The New York City Police Department's decision to disband an elite intelligence division that kept tabs on the Muslim community creates a standing invitation for terrorists to attack, says former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy.
"It’s going to hurt tremendously in terms of securing New York City, which remains the number-one terrorist target in the West," McCarthy told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
On Wednesday, the office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the NYPD was killing the controversial intelligence unit.
The "Zone Assessment Unit," as it was called, used undercover police officers to mine information about potential terrorist threats. But critics worried the NYPD was targeting all Muslims.
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McCarthy, who was assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and prosecuted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing suspects, says concerns that the NYPD was spying on the Muslim community at large were not accurate.
"What [former Police Commissioner] Ray Kelly . . . really formed in New York was a counterterrorism strategy that focused not on the whole Muslim community or on all Muslims, but intelligence assets in the Muslim community to report back on where the radical Muslims were and to keep an eye on that," he said Wednesday.
"If you don't do that, you're basically asking to be attacked. I mean, we're right back to the 1980s, 1990s again."
McCarthy says liberals attempt to portray al-Qaida and its terrorist affiliates as less dangerous than they really are.
But he added, "You can't paint all Muslims with the same brush. That's a fair enough argument. I actually believe that's true."
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