Eight New Jersey Muslims filed a lawsuit against New York Police Department to end their anti-terrorist surveillance, which targets Muslims after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The NYPD’s intelligence-gathering practices are violating their constitutional rights because it singles out Muslims.
This is the first lawsuit to fully challenge the NYPD and their intentions. The surveillance program includes Muslim communities in the surrounding New York and New Jersey area. From the Associate Press (AP), “NYPD conducted wholesale surveillance of entire Muslim neighborhoods, chronicling daily life including where people ate, prayed and got their hair cut. Police infiltrated dozens of mosques and Muslim student groups and investigated hundreds more.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the actions conducted by the NYPD’s intelligence program were deemed legal by New Jersey attorney general’s office.
One of the plaintiffs, Syed Farhaj Hassan has stated that he stopped attending mosque in concerns that anything would link him to being a possible terrorist, “Guilty by association was forced on me.”
Hassan is in the Army reserve outside of New Brunswick, N.J. He completed a tour in Iraq, and his duty as a soldier he is “suppose to protect the Constitution of the U.S.”
“NYPD activities in New Jersey were lawful, appropriate, and in keeping with efforts there, in New York, and around the world to prevent terrorists from returning here to kill more New Yorkers,” Paul Browne, NYPD spokesman, said.
“It's such an unfair thing going on: Here I am, I am an American citizen, I was born here, I am law abiding, I volunteer in my community, I have dialogues and good relationships with Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and the NYPD here is surveilling people like me?" 19-year-old Moiz Mohammed, a sophomore at Rutgers University, stated. Mohammed joined the lawsuit after he read reports that Muslim student groups across the Northeast—including his own—were under surveillance.
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said the lawsuit could pose a challenge. Convincing the government that NYPD’s practices were illegal because security measures as well as surveillance techniques have increased since the 9/11 attacks.