The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

May 20, 2013

NYPD messages to Muslim informant: 'Get pictures'

(Continued)

Rahman allowed the AP to review months of text messages with Hoban from January to September 2012.

"Hey bro," Rahman told Hoban in one message. "I think im going to bring up jihad with these guys tonight, see what they say and know and then go home because everyones really just praying and stuff."

Hoban did not respond to that message. Rahman previously said his NYPD handler only encouraged him to use the tactic, never dissuaded him. Rahman did not respond to messages for comment from AP after Hoban's filing in federal court in Manhattan.

The different accounts of Rahman's activities are significant. Taken with the NYPD's use of plainclothes detectives assigned to the Demographics Unit to catalog Muslim business and eavesdrop on conversations, civil rights lawyers say that Rahman's tactics show the NYPD is violating court-imposed rules about what files it can keep on activities protected by the First Amendment.

The NYPD strongly denies that and Hoban's affidavit is central to their defense.

The NYPD's court papers also reveal for the first time the scope of the monitoring by its Demographics Unit, now called the Zone Assessment Unit. In the past three years, the unit has filed more than 4,200 reports, or about four per day.

Each report typically describes a clandestine visit to a business or mosque, the ethnicity of the clientele and, in some cases, what conversations the officers overheard. The detectives reported details from more than 200 conversations, or about one a week.

Thomas Galati, the commanding officer of the Intelligence Division, said most of those conversations were used to gauge people's reactions to overseas events. The AP has previously reported that Demographics detectives were extremely interested in people's reactions to U.S. drone attacks.

The civil rights lawyers want a federal judge to appoint an outside monitor to oversee the NYPD's intelligence-gathering operations, which the police department is strongly resisting. Such a monitor, the NYPD says, "would have rippling negative effects with dire consequences."

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