A teenage spy for the New York Police Department says he was under orders to "create and capture" terrorist suspects by befriending fellow Muslims and "baiting" them with talk about jihad. Shamiur Rahman tells Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo of the Associated Press that he earned as much as $1,000 a month by surveilling mosques and Islamic study groups, taking pictures and collecting names of innocent people. The 19-year-old was born in Queens to Bengali parents and said he was recruited from jail after a series of minor drug arrests.
Rahman claims he became one of the NYPD's "mosque crawlers"—informants who move around the tri-state area sitting in on lectures to record what local imams say in sermons and keeping of track of who is in attendance He says he took photographs of sign-in sheets to gather names and shared phone numbers of those he met with the police. He was encouraged to talk to other Muslims about things like "jihad," "terrorism" and "revolution" and report back about the reactions.
However, Rahman says he also inflated his "intelligence" to impress his handlers and earn more money. He would intentionally take comments that were made to him out of context, saying that was all part of "playing the game."
New York's police force has been heavily criticized for its aggressive surveillance of local Muslims, even traveling outside of the city to spy on mosques and other Islamic communities without cause. And while city officials brag that they have stopped more than a dozen planned terrorist attacks on the city, that figure has been questioned by those who argue that many of those "plots" were ill-conceived, abandoned, never seriously pursued, or were actually suggested and planned by law enforcement agents looking to entrap suspects. Just last week, a man was arrested for trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan, using a fake bomb provided to him by the FBI, in a strategy that some consider entrapment.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.