Yesterday the New York Times reported that the New York Police Department “has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped.”

A book published just two days ago warned of the danger of just such actions, and the potentially nefarious motives behind the groups who prompt such actions.

(Photo: Gothamist)

NYPD surveillance. (Photo: Gothamist) 

As the Times notes, the NYPD was the subject of two federal lawsuits in connection with its intelligence-gathering tactics, as well as criticism from civil rights group and a member of the FBI who claimed such practices damaged law enforcement’s standing in Muslim communities by “sowing mistrust.”

The NYPD announced it was shuttering its Demographics Unit (renamed the Zone Assessment Unit) that carried out its Muslim eavesdropping operations during a meeting between Commissioner William Bratton and new intelligence chief John Miller, and various advocates including a representative from the Arab American Association of New York last week.

Such communications, and the NYPD’s decision to close down its Demographics Unit, dovetail with Bratton’s stated effort “to try to heal rifts between the Police Department and minority communities that have felt alienated as a result of policies pursued during the Bloomberg administration.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio stated that the closing of the unit was “a critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve, so that our cops and our citizens can help one another go after the real bad guys/”

But Robert Spencer, a leading counter-jihadist, in a new book called “Arab Winter Comes to America,” argues that programs like that of the NYPD are justified, and the efforts to end such programs may be motivated by a desire to endanger Americans.

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In one passage titled “Abundant Reason to Send In Informants,” Spencer writes [links added per book bibliography]:

“The NYPD, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies have abundant reason to send informants into mosques and conduct surveillance of Muslims. Four separate studies conducted independently of one another since 1998 have all found that 80 percent of U.S. mosques were teaching jihad, Islamic supremacism, and hatred and contempt for Jews and Christians. There are no countervailing studies that challenge these results. In 1998, Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, a Sufi leader, visited 114 mosques in the United States. Then he testified before a State Department open forum in January 1999 that 80 percent of American mosques taught the “extremist ideology.”

Confirming this same percentage were the Center for Religious Freedom’s 2005 study of material taught in mosques in Los Angeles, Oakland, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Washington, and New York, and the Mapping Sharia Project’s 2008 study. Each separately showed that between 75 and 80 percent of mosques in America were preaching hatred of Jews and Christians and the necessity ultimately to impose Islamic rule. And in the sumer of 2011 came another study showing that only 19 percent of mosques in the United States don’t teach jihad violence and/or Islamic supremacism.”

As to the motives behind the legal challenges behind those opposing law enforcement efforts to collect intelligence on the Muslim community, in a section titled “Suing to Protect the Jihad?,” Spencer writes:

“There have been numerous…plots and attacks…in the United States in recent years. All of them establish that law enforcement officials have been perfectly justified in sending informants into mosques and scrutinizing devout Muslims more closely than, say, Methodist grandmothers.

But if the leftist and Muslim legal initiatives against law enforcement counterterror operations directed at Muslims succeed, the inevitable result will be less surveillance of mosques, less monitoring of Islamic jihadist internet chatter, and less vigilance all around in the face of an obvious and persistent threat. Americans will be rendered less safe and more vulnerable to Islamic jihad attacks.

There are numerous good reasons to suspect that that may be the ultimate objective of these legal challenges.”

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