Aziz Huq on the NYPD's Investigations into Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Groups

How the NYPD Slipped Blanket Surveillance of American Muslims Past the Courts—and the People
Aziz Huq
The Nation
September 26, 2011

What prevents government from singling out a religious or political group for heightened, invasive surveillance and coercive recruitment into the ranks of state informants? In the Big Apple, the answer seems to be, not much.

In August, the Associated Press’s Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman reported that the NYPD, with training and support from the CIA, has developed an extensive network of informants, long-term undercover officers and agents provocateurs targeting New York’s Muslim communities.

A so-called “Demographic Unit” and a “Terrorist Interdiction Unit” within the New York Police Department (NYPD) deployed “mosque crawlers” and “rakers” to trawl Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities to “rake the coals, looking for hot spots.” Allegedly, these units have singled out businesses and civil associations for monitoring based on citizens’ First Amendment–protected speech. And they and exploit arrest and charging discretion powers to “leverage” people from those communities into becoming informants against their friends and neighbors.