NYPD, aided by CIA, secretly monitors Muslim communities

The Takeaway

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An investigation by the Associated Press reveals the New York Police Department pursued aggressive surveillance and intelligence gathering tactics that operate far outside its jurisdiction as part of its anti-terror efforts in the decade after 9/11.

These programs, often targeting Muslim communities, were developed and continue to be implemented with assistance from the Central Intelligence Agency, which is prohibited from spying on Americans. While some details of the NYPD’s intelligence gathering operations are well known, the CIA’s involvement and the extent of the clandestine operations focusing on Muslims have been kept from not just the public, but the New York City Council and the federal government as well.

“Some of the programs include something that became known inside the NYPD as the Demographics Unit,” said Matt Apuzzo, an AP reporter who worked on the story, to The Takeaway.

“Basically undercover officers were plucked out of the academy, of ethnic descent, and told to just hang out in the community and monitor daily life,” said Apuzzo. “They also have informants who are citizens, who are called ‘mosque crawlers,’ who just go through the mosques and just be the eyes and ears of the NYPD in the mosque.”

The NYPD responded to the story, saying it is “marked by outright fiction.” The police department has defended its intelligence gathering operations, pointing to foiled terrorist plots that lead to arrests.

Read the Associated Press investigation.


“The Takeaway” is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

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