Just a week after news broke that the NYPD showed 1,500 of its officers grossly Islamophobic propaganda, the AP is reporting new evidence that the police department is profiling on the basis of religion, conducting surveillance specifically of Shia Muslim, Iranian and Palestinian communities.
The May 2006 NYPD intelligence report obtained by the AP is 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 report, drawn largely from information available in newspapers or sites like Wikipedia, was prepared for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. It was written at a time of great tension between the U.S. and Iran. That tension over Iran’s nuclear ambition has increased again recently.
Police estimated the New York area Shiite population to be about 35,000, with Iranians making up about 8,500. The document also calls for canvassing the Palestinian community because there might be terrorists there.
“The Palestinian community, although not Shi’a, should also be assessed due to presence of Hamas members and sympathizers and the group’s relationship with the Iranian government,” analysts wrote.
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.
The AP also reports that the NYPD is engaged in intelligence gathering and surveillance work in other states and in at least 11 foreign cities.
“The report specifically documents efforts by the NYPD to monitor 15 different mosques throughout the Tri-State Area. This is despite the fact that no illegal, or even suspicious activity, has ever been reported at these religious centers,” read a joint statement signed by a broad coalition of civil liberties, human rights, Muslim, and interfaith organizations on Thursday. The coalition includes the Council on American-Islamic Relations — New York (CAIR-NY) and the Arab Muslim American Federation.
The coalition’s statement calls for the “NYPD to acknowledge this wrongdoing, immediately cease all such activities, and create more transparency.”
“It’s another crystal clear indication that the NYPD is out of control and is running roughshod over the civil rights and civil liberties of New York’s Muslim and Middle Eastern residents,” Colorlines.com’s Seth Freed Wessler said about the AP’s findings.