NYPD Vindicated – Surveillance Targeted Potential Terrorists

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District Judge William Martini of New Jersey has dismissed a lawsuit against the New York Police Department for its intelligence-gathering in the state. The development is another vindication for the NYPD as it faces a campaign of misinformation from Islamists and their allies aimed at smearing the department's anti-terrorism efforts.

The plaintiffs include a Muslim Brotherhood-founded group named the Muslim Students Association. Another is the Muslim Foundation, which has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from an Iranian regime front. They argue that the NYPD should pay them for damages resulting from its intelligence-gathering on them.

However, according to the judge, the only reason these plaintiffs can allege that they are suffering is because the Associated Press detailed the NYPD operations to the public. If they wanted to sue someone, they should have sued the Associated Press — but they aren’t, because the lawsuit isn’t really about damages. It’s about bashing the NYPD.

“This confirms the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries flow from the Associated Press’ unauthorized disclosure of the documents …The Associated Press covertly obtained the materials and published them without authorization. Thus, the injury, if any existed, is not fairly traceable to the city,” Judge Martini ruled.

He also concluded that the NYPD was not conducting surveillance on individuals and organizations just for being Muslim, as the NYPD’s critics constantly allege. Judge Martini said that the NYPD’s intelligence-gathering to prevent Islamic terrorism obviously requires some intelligence-gathering on Muslims.

“The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself…The motive for the program was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but to find Muslim terrorists hiding among the ordinary law-abiding Muslims,” Judge Martini said.

The NYPD’s intelligence-gathering in N.J. was previously vindicated when Governor Chris Christie’s Attorney General concluded that its practices were legal. The conclusion came after Christie slammed the NYPD for its operations. Following the Attorney General’s determination, the Christie Administration formed a Muslim Outreach Committee with Islamist members, including a Hamas-tied cleric whose deportation is sought by the Department of Homeland Security.

The facts have consistently shown that the NYPD is not casting a wide net over Muslims in the hopes of nabbing a few terrorists. Its targets are chosen on concrete information. That is why the Department has won bi-partisan praise, with Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer endorsing Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Media reports scathed the NYPD for spying on clubs for Muslim students, for example. Actually, the NYPD was investigating chapters of the Muslim Students Association that had a history of extremist activity like booking radical speakers. The NYPD also was blasted for keeping tabs on Imam Reda Shata, a “moderate” cleric. Actually, he is a supporter of Hamas.

Further, the NYPD was condemned for its collaboration with the CIA. An investigation was conducted and the Department was cleared. The CIA review found “no evidence that any part of the agency's support to the NYPD constituted 'domestic spying.’”

The NYPD is also being sued in New York City by six plaintiffs. The suit received significant media coverage, but the NYPD’s defense did not. The defense included disturbing facts about the plaintiffs that showed that the NYPD would have been guilty of negligence if it did not follow-up on these facts.

The scandal-seeking media then focused on the story that the NYPD had labeled some Islamic organizations and mosques as “terrorism enterprises,” opening them up to deeper investigation. The actual numbers showed how this was taken out of context.

The NYPD had 175 mosques in its jurisdiction, at the very least. Over a period of 10 years, only 10 were labeled as a “terrorism enterprises.” This was done in accordance with the revised “Handschu Agreement” guidelines, which state that protected speech could be recorded when there is reasonable suspicion that two or more individuals are supporting terrorism within the target enterprise.

That’s common sense. Vocally supporting terrorism is legal under the Constitution, but it still can and should be used in investigations and as evidence in trials. If someone says suicide bombings are permissible, it’s worth collecting that evidence even if that person cannot be prosecuted for the statement.

Not all Muslims buy into the myth that the NYPD is mistreating them. In March 2012, about 25 Muslim leaders came together in New York City to defend the Department. On December 9, 2013, the NYPD Muslim Advisory Council honored Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for his work with their community, praising it as a “model of cooperation.”

“The Police Department has demonstrated that Muslims stand equal to other citizens of NYC by cracking down on hate crimes … Due to the work of the Hate Crime Task Force, Muslim New Yorkers can sleep more soundly at night,” the Council wrote.

Yet again, the NYPD has been vindicated, but that won’t silence its opponents. For the Islamists, it was never about facts or financial damages. It was always about influencing policy and convincing Muslims that they are in need of a guardian.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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