Entries in Muslim (16)


Father of 'American Taliban' Is 'Proud' of Son's Testimony in Group Prayer Lawsuit

John Walker Lindh's mother and father, Marilyn Walker and Frank Lindh, in 2002. SHAWN THEW/AFP/Getty Images(TERRE HAUTE, Ind.) -- The father of John Walker Lindh, the young American who was captured in Afghanistan after 9/11 and sentenced to prison for aiding the Taliban against U.S. troops, said he is proud of his son for fighting in court Monday for the right to pray with other Muslim prisoners.

"I was really proud of John," Frank Lindh told ABC News. "Today he did such a good job of explaining the daily prayer. It was a really well-informed testimony. It shows how much depth of knowledge he has about Islam."

John Lindh, who pleaded guilty to helping the Taliban and carrying explosives, testified in court Monday that a prison policy limiting group prayer has forced him to sin.

Lindh, 31, is suing prison officials for the right to pray five times a day with fellow Islamic inmates instead of praying alone in his cell.

Lindh is being held in the Communications Management Unit in Terre Haute, Ind., where he is serving a 20-year sentence for supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony.

"I am a Muslim and my religion requires that I perform five daily prayers in congregation. This is mandatory and not optional," Lindh wrote in a handwritten complaint to prison officials that was also filed in federal court.

A ban on daily group prayer was instituted in 2007 after Muslim inmates ignored a lockdown caused by a fire alarm, court documents stated. Inmates are free to pray in their individual cells.

Every Friday, Lindh and his fellow inmates in the specialized unit are permitted to gather in the multipurpose room of the prison for the Jum'ah prayer service, which the Koran dictates must be done in a group, court documents stated.

The Communications Management Unit, which was established in 2006, has been referred to as "Guantanamo North." Inmates whose communications are considered "high risk" to the prison community and the public's security are housed in individual cells within the unit, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.

Amos Guiora, a professor of law at the University of Utah who teaches religion and terrorism courses, said daily group prayers in the unit are unlikely to be a terrorism concern.

"I don't think it raises security concerns, but if it goes beyond the text of the prayer than I can understand how it could be seen as a security question," Guiora said.

The daily prayers typically take "only a few minutes," according to Lindh's lawsuit.

Frank Lindh said he and John's mother take turns each month commuting from their homes in California to visit their son in Terre Haute, which is 70 miles from Indianapolis.

He said he gets a 15-minute phone call from his son every Wednesday, while John's mother gets a call every Sunday.

"It's a very safe environment for John. I'm sorry he's in prison but this is the best circumstance, that he is not in the general population," the elder Lindh said.

John Walker Lindh, who converted to Islam as a teenager, was captured in Afghanistan on Nov. 25, 2001. During his sentencing, he condemned terrorism and said he made a "mistake" joining the Taliban.

"Although I thought I knew a good deal about the Taliban when I went to the front line, it's clear to me now that there were many things of which I was not aware," he said.

At the end of his testimony Monday, Lindh was placed in chains and transported back to Terre Haute. On Tuesday, he will be provided with a video link so he can still be present during proceedings in his case, his father said.

Lindh is eligible for release in 2019.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Muslim Group Offers Reward for Criminals in Muslim Garb

Philadelphia Police(PHILADELPHIA) -- A Muslim group in Philadelphia is offering a $20,000 reward for tips leading to the arrest of criminals who have been dressing up as Muslim women.

A string of bank robberies and a homicide committed by men dressed as Muslim women has inspired the Majlis Ash Shura, a group representing Philadelphia-area Muslim congregations, to put up the reward.

“Philadelphia is a unique city in that Islam is not new here,” Aliya Khabir, a spokesman for the United Muslim Masajid, said.  “It’s up to us to set the tone for how this is addressed.”

Police are searching for suspects in five bank robberies and a murder in which a man wearing a veil similar to those worn by conservative Muslim women shot and killed a barber at a barbershop outside of the city, according to ABC News affiliate WPVI.

