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KFDM 6 :: News - Top Stories - Informant: NYPD paid me to 'bait' Muslims
Tuesday, October 23 2012, 09:59 AM CDT
Informant: NYPD paid me to 'bait' Muslims

NEW YORK (AP) - A paid informant for the New York Police Department's intelligence unit was under orders to "bait" Muslims into saying bad things as he lived a double life, snapping pictures inside mosques and collecting the names of innocent people attending study groups on Islam, he told The Associated Press.


Shamiur Rahman, a 19-year-old American of Bengali descent who has now denounced his work as an informant, said police told him to embrace a strategy called "create and capture." He said it involved creating a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the response to send to the NYPD. For his work, he earned as much as $1,000 a month and goodwill from the police after a string of minor marijuana arrests.


"We need you to pretend to be one of them," Rahman recalled the police telling him. "It's street theater."


Rahman, who said he plans to move to the Caribbean, said he now believes his work as an informant against Muslims in New York was "detrimental to the Constitution." After he disclosed to friends details about his work for the police - and after he told the police that he had been interviewed by the AP - he stopped receiving text messages from his NYPD handler, "Steve," and his handler's NYPD phone number was disconnected.


Rahman's account shows how the NYPD unleashed informants on Muslim neighborhoods, often without specific targets or criminal leads. Much of what Rahman said represents a tactic the NYPD has denied using.


The AP corroborated Rahman's account through arrest records and weeks of text messages between Rahman and his police handler. The AP also reviewed the photos Rahman sent to police. Friends confirmed Rahman was at certain events when he said he was there, and former NYPD officials, while not personally familiar with Rahman, said the tactics he described were used by informants.


Informants like Rahman are a central component of the NYPD's wide-ranging programs to monitor life in Muslim neighborhoods since the 2001 terrorist attacks. Police officers have eavesdropped inside Muslim businesses, trained video cameras on mosques and collected license plates of worshippers. Informants who trawl the mosques - known informally as "mosque crawlers" - tell police what the imam says at sermons and provide police lists of attendees, even when there's no evidence they committed a crime.


The programs were built with unprecedented help from the CIA.


Police recruited Rahman in late January, after his third arrest on misdemeanor drug charges, which Rahman believed would lead to serious legal consequences. An NYPD plainclothes officer approached him in a Queens jail and asked whether he wanted to turn his life around.


The next month, Rahman said, he was on the NYPD's payroll.


NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not immediately return a message seeking comment about Tuesday. He has denied widespread NYPD spying, saying police only follow leads.


In an Oct. 15 interview with the AP, however, Rahman said he received little training and spied on "everything and anyone." He took pictures inside the many mosques he visited and eavesdropped on imams. By his own measure, he said he was very good at his job and his handler never once told him he was collecting too much, no matter whom he was spying on.


Rahman said he thought he was doing important work protecting New York City and considered himself a hero.


One of his earliest assignments was to spy on a lecture at the Muslim Student Association at John Jay College in Manhattan. The speaker was Ali Abdul Karim, the head of security at the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn. The NYPD had been concerned about Karim for years and already had infiltrated the mosque, according to NYPD documents obtained by the AP.


Rahman also was instructed to monitor the student group itself, though he wasn't told to target anyone specifically. His NYPD handler, Steve, told him to take pictures of people at the events, determine who belonged to the student association and identify its leadership.


On Feb. 23, Rahman attended the event with Karim and listened, ready to catch what he called a "speaker's gaffe." The NYPD was interested in buzz words such as "jihad" and "revolution," he said. Any radical rhetoric, the NYPD told him, needed to be reported.


Talha Shahbaz, then the vice president of the student group, met Rahman at the event. As Karim was finishing his talk on Malcolm X's legacy, Rahman told Shahbaz that he wanted to know more about the student group. They had briefly attended the same high school in Queens.


Rahman said he wanted to turn his life around and stop using drugs, and said he believed Islam could provide a purpose in life. In the following days, Rahman friended him on Facebook and the two exchanged phone numbers. Shahbaz, a Pakistani who came to the U.S. more three years ago, introduced Rahman to other Muslims.


"He was telling us how he loved Islam and it's changing him," said Asad Dandia, who also became friends with Rahman.


Secretly, Rahman was mining his new friends for details about their lives, taking pictures of them when they ate at restaurants and writing down license plates on the orders of the NYPD.


On the NYPD's instructions, he went to more events at John Jay, including when Siraj Wahhaj spoke in May. Wahhaj, 62, is a prominent but controversial New York imam who has attracted the attention of authorities for years. Prosecutors included his name on a 3 ½-page list of people they said "may be alleged as co-conspirators" in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, though he was never charged. In 2004, the NYPD placed Wahhaj on an internal terrorism watch list and noted: "Political ideology moderately radical and anti-American."


