NEW YORK — A paid informant for the New York Police Department’s intelligence unit was under orders to “bait” Muslims into saying inflammatory things as he lived a double life, snapping pictures inside mosques and collecting the names of innocent people attending study groups on Islam, he told The Associated Press.
Shamiur Rahman, a 19-year-old American of Bengali descent who has now denounced his work as an informant, said police told him to embrace a strategy called “create and capture.” He said it involved creating a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the response to send to the NYPD. For his work, he earned as much as $1,000 a month and goodwill from the police after a string of minor marijuana arrests.
"We need you to pretend to be one of them," Rahman recalled the police telling him. "It’s street theater." […]
Rahman, who was born in Queens, said he never witnessed any criminal activity or saw anybody do anything wrong.
He said he sometimes intentionally misinterpreted what people had said. For example, Rahman said he would ask people what they thought about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, knowing the subject was inflammatory. It was easy to take statements out of context, he said. He said wanted to please his NYPD handler, whom he trusted and liked.
"I was trying to get money," Rahman said. "I was playing the game."
Every time another one of these stories comes out, it creeps me the fuck out. The article outlines some of the tactics regularly used by informants, most of which have already been seen before in other cases. Here, the NYPD sent three informants to ISNA in 2008 (a yearly Islamic conference widely attend by Muslims), kept watch on the Muslim American Society, and regularly attended Muslim Student Association meetings. At one event, the informant took pictures of a sign-up sheet for a class at a mosque and sent people’s cell phone numbers to the NYPD.
All it takes is for you to maintain any sort of contact with Muslim groups at your university, and there’s a good chance you’re under surveillance.