NEW YORK — In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighbourhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, a secret unit of the New York Police Department never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday.
The demographics unit is at the heart of a police spying program, built with help from the Central Intelligence Agency, which assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames. Police hoped the unit would serve as an early warning system for terrorism. And if police ever got a tip about, say, an Afghan terrorist in the city, they would know where he was likely to rent a room, buy groceries and watch sports.
But in a June…
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