A 19-year-old American of Bengali descent was paid by the New York Police Department to "bait" Muslims into incriminating themselves, according to a story published Tuesday by The Associated Press.
Shamiur Rahman ""was under orders to 'bait' Muslims into saying incriminating things as he lived a double life, snapping pictures inside mosques and collecting the names of innocent people attending study groups on Islam," Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo of the AP report.
Rahman told Goldman and Apuzzo—and they corroborated through arrest records, text messages and photos—that police instructed him to use a "create and capture" strategy which "involved creating a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the response to send to the NYPD. For his work, he earned as much as $1,000 a month and goodwill from the police after a string of minor marijuana arrests."
Among his assignments were spying on the head of security at the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn as he delivered a speech; photographing and identifying people at the event and determining who belonged to the Muslim Student Association at John Jay College and who were its leaders; photographing the 27th annual Muslim Day Parade in Manhattan; and recording license plate numbers and cell phone numbers.
Goldman and Apuzzo reported that they corroborated Rahman's account through arrest records, "weeks of text messages between Rahman and his police handler," and photos Rahman sent to police.
"Former NYPD officials, while not personally familiar with Rahman, said the tactics he described were used by informants," the report states.
After Rahman was arrested in late January for the third time on misdemeanor drug charges, a NYPD officer approached him in a Queens jail and by the next month he was working for the department, the AP reports.
"Rahman said he thought he was doing important work protecting New York City and considered himself a hero," Goldman and Apuzzo report.
He sometimes intentionally misinterpreted statements in order to "please" his handler, Rahman said, noting, "I was trying to get money. I was playing the game."
Rahman no longer works as an informant.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Tuesday, according to the AP, but he has denied widespread NYPD spying, saying police only follow leads.