That evening at John Jay, a friend took a photograph of Wahhaj with a grinning Rahman.


Rahman said he kept an eye on the MSA and used Shahbaz and his friends to facilitate traveling to events organized by the Islamic Circle of North America and Muslim American Society. The society's  annual convention in Hartford, Conn, draws a large number of Muslims and plenty of attention from the NYPD. According to NYPD documents obtained by the AP, the NYPD sent three informants there in 2008 and was keeping tabs on the group's former president.


Rahman was told to spy on the speakers and collect information. The conference was dubbed "Defending Religious Freedom." Shahbaz paid Rahman's travel expenses.


Rahman, who was born in Queens, said he never witnessed any criminal activity or saw anybody do anything wrong.


He said he sometimes intentionally misinterpreted what people had said. For example, Rahman said he would ask people what they thought about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, knowing the subject was inflammatory. It was easy to take statements out of context, he said. He said wanted to please his NYPD handler, whom he trusted and liked.


"I was trying to get money," Rahman said. "I was playing the game."


Rahman said police never discussed the activities of the people he was assigned to target for spying. He said police told him once, "We don't think they're doing anything wrong. We just need to be sure."


On some days, Rahman's spent hours and covered miles in his undercover role. On Sept. 16, for example, he made his way in the morning to the Al Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn, snapping photographs of an imam and the sign-up sheet for those attending a regular class on Islamic instruction. He also provided their cell phone numbers to the NYPD. That evening he spied on people at Masjid Al-Ansar, also in Brooklyn.


Text messages on his phone showed that Rahman also took pictures last month of people attending the 27th annual Muslim Day Parade in Manhattan. The parade's grand marshal was New York City Councilman Robert Jackson.


Rahman said he eventually tired of spying on his friends, noting that at times they delivered food to needy Muslim families. He said he once identified another NYPD informant spying on him. He took $200 more from the NYPD and told them he was done as an informant. He said the NYPD offered him more money, which he declined. He told friends on Facebook in early October that he had been a police spy but had quit. He also traded Facebook messages with Shahbaz, admitting he had spied on students at John Jay.


"I was an informant for the NYPD, for a little while, to investigate terrorism," he wrote on Oct. 2. He said he no longer thought it was right. Perhaps he had been hunting terrorists, he said, "but I doubt it."


"I hated that I was using people to make money," Rahman said. "I made a mistake."


___
ADAM GOLDMAN
Associated Press


Staff writer David Caruso in New York contributed to this story.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)



 

Informant: NYPD paid me to 'bait' Muslims

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Lamar State College honor graduates

Monitoring area of low pressure in Atlantic

State Fire Marshal investigating Jasper fire

One out of five college women victim of sexual assault

Injured Winnie teen determined to walk again

Gov. Rick Perry went for ice cream after being released from jail

Crimestoppers: Do you recognize man in video?

End of an era: Quality Cafe in Beaumont closing

After March fire, HFISD Elementary ready for new school year

St. Louis officer shoots, kills man wielding knife

Gov. Perry to surrender this afternoon

Johnny Manziel says obscene gesture toward Redkins shows lapse of judgment

1 missing, 3 rescued when shrimp boat overturns

New clashes between police, protestors in Ferguson

BISD meeting on proposed cuts: police and athletics deparments

Ford Park maintenance management questioned

Another Beaumont vacant house arson; 11th arson case in August

Honoring legendary football official Beau Hicks with Lifetime Achievement Award

Jefferson County Judge Larry Gist receives highest honor

American Red Cross chapters now under new leadership

American's Next Top Model contestant Will Jardell from Nederland survived the cut

BISD staff returns for new school year

LU president says enrollment is up

Bridge City residents still having problems with water; city working to fix water problems

Judge Gist receives State Bar Lifetime Achievement Award

CNN: No arrest warrant will be issued for Governor Perry, no mugshot or jail booking immediately required

New details from private autopsy done on Michael Brown

Fire destroys Jasper home

Port Neches police investigate 88-year old man's death

Foster kids learn how to sail

Port Arthur police investigating murder

Team coverage of Gov. Rick Perry's indictment; hear from politicians, his attorney, Facebook fans and others

Click here to read the indictment against Governor Rick Perry

Former Orange County youth minister set to serve more prison time than expected

Statement from Gov. Rick Perry's office on his indictment; his attorneys issue statements

Couple stranded overnight on isolated stretch of beach

BREAKING NEWS: Gov. Rick Perry indicted

Jury acquits driver in intoxication manslaughter case

Man Orange city police say robbed a pizza deliverly driver is now in custody

New details about events leading up to shooting of Michael Brown

Ferguson chief names officer who fatally shot Michael Brown

Beaumont's 100 Plus Black Women Coalition gives school supplies to families in need

