Muslim Leader Responds to NYPD Surveillance & Terror Labels of Mosques

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Linda Sarsour, of the Arab American Association of New York.

The NYPD, America's largest police force, has allegedly been labeling entire mosques "terrorist organizations," according to a report by the Associated Press.

The NYPD uses “terrorism enterprise investigations” (TEIs) that are carried out for multiple years and allow the police to plant informants in mosques and other community organizations. The informants not only record sermons but also document style and intensity of worship among individual Muslims to try and a match them with terror-suspected Islamist organizations.

“We follow leads wherever they take us, we aren't intimidated as to where that lead takes us, and we're doing that to protect the people of New York City," New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "We've had 16 plots against New York since September 11, none of them have succeeded. It's been a combination of good work on the part of the federal government, good work on the part of the NYPD.”

Linda Sarsour is executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, which was allegedly targeted for surveillance by the NYPD. She joins The Takeaway to discuss the state of Muslim-NYPD relations and how they have changed over the years.


Editor's Note: The NYPD did not return our request for comment.


Linda Sarsour

Hosted by:

John Hockenberry

Produced by:

Tyler Adams

Comments [9]


The NYPD is doing its job to keep the city safe. Why are muslims being so worried ? If they have a clear background they should co-operate with the NYPD. The very fact they are fussy shows their involvement.
Muslims are peaceful but at times to please their religious imams bomb few places. Kill some people. And one cannot blame them its their religious duty to kill americans. Plus now they have the top man Obama as their close ally.
Gud luck americans. Hey I have a suggestion. Before America becomes the Islamic state of America why dont Americans start preparing things now.
Example - Convert white house to a mosque. On statue of liberty make the sign of crescent moon.

Sep. 11 2013 04:29 AM
Timothy Stinson from Delray Beach, Florida

I find a great deal of irony of today’s revelations that in addition to the practice of “Stop and Frisk” (NYPD’s targeting of Black and Latino males for unwarranted searches) the NYPD has designated Mosques as terrorist organizations.

It is telling that the NYPD and the Ku Klux Klan share the same set of enemies.

Ironically, these incidents surfaced on or near the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech.

Aug. 29 2013 09:16 PM
tom LI

Jennifer from Oregon - great point, was thinking the exact same thing.

Aug. 29 2013 04:08 PM
tom LI

To rose Miami - your personal experience is hearsay, its not actually personal. And as the other poster noted, the hustle and bustle is from 9am on...

You're judging a lot of strangers - in 49 other states based on your sisters ignorant and ridiculous observation that was all made in hindsight, not in real time. I'd lay good money on it being in hindsight.

Aug. 29 2013 04:06 PM
Dominic in St. Louis from Saint louis, Missouri

Really, really disturbing interview by Hockenberry. Sarsour said the Commissioner Kelly didn't have the leads to "accuse" these mosques of being "terrorist organizations" So- Hockenberry says "Wait- let's assume that they do..." i would assume by that statement that he's calling his guest a liar. He goes on from there: "Doesn't that make you a terrorist organization?". And when she states again that Kelly doesn't have the leads, Hockenberry says "It sounds to me like you're denying it- ARE YOU DENYING THAT YOU'RE A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION?"

This is the first time I have tuned in to a PRI/NPR local affiliate in almost half a year as I prefer to listen to Progressive Talk stations on line. It was a fluke because my internet went down, and THIS interview was the first thing I heard. It made me realize why I've not listened to NPR/PRI shows- it's called IRRESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM. In the 6 minutes I listened accusatory tone and questioning of his guest confirmed my reluctance to listen anymore. And, by the way- The Take Away is "new" to my affiliate KWMU and I had never heard it before so I was interested in the tone of the program. Now I know I will never listen again.

Aug. 29 2013 01:57 PM
Jennifer Pultz from Portland Oregon

Hi John,
Nice reporting this morning on the Mosques being surveilled. If the government really wants to get serious about rooting out crime in religious institutions, be sure to have some undercover cops go into the evangelical, and other religious right churches,(who are not allowed to partake in politics, nor rally their followers politically because of their tax-free status), and make some arrests. These illegal activities have been going on for years! Do you know of any investigations like this? Thanks again.

Aug. 29 2013 01:43 PM

"Trusting" the Muslim community to police their own resulted in 9/11, sniper John Muhammad, the shoe bomber, Fort Hood, Boston marathon bombing, foiled NYC subway plot, etc, etc. How many US citizens have to give their lives so that Muslims are not offended?

Aug. 29 2013 01:30 PM
AP from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Wow. Just wow. I don't even want to dignify your comment with a response, but I can't stop myself.

That sounds a lot like the "Jews who stayed home on 9/11" stories people were spreading back then, conspiracy theories to help them make sense of something that defies comprehension. What time did she get to work -- 8 a.m.? If so, she must have googled it immediately, because the first plane hit at 8:46. Color me skeptical.

I live in Bay Ridge. It's always quiet in the mornings -- it doesn't really get "bustling" on the avenues until after 9 or 10. It could have been quiet because it was primary election day. In Bay Ridge, there are probably as many store owners who are white or Chinese as there are Arab. I didn't live there at the time, but my boyfriend's entire family did. They, like thousands of their neighbors, noticed nothing peculiar about that morning until a jet flew into a skyscraper.

Muslims in New York mourned and grieved just like all other New Yorkers. One of the most notable things about the reading of the names in 9/11 commemoration ceremonies is the sheer number of victims whose names come from international origins, including many rooted in Islam. Some of the most patriotic people I've ever met are Muslims who live in Bay Ridge. The only thing your story suggests is that your sister told herself a story to help process something unimaginable and to rationalize her prejudices about her neighbors.

Aug. 29 2013 11:21 AM
rose from miami, fl

I hate to be one to defend NYPD or more surveillance, esp of religious orgs, because they should surely have oversight. but here is my personal experience: my sister lives in bay ridge, in a heavily mulsim neighborhood. during morning rush hour, the neighborhood is buzzing with retail, grocery, all kinds of shops.

On the morning of "the" 9/11, she walked to the subway thinking how quiet it was, and that there must be a muslim holiday because everyone stayed home today. she thought she would net-surf the question when she got to work. in retrospect, she remembered that the day before a muslim coworker she sees every day told her he couldn't make a meeting the next day, being very vague about not being at the office that next day.

from that it is hard not to assume that dozens, maybe hundreds of the muslims in the neighborhood were smart enough/informed enough to stay home that day to protect themselves, and, as far as i know, none of them tried to prevent the crime.

note some of these are muslims she had called friends.

It would be hard for me to trust those people again, and it is hard to believe what they have to say for themselves about why they acted differently that morning. They were never made accountable. My sister has forgiven and still lives there, but I would not.

Aug. 29 2013 10:14 AM

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