On the front page of Sunday's New York Times was a hysterical article charging the New York Police Department with trampling Muslim civil rights by trying to recruit Muslims who had been arrested on other charges to be informants. The headline screamed "New York Police Recruit Muslims as Informants on Terrorism" and proceeded to "expose" the "profiling of Muslims" by the NYPD to serve as potential informants from within their communities. Reporter Joseph Goldstein interviewed people who had been questioned by police and found the exercise "coercive."
NYPD records show "that religion had become a normal topic of police inquiry in the city's holding cells and lockup facilities," the story said. Police reports noted which mosque a suspect attended or whether he "had made a pilgrimage to Mecca." The story did not say why this is inherently problematic and how this differs from policing on everything from drug peddling to organized crime. But its appearance on Sunday's front page -- on the right column above the fold -- tells readers that this is a big deal.
The article implied that Muslims were being singled out by law-enforcement officials because of their religion, and that they were asked invasive and improper questions about their religion.
Freedom of the press is limited to those who own it, H.L. Mencken once said, an axiom that The Times has demonstrated repeatedly by routinely deprecating the threat of "Islamic terrorism" in the United States. For years, The Times has blindly pursued an agenda that coincides with the same agenda of radical Islamic groups masquerading as "civil rights" groups in trying to prove that Islamic terrorists were unfairly convicted and framed.
Ignoring the facts about U.S. law enforcement techniques that apply to all members of divergent ethnic and religious groups to collect intelligence, Goldstein reported on what he presented as the improper questioning of Muslims held in jails. Amazingly, the paper did not question at all the credibility of the allegations perpetrated by those he interviewed, all of whom had been arrested and jailed for violating laws, including an NYPD sergeant convicted of perjury in the fabricated hunt for scoundrels in the NYPD.
As part of the paranoid Times narrative, the reporter portrayed as unethical and racist the tried and proven law-enforcement technique of recruiting informants among different ethnic population pools. The same tactic is applied in the fight against illegal gangs, druggies, and criminal organizations: street gangs, Mexican drug cartels, Japanese yakuza gangs, Italian mafia, etc. Recruiting members of different ethnic and racial groups to infiltrate gangs and criminals has been a successful, legal and proven technique of collecting vital intelligence by law-enforcement officials across the country.
For The New York Times to claim that recruiting jailed Muslims as informants in their own communities is somehow racist is manifestly disingenuous and dishonest. Pat Dunleavy should know. He served as deputy inspector-general of the New York State Department of Corrections.
"I can emphatically state that arrestees have been asked the question 'what is your religion' for over 40 years," he said in an interview. "It is a core part of the initial intake assessment of an individual about to be admitted to a jail. It goes part and parcel with height, weight, color of eyes, ethnicity, etc."
The reporter wants readers to believe that this only applies to Muslims.
Why? It goes along with the radical Islamic narrative -- perpetrated by radical Islamic groups masquerading as "civil rights groups" -- that Muslims are being singled out arbitrarily by police and intelligence officials. This is demonstrably false, as evidenced by the informants the NYPD has recruited in the Russian, Chinese, black, and Italian communities.
In the Times story, the paper's agenda converged with wild conspiracy charges by Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the United States, who allege that Muslims are arrested driven by "Islamophobia." This is defined as a pervasive and racist fear of Muslims throughout America orchestrated by a secret cabal of allegedly "anti-Muslim activists" (of which I have been accused of being a member).
Well, guess what? Just last week the State Department issued its annual report on terrorist groups and attacks: Of the 54 foreign terrorist organizations listed for 2013, 39 (72.2 percent) were Islamic. And in the last annual report on international terrorism issued by the National Counter Terrorism Center, its statistics showed that more than 70 percent of all international terrorist groups were Islamic. Of the top 10 most wanted FBI terrorists, eight are Muslim, and New York, since 9/11, has been subject to more Islamic terrorist plots -- more than 40 -- than any other city in the United States.
The Times deliberately omitted numerous examples of successful cases in which intelligence gathered from speaking to an individual in jail led to the thwarting of a terrorist act.
In the case of the Newburgh Four, now a cause du jour for those naive Hollywood know-nothings, the question of religion, as Dunleavy pointed out, was core to the identification of the leader of the plot, James Cromitie. The four were indicted and convicted of a plot to bomb synagogues and shoot down National Guard aircraft. But as much as their defenders cried entrapment, the courts have affirmed the guilt of these terrorists. Still, the incontrovertible evidence against the Newburgh Four did not stop the Tribeca Film Festival from awarding a "documentary" that claimed they were innocent and had been framed because they were Muslim. Predictably, HBO is now going to air this propaganda.
(Curiously, HBO had a different attitude on Islamic terrorism some 16 years ago. When I was an associate producer on the 1998 HBO docudrama "Path to Paradise," about the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, HBO was petrified of potential radical Islamic retribution. As a result, it pulled its hundreds of thousands of dollars of advertising and hired security guards at all of its offices around the country.)
