Tuesday, September 10, 2013

An Analysis on Fighting Domestic Terrorism

Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman. Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Uit and Bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America. New York: Touchstone, Simon and Schuster, 2013.

The authors find that New York Police Department’s (NYPD) counterterrorism efforts are invasive, concentrating on gathering information on innocent people, and counterproductive. The data gathered does not lead to insights on real threats.

Highly classified information is stored in Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities or SCIF. There are thousands of these facilities nationwide. They have separate utility lines to avoid detection About 100 agents work in New York’s SCIF.

NYPD’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is often not informed on what the Intelligence Division, or NYPD Intel, knows. There is much secrecy in how the NYPC Intel operates. City Council and the media ask few questions about it The Division has about 400 employees ad a $43 million annual budget (circa 2005). NYPD Intel often doesn’t share information with the FBI, which gives the FBI little time to take action or develop cases if suspects leave New York City.

NYPD Intel views the FBI as a relic. NYPD Intel believes new methods should be used. These are methods the FBI does not do such as indefinite imprisonment without charges in secret jails and using torture in interrogations.

William Odom of the National Security Agency criticized the FBI for preferring to make arrests over following criminals for gaining intelligence.

David Cohen, NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence, was named o create the new NYPD Intel division in 2001. Cohen came from the analytical office of the CIA.

NYPD was involved in Cointelpro, which spied on liberal organizations that ay have connections to radicals It was concluded that foreign influences were not involved in the anti-war and civil rights movements, as theorized by Cointelpro. Instead, it was the CIA that violated the law by spying on Americans. The authors see similar attributes to Cointelpro re-emerging in NYPD Intel.

NYPD Intel no longer needed, as was required before, to have a three judge panel give prior approval to its actions The panel would handle only allegations against NYPD Intel made afterwards.

NYPD was allowed to visit public gatherings. THey were not to keep files on innocent people. THey could only document criminal activity. NYPD hired officers who spoke Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu to be attuned to community events and rallies held in those languages. This was known as the Demographics Unit.

It was presumed the New York City Council would never approve sending NYPD officers to foreign countries, and this permission was never sought, Instead, a private foundation, the New York Police Foundation, raised funds for international travel of NYPD officers. The fashion industry especially favored this for using undercover officers on trips to combat counterfeit fashion items.

The Demographic Unit found no criminal cases The reports were full of mistakes. There were no leads on terrorist cells found. They knew where Muslims lived, businesses they owned, and where they prayed, but no where terrorists were.

Hezbollah in New York is a criminal gang that creates fake designer clothes and sells black market cigarettes. It was not found to be a part of any immediate terrorist threat.

In 2007, NYPD published a report. It concluded a person became a terrorist through pre-radicalization to identifying oneself to indoctrination to joining jihad. It warned that politically active fundamentalist Islamics could become extremists. It saw students and middle class Muslims as potential candidates for being transformed into terrorists. THis stuck many as similar to the thinking in the 1970s that al leftists were potential dangerous radicals.

Muslim cafes that aired Al Jazeera were considered suspicious. Muslim cafes that did not air Al Jazerra were also deemed suspicious as it was believed they might be deliberately avoiding suspicion.

An Iman who declared Islam as the only true religion was considered suspicious. This ignores Catholic doctrine that salvation is available only through Catholicism and the Protestant tenet that Christ alone is the religious answer

NYPD was especially concerned with Wahhabism and Salafism, who are strict followers of Mohammed’s teachings.

The FBI arrested three people for planning to blow up a New York subway sttion. THey were convicted. None of the three were on the NYPD Intel list of suspects.

The arrest of an American who joined al-Qaeda noted that it was possible for someone to go to al-Qaeda and gain their confidence and join them. This reduced the hypothesis that the only way to join al-Qaeda was working one’s way through radicalization through moving through a pipeline of organizations and activities.

The FBI with NSA intelligence working with NYPD and Colorado State Police arrested two people planning on becoming suicide bombers. Cooperative efforts with proper intelligence appears to the authors to be the best method to combating terrorism.


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