February 21, 2014
The first legal challenge to the New York police department’s blanket surveillance of Muslims in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been dismissed by a federal judge in New Jersey in a ruling that lawyers acting for the plaintiffs have described as preposterous and dangerous.
Judge William Martini, sitting in the US district court for the district of New Jersey, threw out a lawsuit brought by eight Muslim individuals and local businesses who alleged their constitutional rights were violated when the NYPD’s mass surveillance was based on religious affiliation alone. The legal action was the first of its type flowing from the secret NYPD project to map and monitor Muslim communities across the east coast that was exposed by a Pulitzer prize-winning series of articles in 2011 by the Associated Press.
In his judgment, released on Thursday, Martini dismisses the complaint made by the plaintiffs that they had been targeted for police monitoring solely because of their religion. He writes: “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.”