Mayor Bill de Blasio said the NYPD would not consider bringing back a Bloomberg-era Muslim surveillance program on Tuesday, one day after a Bangladeshi immigrant living in Brooklyn allegedly detonated a homemade bomb in a subway tunnel under the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
It was the second time in two months that the mayor has disavowed the program, which began in secret soon after the 9/11 terror attacks. In November, de Blasio said that resuscitating the NYPD program would prove counterproductive. A day earlier, on Oct. 31, a man who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State had carried out a truck attack that killed eight people in lower Manhattan.
“The notion of going back to a broken approach to quote-unquote surveillance would only make the situation worse. The vast majority of people in all different kinds of communities recognize in this city that they are respected, that they are included, that they have opportunity. Those are the things that avoid people feeling isolated, or God forbid, become radicalized,” de Blasio said Tuesday at an unrelated event in the Bronx.
De Blasio scrapped the controversial program after taking office in 2014.
The program, set up by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, received help from the CIA to target Muslim neighborhoods in the greater New York City area. Mosques were designated potential terrorist organizations, which allowed the NYPD to subject them to additional scrutiny. Sermons were recorded and congregants were watched without charges filed. The NYPD also compiled dossiers on Muslim-heavy neighborhoods.
The Bloomberg administration has defended the program as a vital tool to averting attacks. Bloomberg disputed claims that the program violated the rights of those who were under surveillance.
De Blasio also criticized President Donald Trump on Tuesday for suggesting that the immigration policy that allowed the alleged Port Authority bomber, Akayed Ullah, 27, to come to the United States, should be revoked. Of Trump’s blaming the program — so-called chain migration permitting immigrants to bring over family members — de Blasio said it was “disgusting,” ludicrous” and a “dog whistle.”