Members of a Muslim student group on the University at Buffalo campus Monday decried reports that the New York City Police Department monitored the online activities of college students attending schools far beyond the limits of New York City, including at UB.
Among those monitored was a member of Muslim Student Association at UB who had posted an email announcing information about an event taking place in Toronto that triggered an investigation into the organization by New York City police in 2006.
"Our organization and its general members feel that this is an infringement of our civil liberties and that it is driving Muslim students away from mainstream American society," the Muslim Student Association said in a news release.
The Associated Press in recent months has done a series of reports on secret programs that New York City police built with help from the CIA to monitor Muslims at places where they eat, shop and worship.
More recently, the news organization revealed that the monitoring operations were being conducted far more broadly than previously known, including at Ivy League schools.
Muslim students also were targeted at Syracuse University and the State University of New York campuses in Albany, Stony Brook and Buffalo, among others.
New York City police reportedly monitored various student websites and collected publicly available information, but did so only in 2006 and 2007.
"This investigation was without the knowledge of the University at Buffalo, local authorities, or the federal government," the UB Muslim Student Association continued in its statement.
One University at Buffalo student, Adeela Khan, ended up in a police report after receiving an email Nov. 9, 2006, announcing an upcoming Islamic conference in Toronto. The email said "highly respected scholars" would be attending but did not say who or give any details of the program. Khan, who has since graduated, was a board member of the Muslim Student Association at UB. She told AP that she never went to the conference, was not affiliated with it and had no idea who was speaking at it.
UB officials, in a statement, said the university had no knowledge of the monitoring.
Another intelligence report from Jan. 2, 2009, obtained by AP, described a trip by three New York Police Department officers to Buffalo, where they met with a high-ranking member of the Erie County Sheriff's Office and agreed "to develop assets jointly in the Buffalo area, to act as listening posts within the ethnic Somalian community."
News Staff Reporters Stephen T. Watson and Harold McNeil contributed to this report.