The NYPD Muslim Surveillance Program

WHY is the NYPD spying on Muslim communities?

  • The NYPD’s surveillance program is based on a false and unconstitutional premise: that Muslim religious belief and practices are a basis for law enforcement scrutiny.
  • The purported rationale for this unconstitutional surveillance is captured in a 2007 NYPD Intelligence Division report titled “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat.” The report claims to identify a “radicalization process” by which individuals turn into terrorists – a “process” so broad that it seems to treat with suspicion anyone who identifies as Muslim, harbors Islamic beliefs, or engages in Islamic religious practices. For example, its purported radicalization “indicators” include First Amendment-protected activities including “wearing traditional Islamic clothing [and] growing a beard,” abstaining from alcohol, and “becoming involved in social activism.”
  • WHERE has the surveillance taken place?
    • The NYPD’s suspicionless surveillance program has swept up Muslim communities throughout New York City, as well as every mosque within 100 miles of New York, and extended to Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, and more.
    • WHO is spying on whom?
      • Since at least 2002, the New York City Police Department’s Intelligence Division has engaged in the religious profiling and suspicionless surveillance of Muslims in New York City and beyond.
      • The NYPD’s Intelligence Division has singled out Muslim religious and community leaders, mosques, student associations, organizations, businesses, and individuals for pervasive surveillance that is discriminatory and not conducted against institutions or individuals belonging to any other religious faith, or the public at large.
      • The Intelligence Division units engaged in the NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program include its Demographics Unit, renamed the Zone Assessment Unit; the Intelligence Analysis Unit; the Cyber Intelligence Unit; and the Terrorist Interdiction Unit.

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