Story highlights

Bloomberg touts law enforcement efforts to thwart terrorist attacks in New York

He says "we obey the law" and authorities "don't target anybody"

Some Muslim leaders say they will boycott the mayor's annual interfaith breakfast Friday

They are protesting a controversial surveillance program with alleged CIA ties


Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday touted law enforcement efforts to thwart future terrorist attacks in New York, telling reporters that “we obey the law” and that authorities “don’t target anybody,” instead focusing on leads.

His comments come one day ahead of a planned boycott by a prominent group of Muslim clerics who said they will forgo the city’s annual interfaith breakfast in protest over a controversial surveillance program.

The controversy stems from a series of news reports that raised questions about the nature of a Central Intelligence Agency partnership with the New York Police Department, pointing to the alleged surveillance of Muslims living in New York.

The Associated Press reported that following the September 11, 2001, attacks, the CIA helped the NYPD build intelligence programs used to spy on Muslims, and that a CIA officer was involved in intelligence collection in Muslim communities.

The report said police have used informers to monitor sermons during religious services and police officials keep tabs on clerics and gather intelligence on taxi cab drivers and food-cart vendors, who are often Muslim, in New York.

Friday’s breakfast is meant to highlight religious diversity and tolerance among New Yorkers.

Last week, the CIA announced its internal watchdog found no issue or evidence of wrong-doing in the spy agency’s partnership with the NYPD following an investigation into the matter.

The New York Police Department, meanwhile, has blasted the published report as “fictional.”

“There have been at least 14 terrorist plots against New York City since the 9/11 attacks, and the NYPD is actively engaged in making certain we are not attacked again,” said police spokesman Paul Browne. “A recent analysis shows that 44 terrorists who have been captured or killed since 2002 resided in the  five boroughs or immediate metropolitan area.”

Browne said the “use of NYPD undercover officers was grossly exaggerated in the AP series.”

The CIA has also previously said that suggestions that it engaged in domestic spying were “simply wrong.”

The spy agency said the published report “mischaracterized the nature and scope” of the CIA’s support for New York police.

An agency officer observing police efforts “would not be involved in law enforcement activities,” said an official with knowledge of the proceedings.

But New York-area Muslims and civil liberties advocates have called for investigations and hearings after the report was published in August.

The alleged program “is a waste of precious resources, and it raises serious constitutional concerns,” said Udi Ofer of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group in the United States, referred to the alleged activities as a “potentially illegal program” to monitor the Muslim communities in New York and New Jersey.