The AP has obtained text messages sent from a former NYPD informant who spied on Muslim communities across the city. Shamiur Rahman, who later expressed regret over his police cooperation, was paid $9,000 from January through September of 2012 to monitor various mosques, businesses, and Muslim groups. Rahman's NYPD contact was Detective Stephen Hoban, who would text Rahman messages like, "Did you take pictures?" "I need pictures from the rally…And I need to know who is there…Get pictures."
According to court documents related to an ongoing civil rights lawsuit, Rahman filed 57 surveillance reports with the NYPD during his time as an informant—over the past three years 4,200 total reports were received by the NYPD's Demographics Unit (now called the Zone Assessment Unit), which amounts to around four each day. Around 200 of those reports contained conversations overheard by informants.
The managing director of the NYPD's Intelligence Division, Assistant Chief Thomas Galati, has said in court filings that the conversations detailed in the reports were used to determine people's reactions to events that happened overseas, especially drone strikes.
Yet Rahman's text messages seemingly cast a wider net:
"Hey bro," Rahman told Hoban in one message. "I think im going to bring up jihad with these guys tonight, see what they say and know and then go home because everyones really just praying and stuff."
And who was Rahman spying on?
Rahman sent Hoban pictures: Imams. The sign-up list for an Islamic study group. People at rallies and parades. And bags of rice and boxes of Cheerios that his mosque was collecting for the needy.
"This is what they give to each family plus flour, cookies, pudding, and meat," Rahman wrote.
And he collected phone numbers. One belonged to an elderly neighbor who worked in a woman's shelter. Two more were people who signed a petition and were "probably organizing a rally" for Muslims suffering in Myanmar.