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A Muslim analyst for the New York City Police Department is suing the city for workplace harassment, alleging he was subject to a regular stream of “anti-Islamic” messages from an e-mail list run by a former adviser who trained detectives in counter-terrorism.
The contracted adviser, retired 21-year CIA veteran Bruce Tefft, is also a defendant in the suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan last December.
But Tefft – a founder of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Unit – told WND he believes the analyst, who is not named in court papers, has no case against him. Tefft, noting the suit so far has cost him $50,000 in legal fees, cites First Amendment protections and argues NYPD personnel signed up for his e-mail list at their own will and were completely free to unsubscribe at any time.
He also points out his employer at the time, the private intelligence firm Orion Scientific Systems, covered his entire salary and expenses, effectively donating his services to the NYPD.
A hearing is scheduled for next month on a motion to dismiss the case.
Tefft continues to send out about 50 to 60 e-mails a day comprised mostly of unclassified material and news reports from around the world related to terrorism and Islam. In a fraction of those dispatches he adds his own comments, some of which became a focus of the complaint.
“This is a global war we are in,” Tefft said, explaining the relevance of the e-mailed reports to domestic officials. “The enemy is a global enemy. Jihadists are all over the world. So whatever goes on around the world has value here.”
The suit by the Egyptian-born analyst – who filed as “John Doe Anti-Terrorism Officer” because he works undercover in the Cyber Unit – says the e-mails “ridiculed and disparaged the Muslim religion and Arab people, and stated that Muslim- and Arab-Americans were untrustworthy and could not reliably serve in law enforcement positions or handle sensitive data.”
He also claims he was subject to disparaging remarks by NYPD personnel and that on one occasion, Muslim and Arab-American employees of the intelligence unit were asked to leave the room after giving a presentation, while other employees were allowed to stay, according to the New York Observer.
The suit contends that despite the analyst’s repeated complaints to supervisors about Tefft’s e-mail distribution over a period of three years, the city “failed to do anything to stop it.”
“Tefft’s hate-filled and humiliating email briefings were distributed to virtually all City employees who worked in the NYPD’s Intelligence Division, including the highest-ranking members of that division and Plaintiff’s supervisors,” says the complaint.
The Muslim analyst’s lawyer, Ilann Maazel, was not available for comment.
The analyst, a former prison guard at the city’s Rikers Island jail, has been assigned since 1998 to the NYPD’s Intelligence Division, where he helped form the Cyber Unit in 2002, Maazel told the New York Times in December. The members scan the Internet to monitor potential threats, and Maazel said the analyst’s family in Egypt could be harmed if the nature of his work were revealed.
Not a sentimentalist
According to the suit, Tefft’s personal notes on the e-mails included comments such as “a good Muslim … can’t be a good American,” “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.”
On one article headlined “1 in 4 Hold Anti-Muslim Views,” Tefft added, “Then 1 in 4 is well-informed.” On another one titled, “Has U.S. threatened to vaporize Mecca?” he commented, “Excellent idea, if true.”
Tefft, who spent 17 of his 21 years in clandestine services stationed overseas, including hot spots such as Mogadishu and Angola, makes no apologies for his views.
“I won’t dispute what I was saying; I could justify what I said about Islam,” he told WND.
Tefft believes the threat of Islam to the U.S. is so serious he has no time to mince words.
“I’m not a sentimentalist, and I’m not hate-filled either,” he said. “Hate is an emotion. I don’t feel emotional about it at all. I feel analytical and logical.”
Tefft insists there clearly is a link between fundamental Islam and terror.
“There is nothing un-Islamic about Osama bin Laden,” he said of the al-Qaida leader. “If there were, he would have been declared apostate, non Islamic.”
Maazel, in a December interview with the New York Times, called the e-mails “racist,” but Tefft says that is absurd.
“I don’t consider Islam a race,” he said. “So to call me racist is ridiculous. I have good friends who are Egyptian officials. I’ve worked all over the world.”
Islam, he maintains, should be regarded as a political ideology bent on world conquest.
Tefft said that during his time at the NYPD, the Muslim analyst came to him and complained he was being harsh on Muslims.
Over coffee, Tefft pointed out chapters and verses in the Quran to support his views. The analyst, according to Tefft, replied that his imam had never told him about those verses. Tefft asked, “Now what do you think, after seeing the Quran?”
“Well, I’m very disturbed,” the analyst replied, according to Teft.
The analyst came to the U.S. from Egypt in the 1980s after earning an undergraduate degree at the University of Alexandria. He became an American citizen in 1993. After receiving a master’s degree at City College of New York, he did manual labor jobs before joining the Department of Correction.
Tefft pointed out his services were donated to the NYPD by his company, Orion Scientific Systems, which covered all of his expenses, including a weekly commute from his home in suburban Washington, D.C., to New York City.
He began in early 2002 when the company’s founder and president, Jim Stinson, who he called an “extraordinary patriot,” volunteered to give the NYPD’s intel division a terrorist expert for as long as it wished.
“We received no money at all from New York City,” Tefft said. “There was no employee relationship.”
His job was to prepare police offers – whose work is geared toward reacting to crime – to be proactive, “training them, teaching them how to develop sources, so they could take measures to deter, deflect or interdict a terror incident before it happens.”
He calls his e-mail list a personal effort that was never commissioned by his company.
After a typical class of 15 to 20 detectives went though his training, the last slide of his PowerPoint presentation provided information on how to sign up for his list.
“It was all voluntary,” he said. “If they were interested they could sign up. If not, no big deal. I said if you don’t like it, you can get your name off the list. People were getting on and off the list all the time, but most stayed on it.”
The Muslim analyst, Tefft said, asked to be put on the list.
“He never asked to be taken off,” Tefft said. “He says he was forced to be on it, but I’m not even sure the police department knew about [the list].”
NYPD spokesman Paul J. Browne has said Commissioner David Cohen was unaware of the e-mails’ “offensive commentary” until the analyst made his complaint.
“As soon as the Police Department became aware of a complaint about the content of e-mail sent by an individual not employed by the Police Department, we took immediate action to block his e-mails, followed by a cease and desist letter to the individual and his employer, a consulting firm,” he wrote in an e-mail to the New York Times.
Niall Stanage, writing in the New York Observer, said in December the little-noticed case “has the potential to detonate the NYPD’s efforts to build effective relations with a skeptical minority community, in this case Arab-Americans.”
If the Muslim analyst’s allegations are proven true, he wrote, it suggests that “a deep anti-Arab racism festers in the NYPD that could gravely undermine its anti-terrorism efforts.”
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