UK & World News
NYPD 'Labelled Mosques As Terrorist Groups'
The New York Police Department secretly designated entire mosques as terrorist organisations, according to an Associated Press report.
Since 9/11, the NYPD has opened at least a dozen "terrorism enterprise investigations" into mosques, according to interviews and confidential police documents obtained by the news agency.
The TEI, as it is known, is a police tool intended to help investigate terrorist cells and the like.
The secret designation allows police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Labelling an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise means anyone who attends prayer services there is a potential subject of investigation and fair game for surveillance.
According to the report, many TEIs stretch for years, allowing surveillance to continue even though a mosque or Islamic organisation has never been criminally charged with operating as a terrorism enterprise.
The AP reported that the documents show in detail how, in its hunt for terrorists, the NYPD investigated countless innocent New York Muslims and put information about them in secret police files.
The revelations about the spying operations are part of a new book, Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden's Final Plot Against America.
The book by two AP reporters is based on hundreds of previously unpublished police files and interviews with current and former NYPD, CIA and FBI officials.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly did not deny the existence of the spying programme in an interview on Wednesday, but accused the AP of "hyping a book".
"We follow leads wherever they take us," Mr Kelly said on MSNBC's Morning Joe.
"We're not intimidated as to wherever that lead takes us. And we're doing that to protect the people of New York City."
The disclosures come as the NYPD is fighting off lawsuits accusing it of engaging in racial profiling while combating crime.
Earlier this month, a judge ruled that the department's use of the stop-and-frisk tactic was unconstitutional.