Civil rights activists are speaking out about revelations that an undercover detective with the New York Police Department “converted” to Islam in order to spy on Muslim students at Brooklyn College over a four-year period.
That work led to the arrest of two Queens women allegedly involved in a terrorist bomb plot.
The NYPD has already been under fire for running a demographics unit which conducted blanket surveillance of the Muslim community after 9/11 in New York and New Jersey, despite such activity being in violation of the Constitution.
“The problem has been that the courts who are tasked with determining what is and what is not unconstitutional, illegal – and what is and is not entrapment – have been complicit, and have expanded the prosecutorial and police powers to engage in predatory practices against Muslim communities in particular,” human rights attorney Lamis Deek told RT.
“While under law and logic this would be considered entrapment. If you look at the complaint, it is clear this case is entrapment. Unfortunately, we are not going to find a court or a judge to do that,” Deek added.
The revelations about the NYPD’s undercover operation came from a Justice Department release announcing the arrest of two Queens women on conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction in April 2015. It revealed that a detective from the NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau was heavily involved in bringing the women to justice and foiling the bomb plot, according to the Gothamist.
“The work of the NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau, its undercover Detective, and its seamless collaboration with the Special Agents and the Detectives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force…should serve as a model for early detection and prevention of terrorist plotting,” said NYPD Commissioner William Bratton in the release.
Deek said that in a case like these women, where the plot is manufactured and orchestrated by a confidential informant – in this case, the officer went by “Mel” – and those working with the informant, law enforcement will make sure that the defendants’ lives are so “infiltrated” and controlled that they behave in a way that ensures they can have no defense.
“The law says that if defendants speak about political issues that relate to the case then [they] are predisposed to engaging in these acts, and that predisposition overcomes [their] defense of entrapment,” said Deek.
The Justice Department alleged the women had researched how to construct bombs to use as a weapon of mass destruction on American soil. They obtained bomb-making instructions and materials, and used instructions provided by Al-Qaeda’s online magazine.
Deeks said that what is telling about the complaint is that the NYPD informant, Mel, had been working around young people at the college for four years. Yet, there was no issue or suspicious activity until she met the two Queens women who were ultimately arrested in July 2014.
“The complaint only lists actions that these two girls took from August onwards, from the time they met this undercover informant and she built a relationship with them,” Deek said. “What we see instead is the Joint Terrorism Task Force informant was in the very least inciting them to engage in these actions that would later lead to their arrest.”