The New York Police Department put American citizens under surveillance and scrutinized where they ate, prayed and worked, not because of charges of wrongdoing but because of their ethnicity, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Documents obtained describe in specific detail a secret program designed to study everyday life inside Muslim neighborhoods as people immigrated, got jobs, became citizens and started businesses. The documents undercut the NYPD’s claim that its officers only follow leads when investigating terrorism.
It began with one group, Moroccans, but the documents show police intended to build intelligence files on other ethnicities as well.
Undercover officers snapped photographs of restaurants frequented by Moroccans, including one that was noted for serving “religious Muslims.” Police documented where Moroccans bought groceries, which hotels they visited and where they prayed. One officer, after visiting an apartment used by new Moroccan immigrants, noted in his report that he saw two Qurans and a calendar from a nearby mosque.
The information was recorded in NYPD computers, officials said, so that if police ever received a specific tip about a Moroccan terrorist, officers looking for him would have details about the entire community at their fingertips.
The documents show how New York’s rich heritage as a place where immigrants traditionally have blended in and built their lives now clashes with today’s New York, where police see blending in as one of the first priorities for would-be terrorists.
The intel program was called the “Moroccan Initiative.”
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