The NYPD Is Spying on Muslim College Students

Today there is yet another in an astonishing series of revelations from the Associated Press on the extent of the NYPD's illegal surveillance of Muslims: The city is sending undercover cops into local colleges to spy on Muslim students. Why? Because they're Muslims!

At this point, you should know that if you are a Muslim and you live in New York City, there is an NYPD undercover behind you RIGHT NOW. As the AP has previously reported, the NYPD has imported tactics and personnel from the CIA to set up a massive surveillance operation that the CIA itself is legally barred from creating—casing Muslim cafes, pulling over Pakistani cab drivers for routine infractions and pressuring them to become informants, and even tailing moderate Muslim allies while they dine with the mayor.

Today's story, by Chris Hawley and Matt Apuzzo, finds the NYPD infiltrating the city's colleges, using undercover agents to penetrate various Muslim Student Associations. But surely they had a good reason, right?

The NYPD's intelligence division first turned its attention to colleges after receiving sketchy information that a student wanted to be a "martyr," according to a law enforcement official familiar with the program who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the program. But police never found this person and did not bring cases charging Muslim student groups with training terrorists, the official said.

The search for this "marty" led the NYPD to monitor members of MSAs at local schools, including Brooklyn College, CUNY, Hunter College, and Queens College. Cops stalked them online, chatted them up in message boards, and sent undercover agents to meetings. All so they could keep tabs on terrorist paintball games.

The documents show police were worried about "militant paintball trips" organized by Muslim students at Brooklyn College. The Justice Department has in the past accused would-be terrorists of using paintball games as a sort of paramilitary training. But current and former officials said there was no standard for what kind of paintball trips the NYPD considered militant.

An old website formerly used by the group shows photos from one of these trips to a paintball range in Jim Thorpe, Pa. An announcement for an upcoming trip gives strategy tips like separating players into offensive and defensive lines. It jokingly describes the "luxurious cheesebus" members will ride in and advises them to check "the back of your 'Fruit of the Loom'" for equipment sizes.

Islamic Society members said it has been years since members did any organized paintball trips. They scoffed at the NYPD report, noting that the club has also organized basketball, football and cricket games in the past.

When the NYPD wanted to know more than its snitches could gather, it lied to the schools, seeking information on particular students under the pretense that it was conducting a gang or drug investigation. The schools that cooperated, the AP says, could have broken a federal law barring schools from releasing students' information without their consent. If they did, they could lose all federal funding. The cops also apparently violated a 1992 memorandum of understanding between the NYPD and CUNY barring the department from undercover work on campus.

[Image via Getty]