“We are seeing this all too often now, cowards dressing in the outer garb of Muslim women, robbing banks, shooting people,” said District Attorney Seth Williams.

A suspect in the murder case has been arrested, but police are still searching for at least two other suspects for the bank robberies. The suspects are described as two black males with thin builds, approximately 5-feet-10. The men were seen in surveillance video wearing loose dark-colored dresses and head coverings, according to the Philadelphia police department.

Authorities do not think that the crimes are the work of a single group, but rather individuals adopting the same strategy.

Imam Asim Abdul Rashid, of the group that is sponsoring the reward, said Tuesday the crimes are endangering members of the Muslim community.

“It puts our women in danger and it puts a black mark on our community in general,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Muslim Woman Sues Conn. University for Alleged Terrorism Claim

University of Bridgeport. www[dot]bridgeport[dot]edu(BRIDGEPORT, Conn.) -- A Muslim woman has sued the University of Bridgeport for allegedly reporting her to the FBI rather than investigating her sexual harassment complaints against a fellow student at the Connecticut school.

Balayla Ahmad, 35, said the school ignored her repeated reports of harassment and instead falsely accused her of being a terrorist because she was an African-American Muslim, according to a federal complaint.

Ahmad, who is represented by Brad Conover of New York City-based Conover Law Offices, filed the discrimination complaint Tuesday that includes the university's president, his assistant, a dean and the director of security.

They "exhibited deliberate indifference to Ahmad's repeated complaints of severe student-on-student sexual harassment" and instead retaliated by "recklessly disseminating false accusations by the harasser which the defendants had good reason to know were unreliable," according to the lawsuit.

The University of Bridgeport said that it would be premature to reply to the suit. "We haven't seen the complaint yet so we can't comment," spokeswoman Leslie Geary said.

Ahmad's problems first began in 2009 when she was a graduate student at Bridgeport's College of Chiropractic, according to the complaint. She said that from February through April of that year she was constantly harassed by a fellow student, who she says made repeated sexual advances at her.

She first reported him in April 2009 to several teachers as well as the provost, none of whom reported the incident to the university's president, Neil Salonen, according to the complaint. After reporting the incident to Salonen, against the urging of some professors, she had a meeting with the college's dean who, according to the complaint, told her that his hands were tied and asked what she suggested he do.

She filed a police report with the Bridgeport Police Department in April 2009. Bridgeport police confirmed that Ahmad filed a complaint in April 2009 but declined to detail the nature of the allegation.

Ahmad was later approached by university security directors, who asked whether she had reported sexual harassment, according to the complaint.

One of the directors told her, "We have allegations that have been made against you and if you don't come with us, we will contact the FBI," according to the complaint.

Two FBI agents met with Ahmad, the complaint alleges. It was during this meeting that she learned that the fellow student had been spreading rumors that she was a terrorist in retaliation for her complaint against him, according to the complaint.

While William Reiner of the Connecticut branch of the FBI wouldn't comment specifically on this case, he said the FBI takes all reports seriously.

"In general, the FBI receives all types of information, which are assessed for investigative merit," he said. "The least intrusive methods are utilized to make a determination if full investigations are warranted. The FBI is very cognizant of the rights of individuals while making this assessment and takes seriously its responsibility to ensure those rights are protected. The FBI will not comment on a particular lead or investigation."

Attorney Conover said, "The sexual harassment investigation never occurred. Instead it became about her."

Ahmad was dismissed from the school in June 2009 after, she says in the complaint, she was unable to attend class because of the alleged persistent harassment as well as perceived threats of federal prosecution.

Her lawyer said his client has suffered from the aftermath of 9/11.

"It's profiling that has been happening in this country since September 11," he said, "and it appeared to be the university's sole focus instead of investigating that case that she made about sexual harassment."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New York Arson Attacks Under Investigation as Hate Crimes

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Four arson attacks in Queens, N.Y., are being investigated as possible hate crimes against Muslims, police said.

The attacks, which took place around 8 p.m. Sunday, targeted an Islamic center housing a prominent Shiite mosque, a bodega and two private homes.

