Boston Bombings: Coming to a City Near You?

By Hillel Zaremba

The tragic events of April 15 have justifiably reignited public concern about the nature and extent of domestic Islamist radicalization. Because the surviving bomber has been   Mirandized by the Obama Department of Justice, it may be years before we know exactly what or who prompted Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to take the lives of innocent Americans. However, there is enough evidence to indicate that the mosque with which they associated may have played a role in their descent into depravity. And if their mosque somehow influenced them in this fashion, do other mosques in America present a similar danger?

What  we know about the marathon bombers is that “The mosque attended by the two brothers (the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center-Cambridge [ISBCC]) …has been associated with other terrorism suspects [and] has invited radical speakers to a sister mosque in Boston…

Both mosques are affiliated with the  Muslim American Society (MAS) an American arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB ), the group that spawned Hamas and al-Qaeda and which seeks to   curtail civil liberties in Egypt and   impose Sharia on all.
None of these disturbing signs from Boston, which critics had pointed out for years, had any effect on the way these mosques were treated by those who run the Bay State. To the contrary, ISBCC was the recipient of tax-payer generosity in the form of a bargain-basement sale price on prime real estate for its new home as well as formal displays of friendship from  Gov. Deval Patrick and  Mayor Tom Menino.

Nor were prominent spiritual leaders of Boston concerned by statements of intolerance cloaked in the garb of “religious expression.” When Charles Jacobs, head of  Americans for Peace and Tolerance, brought inflammatory remarks by of one of the mosque’s leaders to the public’s attention, he was savaged by the Boston interfaith community, including  70 area rabbis.

Is such willful blindness unique to Boston or Massachusetts? Sadly, it is more likely that such attitudes are par for the course in every major American city with a sizable Muslim population. It certainly is the case in Philadelphia.

There are approximately 40 mosques in the City of Brotherly Love and its surrounding suburbs, as well as active branches of Brotherhood affiliates like CAIR and MSA, many of which are warmly welcomed by the  Mayor’s Office of Faith Based Initiatives (MOFI), as well as a prominent local NGO, the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia (ICGP). No one in either office has apparently sought to inquire just whom they are partnering with.

“We don’t have to endorse you to work with you” stated MOFI’s interim director, Reverend Malcolm Byrd, when asked if he vetted his constituent Muslim groups. He explained further that one ought to “trust the government to have the objectivity and integrity to scope out involvement with a community.”

Tell that to the families of 29-year old Krystle Campbel or 8-year old Martin Richard who lost their lives to the Boston bombers.

Abby Stamelman Hocky, ICGP’s executive director, sounded a similar tune. Despite being presented with sourced documentation of some of her Muslim partners’ disturbing actions and pronouncements, the author was assured that if I really knew the leaders of these groups, I would be convinced they were, in truth, moderates.

To illustrate the dangerous naiveté that pervades the city’s elites, let us examine just one of the mosques that feels at home in Philadelphia, the Quba Institute (QI).

QI grew out of an  organization founded by an African-American convert to Islam named Muhammad Ezzaldeen, who spent time in Egypt in the 1930s at precisely the same moment when Egyptian Hassan al-Banna was establishing the global  Muslim Brotherhood. Ezzaldeen’s group eventually grew into, and was renamed, the International Muslim Brotherhood, Inc. (IMB ) in Philadelphia in 1949.

Is this shared name just a coincidence?

In the late 1960s, the Philadelphia-based IMB  forged partnerships with the Muslim Student Associations [MSA] of local Universities. The MSA is, according to a  document seized by authorities and entered into evidence in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing trial, one of the Brotherhood’s 29 likeminded “organizations of our friends” sharing the common goal of teaching Muslims “that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands … so that … God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.”

QI/IMB has  boasted about its association with two Brotherhood luminaries: Abu Sulaiman and Hassan Turabi. Saudi-born Abdul-Hamid Abu Sulaiman (var. “Sulayman”) is a founding member of the MB’s intellectual beachhead in the U.S., the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). From 1973-1979, he was the Secretary General of the Saudi-based  World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) which publishes anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and anti-Shi’ah literature; as the executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, put it: “WAMY [is] the Saudi equivalent of the Hitler Youth: a hate-mongering, ultra-extremist group.”

The other Brotherhood bigwig associated with QI/IMB, Hassan Turabi, helped bring the National Islamic Front (NIF) to power in the Sudan and, once installed in power, established Sharia as the law of the land by force. Turabi was both a champion of Saddam Hussein and a longtime mentor, friend, and host to Osama bin Laden during his stay in Sudan.

