In this photo taken Sept. 2, 2011, people walk past immigrant Arab businesses on Steinway Street in the Astoria neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York. The New York Police Department has subjected American citizens to surveillance and scrutiny, not because of any wrongdoing but because of their ethnicity. Documents obtained by The Associated Press describe a secret program known as the Moroccan Initiative, which catalogued where people of Moroccan ancestry shopped, ate and prayed. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
EW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department put American citizens under surveillance and scrutinized where they ate, prayed and worked, not because of charges of wrongdoing but because of their ethnicity, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The documents describe in extraordinary detail a secret program intended to catalog life inside Muslim neighborhoods as people immigrated, got jobs, became citizens and started businesses. The documents undercut the NYPD’s claim that its officers only follow leads when investigating terrorism.
It started with one group, Moroccans, but the documents show police intended to build intelligence files on other ethnicities.
Undercover officers snapped photographs of restaurants frequented by Moroccans, including one that was noted for serving “religious Muslims.” Police documented where Moroccans bought groceries, which hotels they visited and where they prayed. While visiting an apartment used by new Moroccan immigrants, an officer noted in his reports that he saw two Qurans and a calendar from a nearby mosque.
It was called the Moroccan Initiative.
The information was recorded in NYPD computers, officials said, so that if police ever received a specific tip about a Moroccan terrorist, officers looking for him Login to read more