Sal Albanese takes on Bill Thompson

Albanese: Thompson flip-flopped on Muslim monitoring

The Brooklyn Paper
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A Democratic mayoral candidates forum in Manhattan Beach turned into a smackdown as two candidates clashed over the police department’s controversial monitoring of Muslims in Brooklyn.

Tempers flared when former Bay Ridge Councilman Sal Albanese accused former Comptroller Bill Thompson of flip-flopping on the New York Police Department’s policy of planting informants in mosques. Albanese claimed the Bedford-Stuyvesant native had denounced the program at a May 5 Muslim-American forum in Manhattan, but then changed his position to pander to the audience at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center on May 29.

Albanese’s attack came after Thompson said he supported the infiltration of Muslim houses of worship if the police had reasonable suspicions of terrorist activity within, but that he opposed targeting any group just because of its religious beliefs.

“If they have legitimate leads, absolutely they should follow up on those leads,” said Thompson. “But when it comes to targeting a single community because of who you are and what you believe, we are not going to do that under my administra­tion.”

Albanese pointed to Thompson’s denunciation of the program at the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian forum at New York University just a few weeks earlier. At that event, our sister publication, the New York Post, reported that the ex-comptroller called the measure “disgraceful.”

“To single a group out, to follow people, to infiltrate mosques and bookstores, to be able to do all of those things — is it right? Absolutely not. Should it be done? Positively not. Would I allow it? Definitely not,” the Post reported Thompson as saying.

Albanese alleged that Thompson was trying to give the Muslim community the impression that he was against spying, and give the Orthodox Jewish community the sense he was for it.

“You have to say the same thing wherever you go,” Albanese said.

Thompson fired back immediately, yelling that the retired councilman had failed to listen to what he had said.

“You need to pay better attention at these panels!” Thompson said. “I said the exact same thing there I said tonight!”

But Albanese’s statement on the issue was hardly any different from the one Thompson gave that night, saying he would require the police to adhere to the guidelines of the Handschu Agreement, which bans indiscriminate spying by the NYPD, allowing monitoring only in cases of suspected criminal activity, and only with a warrant.

“In my administration, we’re going to follow the law,” said Albanese.

The controversy over the NYPD’s monitoring of mosques first broke out in 2011, when the Associated Press reported that the department was photographing and recording Muslims throughout the tri-state area, and was paying moles to report on activities in bookstores and mosques. The program failed to turn up any leads, but police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg defended the practice.

Thompson isn’t the first politician to be accused of flip-flopping on the police department’s tight to monitor of mosques depending on where he was talking. Last October, state Sen. Marty Golden told a mostly Muslim audience he was opposed to the practice — just months after signing a letter praising Kelly’s anti-terror efforts.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him
Updated 10:11 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I don't mean to sound like an Islamaphobe here, but when was the last time Muslims ever condemned their groups for doing terrorist acts? I have seen many Jewish, Christian, and even other religions calling out their own kind when they did terrorism, but never any Muslims. I can still remember back in 2006 when I went to an anti-terrorist rally based on the IDF soldiers being kidnapped by Hezbollah, but I saw nobody in the audience that was Muslim there, though I did manage to see Muslims not far from there protesting that rally. I wasn't even surprised to hear numerous Muslim charities giving secret donations to aiding terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and even Al Qaeda yet no outcry came from them on that. If they really did care, then they would call for end to all terrorism by their group rather than acting silent on it or even rushing to their defense.
June 3, 2013, 5:08 pm
Queen of the Click from Bay Ridge says:

Tal - Just reading your response makes me cringe. The reporter informed us about an exchange between two mayoral candidates and you comment about something you know very little about. Muslims and terrorists are not the same thing. Do a google search on Muslims Condemn Terrorists and you will find plenty of information which will make you want to edit your post so you don't look so silly.
June 4, 2013, 5:43 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Sorry Queen of the Click, but those people you mentioned are a very small minority. For the most part, I have hardly every seen them ever come out against them, especially those that attack innocent civilians in Israel, which they are probably cheering for. Also, why did those that you claim didn't call out Hezbollah for kidnapping the IDF soldiers back in 2006 demand for a return of them alive to Israel? In reality, I find these so-called moderates to be nothing more than a joke or just talk for the most part. Another thing is that I have never heard them calling out all the Muslim groups that were secretly funding terrorists groups. For the record, I do follow up on numerous news about terrorism, and I have hardly ever heard about Muslims calling them out actively. If anything, it has been more passively or for PR purposes only. More importantly, I didn't hear any Muslims condemning Hamas for launching qassam rockets on numerous Israeli cities, but they condemned the Israeli government big time just for responding.
June 4, 2013, 4:20 pm
Brooklyn Patriot from Brooklyn says:
@Tal: Muslim groups constantly condemn acts of terrorism done in the name of Islam. Let me repeat: Islamic groups consistently condemn acts of terrorism done in the name of Islam. You do sound like an Islamaphobe. I'm usually a fan of your posts, but I have to loudly reject your premise.

Targeting groups because of their religion and not because of their actions is profoundly unAmerican. I say this as a Jew of European descent.
June 4, 2013, 5:08 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
For the record, I never said that all Muslims are bad, just those actually doing the attacks. However, their own community does next to nothing to stop them. I have been to numerous anti-terrorism rallies, and I hardly saw any Muslims there, though I did see them protesting those rallies. If they truly were for calling them out, then they should stop calling for more intifadas, and mention that the terrorists don't represent them. As an Israeli-born Jew, I feel very offended when anyone considers groups such as Hamas or even Hezbollah as freedom fighters, and most of them saying that are Muslims. One way to stop terrorists is to crack down on those giving the funds, and many of them have been through charities. Last time I checked, harboring terrorism is illegal by all international laws.
June 5, 2013, 8:22 pm

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