Police Cyber Unit Sued for Hate
- NY: LAWSUIT SAYS NYPD ANTI-TERROR CYBER UNIT FILLED WITH MUSLIM HATE
NEW YORK -- A celebrated police anti-terrorism cyber unit became a
beehive of anti-Muslim rhetoric after a city consultant unleashed
hundreds of hateful e-mails saying Muslims and Arabs were all
potential terrorists, a unit member said in a lawsuit Tuesday.
The Department of Correction lieutenant, listed as John Doe
Anti-Terrorism Officer on the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in
Manhattan, said he was subjected to a hostile work environment, great
emotional anguish, public humiliation and illegal retaliation.
The Egyptian-born man asked for unspecified damages, saying he had
suffered severe emotional distress, mental anguish, depression,
physical injuries, illness, loss of pay and benefits and loss of
advancement opportunities as a member of the elite anti-terror unit.
The man, described in the lawsuit as "a proud Arab-American, a
practicing Muslim and a patriot," blamed the city for failing to
respond to his repeated complaints about the contractor, who was
alleged to have sent e-mails saying "Burning the hate-filled Koran
should be viewed as a public service at the least" and "Without Islam,
there wouldn't be any Islamic terror."
He said the hateful rhetoric, unchecked by supervisors, infected the
workplace, where other employees felt comfortable making anti-Muslim
comments and jokes and where a high-ranking police official thought it
was OK to say, "All Arabs are animals."
A city law office spokeswoman, Connie Pankratz, said city attorneys
were aware of the case and were reviewing the papers Tuesday.
The police department said it immediately blocked an e-mail account
when it became aware of a complaint about the content of e-mail "sent
by an individual not employed by the department."
"We took immediate action to block his e-mails, followed by a cease
and desist letter to the individual and his employer, a consulting
firm," the police department's chief spokesman, Paul Browne, said in a
The lawsuit said the lieutenant had not always suffered. It said he
was awarded a certificate of outstanding duty in October 2001 for his
"heroic efforts following the World Trade Center disaster."
It said he had a primary role in launching the cyber unit of the New
York Police Department's intelligence division, where he is assigned a
top-level security clearance and works undercover to protect his safety.
According to the lawsuit, the lieutenant believed he was living the
American dream as he identified terrorist threats to the city two
decades after arriving in the United States and more than a decade
after gaining citizenship in 1990.
Recruited to join a federal law enforcement task force in 1998 because
he speaks Arabic and has extensive cultural knowledge of the Arab and
Muslim communities, the lieutenant helped launch the cyber unit after
the Sept. 11 attacks, the lawsuit said.
Since the summer of 2002, the lieutenant has faced "almost daily,
virulent anti-Muslim and anti-Arab harassment in his workplace," the
lawsuit said. Much of the abuse originated with a consultant hired by
the police to act as a counterterrorism adviser, it said.
On an almost daily basis, the consultant sent discriminatory
anti-Muslim and anti-Arab e-mail briefings to the lieutenant, his
colleagues and his supervisors stating that Muslims and Arab Americans
were untrustworthy and could not reliably serve in law enforcement,
the lawsuit said.
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