Late night deliberately set fire heavily damages vacant Beaumont home, injures firefighter

Restaurant Report: Aug. 15, 2014

Video of gas pump problems reaches hundreds

Mayor Becky Ames and Larry Beaulieu take ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and get drenched in ice cold water

Beaumont firefighters on scene tonight of another vacant house fire

Port Arthur ISD sets November bond election

Free legal advice for veterans

Jefferson County district attorney reduces his budget request

Port Arthur officials discuss taking legal action against former BISD contractor Calvin Walker

Jefferson County judge Nancy Beaulieu honored

Enrollment up at St. Anne Catholic School

Drug bust in Jasper

Cheech & Chong and WAR show cancelled

Woman pleads guilty to staging car accident and receiving money from insurance claim

Mosquitoes in PA test postive for St. Louis Encephalitis

Average gasoline price continues dropping in SETX

Another vacant house fire in Beaumont

Beaumont church music director resigns; accused of sexual assault of a child

Dr. Timothy Chargois resigns as BISD superintendent

KFDM obtains copy of Dr. Timothy Chargois' voluntary separation agreement with BISD

New Black Panthers rally for man accused in death of Alfred Wright

Former youth minister will go to prison

Judge recovering at home

Nederland man pleads guility to wire fraud

Driver in critical condition following Tram Road crash

One driver critically hurt in collision on Eastex Freeway service road

PA auto repair business owner pleads guilty to federal wire fraud

LUPD reveals new details about robbery of student near campus

Pay it Forward: Aug. 13, 2014

American's Next Top Model male contestant from SETX

Jury decides on 15 year sentence for former youth minister who sexually assaulted two teen students

Family of Shane Hadnot, members of New Black Panther Party rally outside federal courthouse

Rally in support of man indicted for selling drugs linked to Alfred Wright's death

BISD athletics and police department on the table

Jury expected to decide fate of youth pastor Wednesday

Fans remember Robin Williams, death highlights larger issue

Hollywood actress Lauren Bacall has died

Crimestoppers asking for your help

Link for information about suicide prevention

City of Beaumont working to improve deteriorating roads

Gift of Life Color Rush cancer prevention awareness event Oct. 11

Time to get your new hunting and fishing licenses

Man dies after fall on ship docked in Beaumont

Grand jury takes no action in Juneteenth celebration complaint

Join KFDM's immigration town hall live stream this Thursday

Wife says Judge Dunn returning home from Houston on Tuesday following treatment for flesh-eating bacteria

BISD seeking community input on budget

Woman jailed on charges of stabbing another woman

Former Orange County youth minister charged with sexual assault of a child in court

Police investigating church burglary

Local charity helping immigrant children crossing the U.S. border

Need help with your Entergy electric bill?

Local disabled child left alone in car

Actor, comedian Robin Williams found dead

History being made in the cattle industry

Man high on PCP gets 30 years for firing shots while young daughters were at home

Beaumont Health Department extends hours for immunizations

Six killed in Houston-area collision

Mini-van overturns following downtown Beaumont collision

Valero investigating cause of product release

Mother arrested after police say she left her special needs child in vehicle

Family and friends of drowning victim install life rings on fishing pier

Back to School shopping starts with tax free weekend

Apartment community stunned by stabbing

Port Arthur police officer on paid administrative leave

Stabbing victim in critical condition

Wright family protests suspect's arrest in Houston

Authorities say local man who preys on elderly indicted

State says local schools need improvement

U.S. Attorney releases information about indictment in Wright death

Silsbee police looking for three men to question about Walmart thefts

Who's putting blood to good use

Live coverage: Alfred Wright rally in Houston

Click here for link to TEA accountability ratings

Local boy celebrates 10-year anniversary of bone marrow transplant

Jefferson County man indicted for possessing lego-shaped blocks of synthetic marijuana

How to "Be The Match"

Restaurant Report: Aug. 8, 2014

How Orange County judge with flesh-eating bacteria is doing

Stabbing at Crystal Beach

Wright family holds rally in Houston

Click here to read full indictment of suspect linked to death of Alfred Wright

KFDM obtains Wright family statements about indictment linked to his death

First day of tax-free shopping

Judge Dunn's family says no more surgery necessary for treatment of flesh-eating bacteria

Boil Water Notice for Bolivar Peninsula

Wright family says feds to announce indictment of man accused of selling drugs that led to death

BPD: Lindberg overpass closed after train crashes into bridge pillar

KFDM News obtains indictment for three former BISD employees

Committee presents PAISD board with $195M bond plan

I-10 UPDATE: See how long highway will be closed?

