Since the 9/11 attacks, the New York Police Department has allegedly opened at least 12 "terrorism enterprise investigations" into mosques and secretly labeled the religious institutions as terrorist organizations, a designation that lets officers use informants to record services and use other spy techniques to collect information. By labeling an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise, anyone who goes to that mosque is a potential subject and therefore eligible for surveillance.
The TEI label is a police tool intended to help investigate terrorist cells but it appears that the tactic has led the NYPD to investigate many innocent New York Muslims and put information about them in secret police files. TEIs are so invasive that although the NYPD has conducted a dozen or so, the FBI has yet to do one, Fox News reported.
The information about the NYPD's covert operations was in documents recently obtained by The Associated Press. They will be part of a new book, "Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden's Final Plot Against America," by AP reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly have denied the accusations. "As a matter of department policy, undercover officers and confidential informants do not enter a mosque unless they are following up on a lead," Kelly said. "We have a responsibility to protect New Yorkers from violent crime or another terrorist attack -- and we uphold the law in doing so."
"These new NYPD spying disclosures confirm the experiences and worst fears of New York's Muslims," ACLU lawyer Hina Shamsi said. "From houses of worship to a wedding, there's no area of New York Muslim religious or personal life that the NYPD has not invaded through its bias-based surveillance policy."
An NYPD spokesman declined to comment.