A 19-year-old Bengali-American has admitted to his friends and the Associated Press that he was complicit in the NYPD intelligence unit’s far-reaching Muslim spying program, despite having no experience and no criminal leads. Shamiur Rahman said he agreed to conduct surveillance at mosques, speeches, and Muslim student events as part of the department’s widespread but ineffective (and potentially illegal) effort after being arrested for the third time on misdemeanor marijuana charges, and was paid $1,000 a month for his service. His NYPD orders, he said, were to “bait” Muslims into radical conversations in what police called a “create and capture” strategy.
Obeying text-messaged instructions from his NYPD handler, “Steve,” Rahman photographed mosques and eavesdropped on controversial community leaders in the hopes of hearing buzzwords like jihad and revolution, the AP reports. “We need you to pretend to be one of them,” he was told. “It’s street theater.”
While he thought for a time that he was a hero, Rahman has since decided that his work was “detrimental to the Constitution,” announcing to his friends on Facebook this month, “I was an informant for the NYPD, for a little while, to investigate terrorism.” He said maybe he was tracking bad guys, “but I doubt it,” and that he’d even come to like some of those he’d been tracking:
Rahman said he eventually tired of spying on his friends, noting that at times they delivered food to needy Muslim families. He said he once identified another NYPD informant spying on him. He took $200 more from the NYPD and told them he was done as an informant. He said the NYPD offered him more money, which he declined.
His phone line to the department has since gone dead, and Rahman now plans to move to the Caribbean, where the first few dozen daiquiris are on the NYPD.