Syracuse students among Muslims monitored by NYPD

Students at Syracuse University were among the Muslim college students monitored by the New York Police Department.

According to the Associated Press, the NYPD monitored Muslim students at several schools including Yale and the University of Pennsylvania. Secret documents leaked to the AP list those schools, including SU.

Police talked with local authorities about professors 300 miles away in Buffalo. The department even sent an undercover agent on a whitewater rafting trip, where he recorded students' names and noted in police intelligence files how many times they prayed.

Detectives trawled Muslim student websites every day and, although professors and students weren't accused of any wrongdoing, their names were recorded in reports prepared for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

The practice is already drawing sharp criticism from some on the SU campus. "I see a violation of civil rights here," said Tanweer Haq, chaplain of the

Muslim Student Association

(MSA) at Syracuse. "Nobody wants to be on the list of the FBI or the NYPD or whatever. Muslim students want to have their own lives, their own privacy and enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities that everybody else has."

We spoke with Muslim students on campus Monday. Mustofa Yilmaz, a graduate student at Syracuse University's Maxwell School, says the NYPD's investigation unfairly targets Muslim students whose only crime is coming to the United States to further their education. "We know that the other states are doing this and it makes us upset because we are not all terrorists, you know," he says.

Fellow student Huseyin Kahrawan says education is the key to stopping prejudice. "It's because of the biases. It's not easy to change the prejudices but we can do it," he says.

Syracuse University issued this statement: "The University was not ever aware of or involved in any of the reported activities by the New York City Police Department," said Kevin Quinn, Senior VP for Public Affairs. "We are a University community that embraces a diversity of opinions, ideals, and viewpoints, along with personal privacy. As such, we do not approve of, or support, any surveillance or investigation of student groups based solely on ethnicity, religion, or political viewpoint."

Asked about the monitoring, police spokesman Paul Browne provided a list of 12 people arrested or convicted on terrorism charges in the U.S. and abroad who were once members of Muslim student associations. The arrests or convictions, he said, made it "prudent to get a better handle on what was occurring at MSAs." Browne also listed a dozen examples of arrests involving suspects who had been Muslim student leaders.

Information from the Associated Press used in this report.