More information emerged from the Associated Press this week about the New York Police Department’s vast program to spy on Muslim communities. Court documents in a civil rights suit challenging the program reveal that the police Demographics Unit filed over 4000 reports in the last three years on Muslim community activities. In the same period, the Associated Press reports, the division logged the details of 200 conversations recorded in clandestine visits by police and informants.
The AP, which first reported on the Demographics Unit two in 2011, also reported today that at least one police informant paid by the NYPD to spy on Muslims said he used a strategy called, “create and capture.” The AP, which viewed texts between the informant and a police detective, reports:
(Police informant Shamiur) Rahman told the AP last year that he made about $9,000 over nine months spying widely on friends and others. He said the NYPD encouraged him to use a tactic called “create and capture.” He said it involved creating conversations about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the responses and sending them to the NYPD.
Rahman allowed the AP to review months of text messages with [detective Stephen] Hoban from January to September 2012.
“Hey bro,” Rahman told Hoban in one message. “I think im going to bring up jihad with these guys tonight, see what they say and know and then go home because everyones really just praying and stuff.”
The NYPD denies that they used the tactic. The city claims the demographics unit only followed leads. But there’s no evidence that the unit uncovered a single lead. Rather, it functioned to collect information on the mundane day-to-day lives of Muslims in New York and surrounding states. Informants and uncover police followed around Muslim student groups and one police report noted the location of a black Muslim pre-school in New Jersey.