Man Says He Was Paid To Spy On Muslim Groups
Muslim groups have long complained that the NYPD has targeted them for surveillance and now a self-described informant has come forward to say he was doing more than spying. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
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Outraged members of the Muslim Student Association at John Jay College say Shamiur Rahman told them he was a paid informant of the police after pretending to be a part of their group.
"It felt like someone stabbed you in the back right there, someone you trust too much, someone you reach out to, someone you try to help out," said Syedtalha Shahbaz, a student at John Jay College.
The Muslim students at John Jay said that Rahman said he was sorry for spying on them in a Facebook message this month. Shahbaz, the president of the association, said they went on Muslim retreats together and he even invited Rahman into his home.
Shahbaz said that Rahman told the group that they were not doing any illegal activities.
"Definitely not," Shahbaz said. "We actually asked him that, and he admitted that he wasted his time over here because obviously we are not doing any illegal activities over here."
The Associated Press reports Rahman was paid up to $1,000 a month to infiltrate groups and mosques and take pictures.
The 19-year-old Queens native agreed after he was busted for marijuana. He said he thought he was fighting terrorism, but eventually said that wasn't the case.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly didn't comment directly about the case but said informants are important and were used last week by the FBI to arrest Quasi Nafis, who is accused of trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank.
"We're using confidential informants the way law enforcement has always used confidential informants," Kelly said. "We are going to continue to use them. They are a vital part of our crime-fighting and counter-terrorism efforts."
But Rahman told the Associated Press his activities went beyond informing. He said he was ordered to bait Muslims into making inflammatory statements.
The Council on American Islamic Relations, an Islamic advocacy group, said it's not against surveillance of criminal activities, but believes targeting law abiding Muslims is wrong.
"To bait people into saying something that could be used against them, that, then is tremendously unconstitutional," said Cyrus McGoldrick of the Council on American Islamic Relations. "That's a tremendous violation.
Although upset, Muslim groups say they are happy Rahman has gone public about his spying.