Police and fire officials say at least two of the attacks appear to have stemmed from a dispute at the bodega, where a customer of Guyanese descent argued with an employee.  The customer allegedly returned to the bodega and tossed a Molotov cocktail behind the counter.

Authorities were investigating whether the employee worshiped at the Islamic center, which was hit by a similar firebomb made from a glass Starbucks bottle.

"No matter what the motivation was of the individual who threw Molotov cocktails in Queens last night, his actions stand in stark contrast to the New York City of today that we've built together," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement Monday.

The door of the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation Islamic center was blackened by the blast but the building did not catch fire.

"We thank Allah (SWT) that no major damage or injury was caused by the blast," reads a message on the foundation's website.  "The Foundation reiterates its resolve to continue to serve the community and to strive to bring love where there is hatred, light where there is darkness and enlightenment where there is ignorance."

A fifth attack involving an incendiary device thrown through the front window of a home in neighboring Nassau County at 9:40 p.m. is also under investigation.  The device did not ignite a fire, and no injuries were reported.  NYPD officials say the firebomb matched the Molotov cocktails used in the first three Queens attacks.

Although none of the attacks caused any injuries, flames that erupted at one of the homes took more than 60 firefighters about 40 minutes to control.  The other home attacked, which also serves as a Hindu temple, was hit by two Molotov cocktails thrown from a van that sped away.  The bottles fizzled out.

All five incidents are under investigation as arsons.  At least some appeared to target Muslims.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alleged NYC Synagogue Bomb Plotters Plead Not Guilty

Lucas Jackson-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Two Muslin men pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges related to what prosecutors say was a terrorist plot targeting New York synagogues.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office says Ahmed Ferhani, 26, and Mohamed Mamdouh, 20, “conspired to bomb synagogues and churches in Manhattan to send a message of violence to non-Muslims, including Americans, Christians, and, primarily, Jews.”

Prosecutors say the two men planned to “dress up as Jewish worshipers, attend a service at a synagogue, and leave a bag containing a bomb inside the synagogue before departing.”

According to the criminal indictment, between October 2010 and May 2011, the suspects planned to blow up 10 synagogues at one time and use grenades to blow up churches.

Prosecutors say a seven-month investigation began when the two men were recorded planning the attacks.  Authorities say they were arrested in May during a sting operation after they purchased weapons from an undercover agent.

Both men have been charged with numerous weapons possession and terrorism offenses.  Each faces up to 32 years in prison if convicted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mosque Controversy: 'Bomb Making' Sign Riles Neighbors

Comstock/Thinkstock(AMHERST, N.Y.) -- A dispute over a mosque in Amherst, New York, has the community buzzing about a sign posted in a neighbor's yard that reads, "Bomb Making: Next Driveway."

Many of the mosque's other neighbors have come to its defense, saying linking the religious center to terrorism is preposterous, and though town officials say they don't like the sign, they say there is nothing they can do about it.

The dispute started when the Jaffarya Islamic Center started a new mosque construction two years ago.  According to Amherst town supervisor Barry Weinstein, the homeowner next to the mosque had several disputes with the mosque leaders and the town council over the facility's lighting and fencing.

The property is zoned for a community facility, and there are several businesses on the street, but the mosque is next to a residential property.

After several investigations by the town council and police department over the sign, they have determined that the sign is protected by the first amendment and cannot be forcibly removed.  Weinstein has made several attempts to contact the homeowner and Police Captain Michael Camilleri says they did speak with the homeowner over the civil matter.

"Other than monitor the situation, there's nothing that we can do," Camilleri said.

The grand opening celebration of the mosque is scheduled for Saturday, when leaders and participants will come from Ontario and New York City to participate in events.

The person listed at the residence with the sign, Michael Heick, could not be reached for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Teacher Resigning After Mocking Student About Bin Laden's Death

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- A Texas teacher who allegedly mocked a Muslim teenager last week after the death of Osama bin Laden won't be coming back to his school next fall.

