The Muslim groups that brought this suit in the first place had tremendous media sympathy, and they still ended up losing in court. They ran up against a judge who sensibly observed that “the police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself.” And that is the point of the suit and of this new appeal as well: to clear away obstacles to jihad activity, so that the jihad can advance unimpeded.
“Muslim residents and businesses appeal legality of police surveillance program,” by Hannan Adely for The Record, March 21:
NEWARK — A group of Muslim residents, imams and businesses in New Jersey have appealed last month’s ruling by a U.S. District Court judge to dismiss their case against the City of New York that challenged the legality of a police surveillance program.
The appeal was filed Friday morning, one month after Judge William Martini dismissed Hassan v. City of New York, which alleged that surveillance by New York City police violated constitutional rights by targeting Muslims on the basis of religion.
Martini said the plaintiffs did not show discrimination or injury, and that any harm they suffered would have been caused not by the surveillance itself, but by news reporting of the secret surveillance by the Associated Press. The appeal was filed in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
The AP obtained documents and wrote a series of stories starting in August 2011 that revealed a vast surveillance program across state lines. The NYPD secretly monitored Muslims at businesses, universities and mosques, including ones in Paterson and Newark, as well as student groups at 16 Northeast colleges, including Rutgers University, according to documents obtained by the AP.
Police allegedly listened in on sermons and conversations at mosques and reported back what they heard. Officers also recorded license plate numbers, mounted cameras on light poles, mapped and photographed mosques, and listed ethnic makeup of businesses in police reports, and they monitored student websites and emails.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Police Department maintained that the surveillance program was legal and necessary and that police collected information that was publicly available to know where terrorists might go to lie low. The police used informants only to follow leads, they said.
Lead plaintiff Syed Farhaj Hassan, an Iraq war veteran and a military intelligence specialist, said he was concerned that being associated with a mosque under surveillance would blemish his record and jeopardize his job and security clearance.
A principal said she believed her career prospects had been hurt because of her association with two girls’ schools that were under surveillance. Also, the Muslim Students Association said students did not feel secure joining the group or participating in events or discussions, and businesses claimed they lost customers.
Hassan v. City of New York was the first lawsuit to challenge the NYPD surveillance program. It was initially filed by Muslim Advocates and later joined by Center for Constitutional Rights.