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NYPD-Muslim case pivots

NEW YORK — A New York Police Department detective told a federal judge that he has seen no evidence that one of his informants brought up the subject of jihad as a way to bait Muslims into making incriminating remarks. But text messages obtained by the Associated Press show otherwise.

Although the detective, Stephen Hoban, described the activities in a new legal filing in US District Court as narrowly focused on a few people under investigation, text messages show a wide-ranging effort.

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Eager to make money, Shamiur Rahman, the informant, snapped pictures during prayer sessions, rallies, and a parade; recorded the names of people who signed petitions or protested; and reported fellow Muslims who volunteered to feed needy families.

When the detective responded, his text messages nearly always sought more information, such as, ‘‘Did you take pictures?’’

Rahman said last year that he made about $9,000 over nine months spying widely on friends and others. He said the NYPD encouraged him to use a tactic called ‘‘create and capture.’’ He said it involved creating conversations about terrorism, then capturing the responses and sending them to the department.

Now, as the NYPD defends itself from allegations by civil rights lawyers that such tactics violated a longstanding federal court order, the department said Rahman was either lying or did not know what he was talking about.

‘‘Rahman was never tasked to, nor did he as far as I know, engage in what he refers to as a ‘create and capture’ methodology,’’ Hoban wrote. ‘‘There are 57 field reports documenting Rahman’s work as an informant. In reviewing those field reports, it is clear that Rahman did not use what he refers to in his declaration as a ‘create and capture’ strategy.’’

The different accounts of Rahman’s activities are significant. Taken with the NYPD’s use of plainclothes detectives assigned to the Demographics Unit to catalog Muslim business and eavesdrop on conversations, civil rights lawyers say that Rahman’s tactics show the department is violating court-imposed rules about what files it can keep on activities protected by the First Amendment.

The department strongly denies that it is violating court rules, and Hoban’s affidavit is central to their defense.

The civil rights lawyers want a federal judge to appoint an outside monitor to oversee the NYPD’s intelligence-gathering operations.

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