Neighborhood reacts to credit union robbery

Shooting vicim recovering, accused attackers linked to more crime

Are your taxes going to rise in Jefferson County?

Toddler killed after horse kicked him

Driver rescued by two Good Samaritans

Tax free shopping starts Friday

Two 18-wheelers involved in accident on I-10, roads shutdown

More marijuana discovered in Polk County after historical bust

Bingman Head Start will not close for the 2014-2015 school year

KFDM.com online streaming temporarily down

Police release pictures of credit union robber

3-year-old killed by kick from horse

Robber strikes Beaumont credit union

Two people rescue man when truck plunges into canal

Average gasoline price drops in Beaumont, state

Road Trippin' at Main Street Veterinarian Clinic in Lumberton

Road Trippin' with Tom Wright at the Lumberton Dome

Mother opens up about son electrocuted on the job

Another BISD employee resigns

Little Ali's birthday wish; How you can celebrate with her

Second Beaumont house arson in one day; fire department asking for your help

BISD interim superintendent discusses how he plans to move forward

Judge transferred to Houston hospital to continue fight againt flesh-eating bacteria

Federal grand jury indicts three former BISD employees

Four men indicted in connection with Burkeville bank robbery where bank employee stabbed

Wednesday night house fire second arson case of the day in Beaumont

Hemphill man indicted in connection with crash that killed passenger in his car

Sister of contract worker killed in accident speaks

Kountze cheerleaders case heading to Texas Supreme Court

Fire investigators ask for help before vacant structures burn

Congress fails to reach agreement on how much money to spend on immigration crisis

Federal grand jury indicts four bank robbery suspects

Names released of workers electrocuted in Village Mills

Lauren Huet reports live from site of workers' electrocutions in Village Mills

Three contract workers electrocuted in Village Mills

Judge undergoing more surgery in fight against flesh-eating bacteria

18 wheeler overturns in Silsbee

Cause of house fire appears to be deliberate

Justice of the peace recovering from flesh-eating bacteria

BISD board of managers considering what to cut

Republican Brandon Creighton, of Conroe, wins the Texas Senate District 4 seat

New developments in home invasion robbery, shooting of couple

Health Department extends hours for childhood vaccines

Bridge City businesses, residents complain about brown water during city council meeting

Port Arthur firefighters train for high angle rescues

Jasper school renovation project includes new gym, classrooms

New traffic lights for safety of Lumberton students

Local bank donates $50,000 to help families of officers killed in line of duty

Southeast Texas chemical plants help outreach organizations

Bridge City residents take to social media for brown water complaints

BISD and Workforce Solutions set up workshops to help teachers laid off

BISD schools moving and merging

Bikers hold fundraiser for fellow rider and family

Deputies: Liberty County drug bust, also turns up tens of thousands of dollars

Fire in Vidor destroys home, displaces family

Community members react to Newton County Sheriff indictment

Lumberton Dome almost finished

Community reacts to more than 100 BISD job cuts

Family turns to community in wake of tragedy

Researchers at UTMB Galveston work to develop Ebola vaccine

Preventing a heatstroke

Beaumont man's transformation after losing 440 lbs

New way of buying produce becoming popular in SETX

BISD's new way of doing business with vendors

Want to save money and help the environment? Learn about TxDOT's app

KFDM reporter questions Calvin Walker after his release from jail; what he had to say

Beaumont City Council delayed a vote that would give a cemetery more land

Polk County marijuana bust setting record in Texas

Missed our 6 p.m. broadcast? See live team coverage of indictment against Calvin Walker

Crimestoppers searching for woman burglar caught on surveillance video

Man steals deputy's car ends up back in jail within an hour

Warrant roundup targets drivers with unpaid traffic citations

PAISD teachers attend workshop to prepare for new school year

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Business News

Ebola threat, poor manufacturing reports, drive markets down

UNDATED (AP) -- Financial markets got off to a rough start in October as disappointing economic news and Ebola fears drove stocks lower.

Consumer News

   WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- (Marketwired) -- 03/21/14 --
 Companies that pride themselves on being eco-friendly may have conflicted
 ideas between marketing with ad specialties and maintaining their green
 reputation. ...

Entertainment News

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK-AUTHOR

LOWELL, Mass. (AP) -- She isn't doing spoilers.

Get This

MEAT THIEF

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. (AP) -- Is that a roast beef in your pants?

Science/Tech News

IN THE NEWS: FACEBOOK APOLOGIZES TO DRAG QUEENS AND TRANSGENDER

NEW YORK (AP) -- Facebook is trying to save face with drag queens and transgender persons.


 

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KFDM 6 NEWS AT 6
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WHEEL OF FORTUNE
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BIG BANG THEORY
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The Millers
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Two and a Half Men
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Elementary
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