The New York Police Department (NYPD) [official website; JURIST news archive] has secretly launched at least a dozen terrorism investigations into mosques since the 9/11 attacks [JURIST backgrounder], the Associated Press reported [text] Wednesday. By designating mosques as "terrorism enterprises," the AP claims the NYPD allowed police to spy on imams and mosque attendees without any specific evidence of criminal activity. According to the AP report, the NYPD's terrorism enterprise investigations or TEIs [materials, PDF] have often dragged on for years even though the NYPD has never criminally charged a mosque with terrorism. The AP also obtained documents showing that the NYPD planted informants on the boards of mosques and other Muslim organizations to spy on them. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly [official websites] have denied any wrongdoing with respect to mosque surveillance.
The NYPD has faced a great deal of public pressure over its controversial surveillance and stop-and-frisk tactics. Last week JURIST guest columnist Samar Warsi of the Muslim Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] opined [JURIST op-ed] that police stops based on race are unconstitutional and symbols of corruption. Earlier in August a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] that the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy was unconstitutional under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments [text]. In June rights groups filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] accusing the NYPD of unlawfully targeting Muslims for surveillance. In February a federal judge granted class action status [JURIST report] to a lawsuit brought to stop the NYPD from continuing its stop-and-frisk practice outside of apartment buildings in the Bronx.