The teacher at Clear Brook High School, whose identity wasn't revealed, is currently on administrative leave without pay and will resign at the end of the spring semester.

According to school officials familiar with the investigation, the teacher reportedly told a ninth grade student in the algebra class he taught, "I bet that you're grieving" during a discussion about bin Laden's death.

The teacher was accused of deliberately profiling the Muslim girl and making insensitive comments.  The school issued a statement that his remarks did not reflect attitudes of school or district workers.

Following the school's probe, the president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston said the district's response to the incident was appropriate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Teacher Mocks Muslim Student, Claims Osama Bin Laden Connection

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- A Houston math teacher is under scrutiny after allegedly making racially-fueled comments to a Muslim student regarding the death of Osama bin Laden.

The female student, an American-born ninth-grader at Clear Brook High School, said that her algebra teacher told her "I bet you're grieving" about the death of the former al Qaeda leader, according to ABC News Houston affiliate KTRK-TV. He then proceeded to refer to bin Laden as the girl’s uncle, at which point she broke into tears.

“His response was, 'Oh, okay,' and just kind of smirked and giggled and walked away," the girl’s mother, who asked that she and her daughter’s identities not be released, said.

The school district was quick to distance itself from the instructor, whose identity has also not been released.

“The sentiments allegedly shared by this teacher are not reflective of the staff at Clear Brook High School or anyone within the Clear Creek Independent School District,” administrators said in a statement.

The teacher has been placed on administrative leave and an investigation into the incident is underway.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Muslim-Americans React to Death of Osama Bin Laden

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Muslim-American associations in the Washington, D.C., area lauded the death of Osama Bin Laden in a press conference Monday and said the country must focus on moving forward.

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, reiterated the stance that bin Laden never represented the interests of the Muslim community and expressed hope that people across the world would disassociate Bin Laden and al Qaeda from the religion of Islam.

“Osama bin Laden never represented our community, Islam or Muslims.  In fact, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in addition to killing thousands of Americans on 9/11,” Awad said.  “He and al Qaeda have killed countless of innocent Muslims in the world that followed 9/11.  Our thoughts and prayers are always and have been always with the families of those who were killed on 9/11 and those who were killed in the aftermath of 9/11.”

“In those ten years, we have grown.  We’ve grown as a nation.  We’ve learned more about one another that has created a resilience that I believe now demonstrates that the Phoenix is rising out of the ashes of 9/11,” Imam Johari Abdul Malik, an executive committee member of the Council of Muslim Organizations, said.

Despite bin Laden’s death, they warned al Qaeda will continue to maintain a strong presence in the world. 

“Osama bin Laden’s name and his videos will no longer be produced to remind us of the hatred he fomented,” Abdul Malik said.  “It is also a day to say we have to move beyond the acts of revenge to reconciliation, that unfortunately al Qaeda still exists and they will continue to foment a message that is un-Islamic.”

They urged leaders to exercise caution and move away from a system of divisiveness to one of reconciliation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Florida Pastor Terry Jones Has Received 300 Death Threats

Mario Tama/Getty Images(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- Florida Pastor Terry Jones -- who last month supervised as another pastor soaked the Islamic holy book in kerosene and set it ablaze -- and members of his small Gainesville, Fla., church have received at least 300 "credible" death threats since demonstrations in Afghanistan against Jones' actions turned violent, causing some Afghan protesters to lash out at United Nations workers and others thought to be associated with the West.

ABC News has learned that the FBI is alerting Jones and Wayne Sapp, the man who actually lit the Koran on fire, of specific threats -- ones that reference a time and place where an attack may occur.

They have "crossed the point of no return," Sapp told ABC News. "We can't go back now," he said.

In an interview this weekend with ABC News, Jones said that he did not feel personally responsible for the violent protest at a United Nations compound in Afghanistan on Friday left 11 dead. Instead, he said, the violence proved his point.

"We wanted to raise awareness of this dangerous religion and dangerous element," Jones said. "I think [the attack] proves that there is a radical element of Islam."

The deaths followed a protest march in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday against the actions of the American pastors.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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