New York Police anti-terrorism analyst sues over anti-Muslim e-mails

For several years, the New York Police Department has touted an elite undercover unit of mostly Middle Eastern and Asian investigators who use their foreign-language skills online to search out potential terrorist threats against the city. But now the department is under criticism from a member of the unit, an Egyptian-born analyst who filed a suit yesterday that charges he was subjected to hundreds of blistering anti-Muslim and anti-Arab e-mail messages sent out by a city contractor over the course of three years. In an interview yesterday, he said he complained repeatedly to supervisors but that no one took action.

At the center of the lawsuit are e-mail briefing messages sent out several times a day to members of the Intelligence Division by Bruce Tefft, a former C.I.A. official who has identified himself in the past as the Police Department’s counter-terrorism adviser. The e-mail messages were sent to everyone in the division, including Deputy Commissioner David Cohen, also a former C.I.A. official, the suit said.

According to the suit, the briefing messages were preceded by commentary from Mr. Tefft that included virulent anti-Muslim and anti-Arab statements like, “Burning the hate-filled Koran should be viewed as a public service at the least”, and “This is not a war against terrorism … it is against Islam and we are not winning”. In one, he asked, “Has the U.S. threatened to vaporize Mecca?” and responded, “Excellent idea, if true.”

New York Times, 6 December 2006