Colorlines.com reports that rather than preventing these plots, a part of the program led by police informants may have even led to their creation.
These informants first identify young, poor, and in some cases mentally “unstable” Muslims, and encourage them to plot to attack New York City. As reported by the New York Times, some of the cases that Kelly has identified as having been “deterred” would not have existed without encouragement from police informers.
In the most recent case, an NYPD “informer provided companionship and a staging area so Mr. Pimentel, a Muslim convert, could build three pipe bombs while the Intelligence Division of the New York Police Department built its case.”
The Times Square bomb threat in 2010 — in which a device implanted in an SUV began to fume but did not create an explosion — was the closest to being fully carried out. Kelly attributed the failure of this plot to “luck” rather than his extensive spying program.
As the news of the spying emerged, some Muslim Americans began to question their status in the United States.
“I just feel like I’m being treated like a second class citizen in the place where I was born and grew up,” says a student at Rutgers, one of the Universities where the NYPD had rented an apartment in order to better observe the Muslim Student Association.
“It makes no sense to me that the NYPD is spending so much money and effort spying on people who want to help them. Muslims have been working with law enforcement, and this just shows a level of distrust and marginalization.” The student, who is a senior at Rutgers University did not want to be named.
But while officials in New York have completely supported the NYPD’s actions, leaders in New Jersey have been more critical.
Michael Ward, director of the FBI’s Newark division, said that now Muslims communities are “not sure they trust law enforcement in general, they’re fearing being watched, they’re starting to withdraw their activities.”
He says that this has left law enforcement with a “blind spot” in which anything could happen.
New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie, along with other prominent leaders, are opposed to the program and are demanding investigation into the issue.
In his criticisms of New York City, Christie said that, "9/11 was not prevented because law enforcement agencies weren't talking to each other, they were being selfish, they were being provincial, they were being paranoid, they were being arrogant...I do not want to return to those days."
Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, said, “If anyone in my police department had known this was a blanket investigation of individuals based on nothing but their religion, that strikes at the core of our beliefs and my beliefs very personally, and it would have merited a far sterner response.”
"A chill has been put on my community," he said.By Sehar Mughal, Aslan Media Contributor
*Photo Credit: EKavet
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