In top-secret talks to settle federal lawsuits against the NYPD for monitoring mosques, the city is weighing a demand that it scrub from its Web site a report on Islamic terrorists, The Post has learned.
The groundbreaking, 92-page report, titled “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” angers critics who say it promotes “religious profiling” and discrimination against Muslims. But law-enforcement sources say removing the report now would come at the worst time — after mounting terror attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris, Boston, Sydney and Ottawa.
“The harm is that it sends the message that the NYPD is going to back down on its counterterrorism effort in the name of political correctness,” said a former NYPD official. “Shame on the NYPD if they do.”
Sources familiar with the case confirmed that removal of the NYPD report is one of the major sticking points in settlement negotiations.
Also on the table are demands that the NYPD halt any ongoing surveillance in the Muslim community and that records of prior monitoring be expunged, sources said.
With what seems today like a crystal ball, the 2007 NYPD report identified an “emerging threat” — al Qaeda-inspired jihadists in the United States and abroad, hell-bent on attacking their host countries.
“Radicalization is something the NYPD saw happening in Europe,” said the former NYPD official. “It was prescient in identifying this phenomenon and predicting it would increase.”
Among the report’s warnings:
- “The majority of radical individuals began as ‘unremarkable’ — they had ‘unremarkable’ jobs, had lived ‘unremarkable’ lives and had little, if any criminal history.”
- Most terrorist wannabes are reasonably well-educated male Muslims between ages 18 and 35, local residents, second- or third-generation with roots in the Middle East or South Asia, and from middle-class families.
- “The Internet is a driver and enabler for the process of radicalization” — providing information on extremist beliefs to practical advice on constructing weapons
- Recent converts to Islam can be the most radical. “Their need to prove their religious convictions to their companions often makes them the most aggressive.”
- Potential jihadists flock to mosques as their religious beliefs deepen, then withdraw from them when “the individual’s level of extremism surpasses that of the mosque.”
- Once a person is radicalized, an attack can happen very quickly. “While the other phases of radicalization may take place gradually, over two to three years, this jihadization component can be a very rapid process, taking only a few months, or even weeks.”
Under former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the report served as a blueprint for the NYPD’s “demographic unit,” which sent plainclothes detectives into Muslim cafes, stores and mosques to detect potential terrorists.
After the initiative was exposed by The Associated Press, Muslim leaders and groups filed two lawsuits in Brooklyn federal court claiming they were subjected to unwarranted surveillance.
The suits complain the radicalization report puts virtually all Muslims under suspicion.
Last April, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton disbanded the intelligence-gathering unit.
A spokesman for the city Law Department said, “Discussions are ongoing, and nothing is final.”