Amid ongoing tensions over the New York City Police Department's monitoring of Muslim communities in the Northeast, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly met Tuesday with local Muslim leaders who praised the surveillance programs' effects on security.
Saying to represent all five boroughs, the half-dozen Muslims who met with Kelly said the police commissioner plans to further reach out to local Muslims and will visit mosques across the city.
"These are viruses in our community and it is our benefit to have effective leadership like Raymond Kelly has been providing so we can all be safe," said Sheik Moussa Drammeh, the founder of the Al-Iman Mosque.
"The way we were informed, individuals or perps of interests who were being followed into mosques or other religious institutions, that's within the guidelines. It's not casing out a mosque," said Mohammad Razvi of the Council of Peoples Organization.
Some groups, including the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, called Tuesday's meeting "disingenuous," saying Kelly "hand-picked" the attendees and did not invite some of his harshest critics.
They also said the department conducts, in the words of one critics, "broad, warrantless surveillance on the basis of profiling."
"Based on the NYPD's document, that would indicate that they find somebody 'suspicious' in every single mosque in New York City, because they have documents on every single mosque," said Fahd Ahmed of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM). "You know, there are reports that, where they're even recording conversations from a very long list of mosques, recording just innocuous conversations."
The NYPD reportedly monitored Muslim student groups at colleges in the Northeast, and monitored daily websites of Muslim student organizations at New York University, Columbia University and various CUNY schools.
In one instance, the department reportedly sent an undercover agent on a whitewater rafting trip with some Muslim students from City College.
Nevertheless, Mayor Michael Bloomberg repeated on Tuesday that police are just trying to keep the city safe.
"We have to be perfect every single day. Terrorists only have to be right once," said the mayor. "And we've gone 10 years stopping 14-odd attempts at terrorism."
On Monday, Muslim leaders joined Congressman Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, to rally outside of police headquarters to show support for the NYPD's tactics, saying they are necessary to keep New Yorkers safe.