Feds: Move Has Alienated People, Hurt Counter Terror Info Gathering Process
March 7, 2012 7:22 PM
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The head of the Newark FBI said Wednesday the NYPD’s monitoring of Muslims in New Jersey has had a chilling effect on the feds’ ability to gather counter terrorism intelligence.

In the annals of policing this is unheard of. Usually people in law enforcement hang together. If they have squabbles they keep it in the cone of silence.

Not this time.

“What we’re seeing now with the uproar that is occurring in New Jersey is that we’re starting to see cooperation pulled back. People are concerned that they’re being followed. People are concerned that they can’t trust law enforcement,” said FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge Michael Ward.

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Ward said the NYPD’s spying on mosques and Muslim businesses in the Garden State has caused sources to dry up and made the job of gathering counter terrorism intelligence much more difficult, reports CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer.

“It’s starting to have a negative impact. When people pull back cooperation it creates additional risks. It creates blind spots. It hinders our ability to have our finger on the pulse of what’s going on around the state,” Ward said.

Ward’s attack is the latest criticism of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s decision to send cops way beyond the borders of the five boroughs to seek out people who might want to attack New York City.

But it’s the first attack by a brother law enforcement official, and it’s the first public display of what appears to b a long-simmering resentment among federal officials of Kelly’s success in building a 1,000-member counter terrorism unit that rivals any unit anywhere.

By comparison, the Newark FBI office has 100 agents.

Police experts told Kramer the attack is unprecedented.

“I’ve been in the field for 42 years and I can’t recall it happening before,” said Robert McCrie, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Ward kept his on-camera comments brief, but then leveled other criticism of the NYPD, charging that Kelly’s force keeps a close hold on any intelligence it gathers and only shares what it wants when it wants.

“Law enforcement agencies don’t generally speak in the way this SAC did,” McCrie said.

The NYPD vigorously defended its past and present surveillance tactics and pointed out that many terrorist operations, including the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and the 9/11 attack were masterminded in New Jersey.

The Department also pointed to the present terror concerns involving Israel and Iran. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said: “…as the likelihood of military conflict between Israel and/or the United States escalates, understanding where an operative for Hezbollah, Iran’s terror ally, may try to meld in would be absolutely vital for the protection of New York City.”

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