NEW YORK After six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and mosques, a senior New York police official said that surveillance of the Muslim community has not yielded a single criminal lead, triggering Muslim condemnations.
You can see for yourself that this is not about keeping us safe, that this is, unfortunately, about control, about intelligence gathering for its own sake," Cyrus McGoldrick, who represents the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Voice of America on Wednesday, August 22.
It has no practical purpose and is a tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars.
Uproar followed a court testimony made by Thomas Galati, the Assistant Chief and commanding officer of the NYPD Intelligence Division.
Galati confirmed that six year work of Muslim surveillance has not yielded a single lead or launched any terror investigation.
"I never made a lead from rhetoric that came from a Demographics report, and I'm here since 2006," he said in the testimony cited by AP.
"I don't recall other ones prior to my arrival. Again, that's always a possibility. I am not aware of any."
Last year, the Associated Press revealed that the NYPD sent out undercover officers into ethnic communities to track their daily life and monitor mosques as well as Muslim student organizations.
It also revealed that the NYPD intelligence had established so-called Demographics Unit using plainclothes police officers to monitor ethnic groups in the metropolitan region.
The AP also found that the NYPD kept secret files on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims.
According to the agency, police photographed businesses and eavesdropped at lunch counters and inside grocery stores and pastry shops.
Using this information, the police department built databases showing where Muslims live, pray, buy groceries, and use internet cafes.
The revelations angered US Muslims, who described the police surveillance as a violation of their civil and religious rights.
But officials of New York City and New York State have refused to investigate the police over these allegations.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also publicly defended the NYPD surveillance of Muslims, describing the operation as "legal," "appropriate," and "constitutional."
The six-year surveillance has widely affected Muslim rights and businesses in the United States.
Maybe five outside, ten police inside, you know. I told him 'what happened?' He's told me like just 'this is routine.' I said 'routine for what? This is a barbershop,' Palestinian immigrant Mousa Ahmad said.
He go to the basement, he checked every single bag, every single drawer, he said.
Facing repeated police harassment, Ahmad had to close a coffee shop that he owned because police surveillance frightened away his customers.
Since 9/11, Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
The accusations against the NYPD were not the first.
Last September, the CIA launched an investigation into cooperation with NYPD to spy on American Muslims.
In 2011, the New York University's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice issued a report criticizing the tactic of US law enforcement agencies in sending paid informants into mosques to instigate and trap Muslims into terror plots.
The report, themed Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the Homegrown Threat', cited three high-profile domestic terrorism prosecutions which raised question marks about the role of the FBI and the NYPD in creating the perception of homegrown terrorism.