The NYPD recruits Muslim informants to spy in mosques, cafes, and other social locations from Harlem to Hollis, according to a New York Times report. A task unit known as the Citywide Debriefing Team was created after Sept. 11th and targeted arrestees to cut deals in exchange for snitching.
One man, a limousine driver from Egypt, was busted in a prostitution sting. A second man was an Afghan food cart vendor arrested over a parking ticket dispute. Both were taken into custody only to be shuffled over into interrogation rooms with detectives.
Bayjan Abrahimi, the food court vendor, splits time as a DJ. When he was arrested in 2009, he recalled detectives inquiring about his potential connections to Al Queda. They asked Abrahimi to spy at mosques around the city, and he agreed. “At the time, I’m really scared,” he told the Times.
Moro Said had a similar story. Said, of Egypt, was picked up for an exchange with a cop posing as an undercover prostitute. The 57-year-old maintains that he was pulling over to give the woman directions.
Said — who refused to spy for authorities — was arrested and propositioned by police to “just go to the mosque and the cafe” and alert them “if somebody is talking about anything suspicious.”
In custody Said witnessed authorities target another Afghan prisoner. “It’s not appropriate,” Said said. “They’re fishing. You’re in trouble with the law and they are the law.”
John Miller, a deputy commissioner over the department’s Intelligence Division described the questioning as a “non coercive sessions where people have the ability to opt out at any time.”
And the men were never assumed to be Muslim. “It’s not a thing where they sit down and say, ‘are you Muslims or Sunni or a Shiite?’ That’s the kind of things the comes up in conversation,” Miller said.
Despite dismantling its muslim spying unit, the NYPD is still using the Debriefing Team, a law enforcement source told the New York Post. “They’re basically trying to flip them, get information from what they know or what they can know,” the person said (source).
Is it appropriate to recruit individuals to “spy” on Harlemites?