'WALKING CAMERA' AMONG NYC MUSLIMS
- DETECTIVE WAS 'WALKING CAMERA' AMONG CITY MUSLIMS, HE TESTIFIES
William K. Rashbaum
New York Times
A young police detective testified yesterday at the Herald Square
bombing plot trial that he was recruited from the Police Academy 13
months after 9/11 to work deep undercover in the Muslim community to
investigate Islamic extremists.
The detective, a Muslim who came to America from Bangladesh when he
was 7, testified that he was a 23-year-old college graduate when he
was plucked from the academy in October 2002. He took an apartment in
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where, he testified, his assignment was to be a
"walking camera" among Muslims there.
He said he had no regular contact with the department other than
through his handler, to whom he reported by e-mail at first. During
two years of living in Bay Ridge, he was involved in "numerous"
investigations, he testified, and was at times shadowed by a field
team to ensure his safety.
The Police Intelligence Division's program to post detectives overseas
has been widely publicized. But this detective's testimony yesterday
in federal court in Brooklyn provided the closest look yet at how the
division is using undercover investigators to penetrate mosques,
bookstores and other places where Muslims gather in the city.
His testimony confirmed what many Muslims have believed since the
Sept. 11 attacks: that law enforcement agencies have worked to
infiltrate their community during terrorism investigations. It also
revealed the extraordinary steps the department took to create a
fictitious identity so a Muslim investigator could live for years in
an insular neighborhood where people have become highly suspicious of
Beyond the detective's testimony, police officials yesterday would not
discuss the scope of the program and provided no details about its
structure, its guidelines or its successes or failures. Several
officials, however, suggested it was in its early stages. The witness
was identified only by a pseudonym Kamil Pasha in order,
prosecutors said, to protect continuing investigations.
The detective was the final witness at the four-week trial of Shahawar
Matin Siraj, 23, a Pakistani immigrant who is charged with plotting to
blow up the Herald Square subway station in 2004. His lawyers have
argued that he was entrapped by a paid police informer, a 50-year-old
Egyptian-born nuclear engineer who they say was the driving force
behind the plot. They have argued that their client was an inept dupe
who was not predisposed to commit an act of terrorism until the
informer inflamed him. (MORE)
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