NEW YORK: The New York Police Department (NYPD) has secretly label entire mosques as terrorism organisations, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
The label has allowed the department to spy on imams and record sermons without having specific evidence of criminal activities.
This means that anyone attending the prayer service is part of organisation and can potentially be investigated and go under surveillance.
As per confidential police documents and interviews, NYPD has initiated more than a dozen “terrorism enterprise investigations” into mosques following the terror attacks on World Trade Centers (WTC) in New York.
Although mosques have never been charged for a criminal activity in New York, many TEIs have expanded to continue the on-going surveillance. The TEI, as it is known, is a police tool intended to help investigate terrorist cells and the like.
The confidential document also reveals that NYPD investigated numerous innocent Muslims and kept their information in secret files. According to interviews with federal law enforcement officials, as NYPD conducts at least a dozen enterprise investigations, FBI never did one.
Following the strategy, NYPD has also sent numerous undercover officers into mosques in order to plant informants in the Islamic institutions.
The documents were disclosed in a lawsuit against NYPD accusing the department over racial profiling while combating crime. Earlier this month, a judge ruled that the department’s use of the stop-and-frisk tactic was unconstitutional.
Two groups in the US, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have sued NYPD stating that the investigation programs are unlawful and an obstacle for Muslims to practice their faith with freedom.
These accusations have been denied by the Police Commissioner and Mayor Mike Bloomberg stating that the police do not target people without a lead.
The NYPD spokesman also refused to comment on the matter.