The New York Police Department, with help from the CIA, is running antiterrorism operations outside of their jurisdiction that target ethnic communities in a way the federal government can’t, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo report for the Associated Press.
Undercover officers known as “rakers” and undercover informants known as “mosque crawlers” are sent into minority neighborhoods, the AP reports. The NYPD denied that it targeted ethnic neighborhoods, saying that it only followed leads.
The program, the AP reported, was started by David Cohen, a retired 35-year veteran of the CIA who started at the NYPD in Jan. 2002. He, like police commissioner Ray Kelly, thought that the NYPD couldn’t just rely on the federal government to protect the city from a future terrorist attack. CIA Director George Tenet tapped Larry Sanchez to help out Cohen. Sanchez, still on the CIA payroll, schooled officers in the art of intelligence gathering, said the AP.
Cohen started a secret squad that would infiltrate Muslim communities, several current and former officials involved in the program told the AP. One of the biggest issues for the CIA is that their intelligence officials are overwhelmingly white. But the NYPD didn’t have that problem thanks to their diverse pool of officers, and were able to find the right fit for their undercover officers:
Using census data, the department matched undercover officers to ethnic communities and instructed them to blend in, the officials said. Pakistani-American officers infiltrated Pakistani neighborhoods, Palestinians focused on Palestinian neighborhoods. They hung out in hookah bars and cafes, quietly observing the community around them.
Inside the Department, it became known as the “Demographic Unit.” An NYPD spokesman declined it existed. “Someone has a great imagination,” Paul Browne, the NYPD spokesman, told the AP. “There is no such thing as mosque crawlers.”
Read the full AP story here.