When a New Jersey building super spotted an apartment lacking in furniture and clothing but filled with surveillance equipment and Muslim literature, he assumed it was a terrorist hideout, but what he had discovered was a New York police safe house. In the latest installment of their series of reports on the New York Police Department's surveillance of Muslims, The Associated Press' Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman share the details of superintendent Salil Sheth's call to New Jersey's emergency response system after stumbling onto a suspicious apartment in New Brunswick, near the Rutgers campus (that's the building, above). He sounds like a man responsibly applying the "see something, say something" motto of the Department of Homeland Security, paying attention the Eight Signs of Terrorism, outlined by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. The first of those: Surveillance. And you could probably apply no. 5: "suspicious people who do not belong."
"There's computer hardware, software, you know, just laying around," Sheth told the 911 dispatcher, according to The AP. "There's pictures of terrorists. There's pictures of our neighboring building that they have." The apartment was suspicious, he said, "in the sense that the apartment has about — has no furniture except two beds, has no clothing, has New York City Police Department radios." When you put it like that the place sure does sound like a terrorist den, especially since nobody had any idea the cops were working in New Brunswick. So, naturally, the FBI responded, as did New Brunswick police. In the end, New Jersey decided the NYPD had done nothing wrong in setting up a surveillance operation there and spying on students in secret. But they sure could have done better at their undercover techniques if they wanted to stay secret.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.