The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and several Muslim leaders commended the New York City Police Department for its surveillance of Muslim students.
Rep. Peter King, R-NY, attended the American Islamic Forum For Democracy rally held outside NYPD headquarters in lower Manhattan on Monday.
King backs the NYPD's counterterrorism efforts, saying most Muslims are good people, but terror threats come primarily from the Muslim community.
"It's not going to be doing us any good to be picking up the bodies after the next attack. We want to prevent that attack from happening," King said.
"The only way you do that is by getting good intelligence, and you do that from within the community, by surveillance, by using informants, and by finding out whatever you can to prevent that next attack," he said.
About 40 people attended Monday's rally, the first held by Muslims who support the NYPD. The rally came after a series of Associated Press stories detailing the police department's secret surveillance of mosques, Muslim-owned businesses, and college campuses across the Northeast.
Qazi Qayyoom, an imam from Queens who participated in the event, said the police department is keeping his community safe.
"The police, they come to us and say, 'Is everything OK? How can we help you?'" he said.
"They are not trying to hurt us. For this, I want to say thank you and tell them I support them," he added.
Many civil rights groups have criticized the NYPD for its surveillance of the Muslim community. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vigorously defended the program.