According to Oliver Revell, the FBI’s former top counterterrorism official, “anybody who brings in Hassan Turabi is supporting terrorists.”

We do not know exactly when QI/IMB hosted Sulaiman and Turabi and perhaps current leadership has turned over a new leaf, making past connections irrelevant. Perhaps not.
Quba’s current spiritual leader and CEO,  Anwar Muhaimin was born in the U.S. but grew up in Wahhabi-dominated Saudi Arabia with his brother, Anas (also an imam). When the brothers returned to America, they opened QI as a full-time non-public, non-licensed day school (pre-K-8)  eligible to receive public funds through the school district of Philadelphia.

The brothers have a reputation for moderation within the local “dialogue” community yet in a (now scrubbed) February 2010 Facebook posting, Anwar Muhaimin favorably cited an   article which dismissed claims that Anwar al-Awlaki was a terrorist, months after it had become clear that the Fort Hood massacre perpetrated by Major Nidal Hasan had been inspired in part by Awlaki’s teachings and correspondence. A few months later, in July 2010, the imam spoke up for reporter Octavia Nasr, whose support for Holocaust-denying and suicide bombing booster Ayatollah Fadlallah led to her dismissal by CNN. Other Facebook postings include condemnation of the Peter King congressional hearings on radical Islam (March 2011), characterization of researcher David Yerushalmi as a “White Supremacist” (April 2011) and letting his Facebook “friends” know that “Nationalists pose [a] bigger threat than al-Qaeda.”

Should we then take seriously brother Anas Muhaimin’s mystified reaction to the March 2010 arrest of Sharif Mobley, who grew up and studied at QI/IMB? Mobley was arrested in Yemen for ties to Anwar al-Awlaki and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. American law enforcement officials said they had been keeping their eyes on him for some time. When questioned by reporters, Anas  declared that he had “strongly discouraged him from going to Yemen. I told him Yemen was very, very unstable.”

Muhaimin’s protestations of puzzlement sound strikingly similar to those   uttered by ISBCC’s leaders after the Boston bombings. In the face of public revulsion and subsequent media scrutiny, mosque leaders profess to be as clueless as the next guy as to where these young men could have picked up their ideas. Perhaps they need to take a closer look at their own teachings.
An older version of the QI/IMB mosque’s website is illustrative. Patrons of Masjid Quba are told to “specifically reject terrorism as method for forwarding any Islamic or Muslim cause” but there is one important caveat: QI/IMB’s members can engage in jihad al-saif (armed warfare) “in the context of self-defense or guarding the sacred, holy lands of Islam” (author’s emphasis).

What constitutes the “sacred, holy lands of Islam” is open to some interpretative leeway. Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch considers the entire state of Israel “sacred, holy lands of Islam,” legitimating its murderous attacks on innocent civilians on that basis. Osama bin Laden justified his attacks against the U.S. because he viewed the American presence in Saudi Arabia as an infidel occupation of “of the Two Holy Places.”

We  now know that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev viewed his crime as standing up for Muslims all over the world (“When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims”). In the Islamist view, all Muslims are part of a universal ummah and any action taken against Muslims anywhere becomes a provocation for retaliation by a fellow-Muslim anywhere else.

Which view dominates in the confines of the Quba Institute or the other Muslim worship centers of Philadelphia and other American cities? Do Muslims in these places truly learn to consider their fellow citizens as brothers and sisters regardless of their faith? Or do they adhere to their prophet’s injunction – “O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends!” (Qur’an 5:51)

When asked to help apply Justice Brandeis’ “disinfectant of sunshine” to all area faith-groups by asking them to open their doors, sermons and curricula to public scrutiny, Philadelphia’s Interfaith Center demurred, citing more pressing issues. Whether an examination of what is taught and preached in area mosques would produce a greater sense of comfort or its opposite remains to be seen. But greater transparency is long overdue, and may help ensure that there will be fewer Tsarnaevs lurking in our midst.

For the record, in April 2010, Muhaimin responded favorably to an  article repudiating al-Awlaki by fellow Philadelphian Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad.

Hillel Zaremba is associate director of  Islamist Watch,
a project of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, which seeks to
combat the ideas and institutions of non-violent Islamism in the United
States and throughout the West.

Boston Bombings: Coming to a City Near You?

Boston Bombings: Coming to a City Near You?

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