As court records show, Islamic terrorists had close ties to Islamic leaders and mosques in their communities. Prison records show that El Sayyid Nosair, who assassinated Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1991 and later participated in the 1993 World Trade Center plot, had been affiliated with several radical mosques and Islamic leaders. Rashid Baz, the Islamic terrorist who shot up a bus of Jewish students on the Brooklyn Bridge, killing 17-year-old Ari Halberstam, had heard a sermon encouraging the killing of Jews at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge's mosque the previous Friday night.
In a one-year exhaustive investigation of mosques whose members or leaders participated in terrorist plots, the Investigative Project on Terrorism found that scores of Islamic terrorists plotted their attacks in mosques in their own communities. Most recently, in the case of the terrorist who plotted the blow up the Capitol, the Justice Department censored prosecutorial indictments that revealed that the conspirator had prayed at one of the most radical mosques in the United States, Dar al–Hijrah in northern Virginia, which has been associated with some of the most violent plots in the United States since 9/11. All references to the mosque in the prosecutor's indictment were ordered censored by Justice Department headquarters.
The Times has long been an echo chamber for radical Islamists seeking to deceive Americans that radical Islam is not a problem.
New York Times reporters have secretly collaborated with radical Islamic leaders. During the height of the Ground Zero mosque controversy in September 2010, Ingrid Mattson, then head of the Islamic Society of North America -- a group which the FBI had identified as a secret arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, and which was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas money-laundering case -- revealed in an internal email the advice she confidentially received from Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein, who was then covering the Ground Zero Mosque controversy.
On Sept. 1, 2010, Mattson wrote to a secret ad hoc group of 50 Islamist officials who were conspiring to portray local New York opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque as part of a wider and massive national campaign of "Islamophobia."
In her email, Mattson wrote: "I just had a two-hour conversation with Laurie Goodstein of the N.Y. Times about all the different things that are going on. One of the things she said to me is that the Muslim haters all have PR firms behind them that promote them to TV programs, etc. Just today, for example, she received an notice for a new 'expert' on Islam -- an Orthodox Anglican who works in Africa, 'has traveled six continents,' and is an expert on the way Shariah is hurting Christians in Africa. Laurie said that the groups regularly roll out new 'experts' because TV shows like to have new faces, and that they send out these notices to thousands of journalists and editors. Whether it is laziness or simply because they know that self-styled experts, unlike academics, tend to be good on TV, they pick them up.
"So it seems to me (and Laurie was willing to give me this advice) that we can only push back if we regularly roll out and promote our own experts to the same shows. We select them, train them, then promote them vigorously. We will need a professional PR firm to make this successful, and I do not think we have a choice other than to find a way to do it."
This is a smoking gun of a New York Times reporter advising a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States how to carry out the Ground Zero Mosque campaign. This is not an isolated incident.
The Times has repeatedly referred to the Council on American Islamic Relations as a "civil rights and advocacy group" -- akin to referring to the Ku Klux Klan as a civil rights group. The Times failed to point out that CAIR was created by Hamas in the United States; that its leaders have justified terrorism; and that FBI prohibited contact with CAIR because of its ties to Hamas. CAIR has repeatedly charged that the "selective" prosecutions of Islamic terrorists and the recruitment of Muslim informants proves there is a "war against Islam," a mantra, which the Canadian intelligence service concluded was the single biggest motivating factor in inducing Muslim extremists to carry out acts of terror.
In this story, The Times exaggerated the grievances of a few disgruntled arrestees seeking a "get-out-of-jail" card, and one police official convicted of perjury. As is so typical of the mindset of reporters nowadays, the enemy is the government, not Islamic terrorists, who are portrayed as the "victim."
A similar set of reckless articles were published two years ago by the Associated Press, "exposing" the NYPD's program of covertly collecting intelligence within the Muslim community to avoid another 9/11 attack. But in response to a lawsuit filed by New Jersey Muslim citizens against the NYPD, Judge William Martini not only rebuked the AP for being reckless in endangering national security, but also provided the moral and legal justification for the NYPD program.
"The more likely explanation for the surveillance was a desire to locate budding terrorist conspiracies. The most obvious reason for so concluding is that surveillance of the Muslim community began just after the attacks of September 11, 2001. The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself."
We can surely expect numerous press conferences this week by radical Islamic groups and their supporters threatening the NYPD with lawsuits as well as admonitions to Muslims not to cooperate with the FBI, a message that has routinely been promoted for years by groups such as CAIR, the Muslim American Society and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
We can also expect The New York Times to collaborate with these Islamist groups to embrace their agenda uncritically. The public is now on notice. The New York Times has shown its true colors.
Steven Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the author of six books on terrorism, and the executive producer of the newly released documentary "Jihad in America: The Grand Deception."