New York city police have been eavesdropping — in restaurants and stores — on Urdu and Bengali speakers to gather information on potential terrorists or terror plots.
Commanding officer of the New York Police Department’s intelligence division Thomas Galati says he takes keen interest in Urdu-speaking New Yorkers.
“I’m seeing Urdu,” assistant chief Galati said of the data generated by his eight-person demographics unit, which eavesdropped on thousands of conversations between Muslims in New York City, New Jersey and on Long Island.
“A potential terrorist could hide in here… Most Urdu speakers would be of concern,” New York Times quoted Galati as saying. When asked if the exercise had helped uncover a terror plot, he said no.
Nearly 80,000 New Yorkers, mostly of Pakistani and Indian descent, speak Urdu.
Bengali-speaking New Yorkers — 20,000 or 30,000 of them — were also snooped on.
The information was used solely to determine where “I should face a threat of a terrorist and that terrorist is Bengali”, said Galati.
Top police officials say the 9/11 commission found that six of the 2001 attackers lived in Paterson, New Jersey as that city had an Arabic-speaking community.