FBI Official: News Of NYPD Muslim Surveillance Program Is ‘Starting To Have A Negative Impact’

Newark FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Ward at a press conference.

The recent news that the NYPD has been monitoring the communications and activities of Muslim groups in and around the tri-state area has been roundly condemned by all sides of the political spectrum, but CBS New York is reporting that criticism is also being leveled by an unexpected group: the FBI.

According to FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge Michael Ward, the fallout from the NYPD’s surveillance program has made the FBI’s job harder than ever:

Ward said the NYPD’s spying on mosques and Muslim businesses in the Garden State has caused sources to dry up and made the job of gathering counter terrorism intelligence much more difficult, reports CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer.

It’s starting to have a negative impact. When people pull back cooperation it creates additional risks. It creates blind spots. It hinders our ability to have our finger on the pulse of what’s going on around the state,” Ward said.

FBI Newark has made efforts to mend its ties with the Muslim community in New Jersey by apologizing on behalf of the NYPD’s activities, but it appears that some may not be so quick to forgive. The AP is reporting today that at least one mosque in Paterson, New Jersey has postponed a planned appearance by Ward that meant to repair trust, though would not comment on the specific reason why.

The Newark office has also seemingly diverged from the agency’s official position on the controversy. FBI Director Robert Mueller offered praise to embattled NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly and said “the New York Police Department have done a remarkable job in protecting New York.”

The FBI could not be immediately reached for a comment on Ward’s statements.