One Police Plaza

Marathon Miracle Men

April 22, 2013

Somehow, the FBI and the Boston police department, with the help of numerous other Massachusetts and federal law enforcement agencies, were able to kill or capture the suspects in the Marathon massacre without the assistance of Ray Kelly and the NYPD.

Kelly announced he had sent two sergeants to Boston to gather “granular information” — whatever that is.

Here’s hoping that information contains something about teamwork and respect for other law enforcement agencies, as displayed by the self-effacing Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and the manner in which he conducted the news conference following the capture of the second suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

And what a news conference it was, with Davis praising the FBI as the case’s lead agency, then singling out, one at a time, representatives of the various law enforcement agencies who had worked the case, from the local Watertown police to the Massachusetts State Police and the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency.

What a contrast to what might have occurred had such a massacre occurred in New York.

Can you imagine Kelly acknowledging an FBI-led investigation with the NYPD in a supporting role?

Can you imagine his praising any other local law enforcement agency, such as the Port Authority police — which on 9/11 lost more officers than the NYPD and with which Kelly continues to feud over control of Ground Zero?

Let’s return to his feuding over credit and news conference control with the FBI.

Remember the capture of radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza Al Masri in London by the Joint [FBI-NYPD] Terrorist Task Force in 2004?

Then, Kelly blind-sided the FBI by singling out for praise NYPD detective George Corey, while ignoring the role of all others on the JTTF.

Kelly released so much information about Corey [including his picture] that reporters camped outside his home in Long Island, and so terrified his wife that Corey was recalled from London for what the head of the FBI’s New York office Pat D’Amuro called “security concerns.” [See NYPD Confidential, Jun. 4, 2004.]

More recently, the FBI has worked with the NYPD in investigating three so-called “lone-wolf” terrorists, Ahmed Ferhani, Mohamed Mamdouh, and Joe Pimentel.

The discord between the two agencies is apparently such that the FBI refused to attend the two City Hall news conferences, announcing their arrests.

In fact, when it comes to investigating terrorism, it is Kelly and the NYPD that have been the lone wolf.

Before the 2004 Republican National Convention, detectives from the NYPD’s Intelligence Division were sent on a secret foray to Massachusetts by the Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and former CIA poobah David Cohen.

Without informing the local authorities, the detectives spied on a group known as the Black Tea Society at a meeting at a Boston church.

The Massachusetts State Police, concerned that the group might demonstrate at the Democratic National Convention in Boston that July, also monitored the Black Tea meeting.

Spotting a car with New York plates, they grew suspicious and followed the car when the meeting ended, then pulled it over on the Massachusetts Turnpike for speeding, and nearly arrested the detectives.

According to a law enforcement official familiar with the events, a 10-to-15-minute “dialogue” occurred before the NYPD cops identified themselves. [See NYPD Confidential, Mar. 19, 2004.]

In 2009, the NYPD acted as a lone wolf in the FBI-led investigation of terrorist Najibullah Zazi — with near disastrous consequences.

The Colorado-based Zazi had plotted with two friends from Queens — where they had gone to high school together — to plant bombs in city subways.

Again, the NYPD blindsided the FBI.

Without informing the Bureau, they contacted one of their own informants, who tipped off Zazi’s father, short-circuiting the FBI’s investigation.

Fortunately, the FBI had placed a tap on the father’s phone. After Zazi cut short his trip and returned to Colorado, the FBI was forced to scramble and arrest the men prematurely. [See NYPD Confidential, Sep. 21, 2009.]

One can only imagine the result of such lone-wolf tactics after the Boston Marathon massacre.

Although it is not clear whether the suspects’ Muslim religion or their Chechen heritage was a factor in the Boston Marathon bombing, perhaps we should point out, just for the record, how Chechnya did not factor into the NYPD’s blanket spying on Muslim New Yorkers.

As spelled out in the Intelligence Division’s secret “Strategic Posture” report of 2006, Chechens are not included in the NYPD’s listing of 263 “Ethnic Hot Spots.”

Instead, the hot spots list only “Pakistani, Jordanian, Bangladeshi, West Indian, Sudanese, Syrian and Egyptian” locations.

Furthermore, the report does not mention Chechnya in its “Breakdown: NYC Muslim Population.”

Instead, a pie chart lists: Afghanistan, 3 per cent; Iran, 5 per cent; Syria, 7 per cent; Lebanon, 7 per cent; Turkey, 8 per cent; Egypt, 11 per cent; Pakistan, 21 per cent, and Bangladesh, 17 per cent.

The closest the pie chart comes to Chechnya is the notation: “Other, 4 per cent.”

Recently retired Internal Affairs detective Shirley Pelage, who is suing the NYPD for $15 million, claiming she and other minorities have been discriminated against, told the Daily News’s John Marzulli last week that the city needs an Inspector General to monitor the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

In a telephone interview with this reporter, she also had harsh words for IAB Chief Charlie Campisi, for whom her last job was to gather sensitive data for his daily briefings. She described Campisi as “rigid,” “old-fashioned,” and concerned primarily with “protecting the image of the NYPD.”

But, perhaps without realizing it, she also complimented him.

“He is honorable,” Pelage said. “He still has the old values. He loves his wife and children and he lives for his grandchildren. He is not like a normal chief. He never made a pass at me.”

What Campisi dislikes more than anything else, she added, is this column.

“He feels you are trying to destroy Ray Kelly. He feels you assassinate people.

“He comes in every day at 4:15 A.M. so I used to come in 3:50 A.M, to let the chief know what he should be apprised of in his daily briefing. Besides calling the Operations Desk, I get a printout of all periodicals and news articles.

“And every Monday, he also wants Lenny Levitt’s column. If his name is mentioned, it is not a happy day.”

Edited by Donald Forst


Copyright © 2013 Leonard Levitt