Philadelphia a terrorist haven - says counter terrorism chief -local fifth columnist Marwan Kreidie & city commissioner disagree
September 2, 2005
MIM: In another example of political correctness becoming outright denial in the case of the radical Islamist threat the claims made by the Philadelphia chief inspector that the city was a terrorist haven was rejected by the police commissioner who apologised and contradicted his colleague .The view of the commissioner was shared by local Islamist Marwan Kreidie, who is being feted by law enforcement as a legitimate spokesman for Muslims despite his fifth columnist agenda on behalf of radical Islamists which was documented by Dr.Daniel Pipes: http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1937
"...Kreidie has repeatedly damned counterterrorist measures and to my knowledge has never approved a single one. He
More broadly, Kreidie rejects law-enforcement counterterrorist efforts as "massive intrusions on civil liberties" that "enraged" Arab and Muslim Americans. He even characterized anti-terrorism efforts as "unconstitutional."
Second, Kreidie viciously attacks the Bush administration. He condemned what he called the "assaults on human rights mounted by President Bush and his Attorney General, John Ashcroft." He accused President George W. Bush of "a litany of anti-Arab and Muslim actions." He on one occasion referred to the attorney general (who, among his other jobs, oversees the FBI) as "that lunatic Ashcroft."
Third, Kreidie denies American Muslims have anything to do with terrorism. "Nobody in my community supports Osama," he has announced, thereby in advance exonerating Muslims of connections to Al-Qaeda and making one wonder how much help he can provide the FBI. After the U.S. president personally signed the papers to close down the Holy Land Foundation, an Islamic "charity," and the treasury secretary described it as an organization that "exists to raise money in the United States to promote terror," Kreidie insisted on the foundation being a legitimate charitable organization. When the Pennsylvania state treasurer, Barbara Hafer, suspected that $210,000 stolen by individuals with Arabic names could be connected to terrorism, Kreidie jumped on her statement as baseless and inflammatory.
Summing up his whole outlook, Kreidie has said that for American Arabs and Muslims, working with the FBI is "a waste of time."
Police brass clash at mosque sit-down
The head of the Philadelphia Police Department's counterterrorism unit is standing by his assertion that the city is a hideout for terrorists.
His boss, Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson, apologized for him and contradicted him during a lunch yesterday with bemused and offended Arab Americans and Muslims at the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the edge of Northern Liberties.
But Chief Inspector Joseph E. O'Connor would not take back the comment he made after the London transit bombings that Philadelphia is "notorious for fund-raising and recruitment" by terrorist organizations.
"I do know they recruited at a mosque," said O'Connor yesterday, referring to the London bombers. "I'm not saying that it's happening here... . I don't know."
"It's not happening here," Marwan Kreidie, head of the Arab American Development Corp., a community organization, told him.
"It could," O'Connor shot back.
When pressed, he could not provide any details to back up his assertion that the city is a terrorist haven.
Johnson, sitting beside O'Connor at a lunch intended to mend fences at the Germantown Avenue mosque, jumped in to say that O'Connor's position is not that of the Philadelphia Police Department.
"We do not feel that way, and that's coming from me as police commissioner," Johnson said. "Joe O'Connor has his own opinions.
"There's nothing that would indicate there's a problem with the Muslim community collecting money for or harboring people who are extreme Muslims," he said. "No one at the FBI has ever said those things to me, and as far as I know, they don't feel the same way, either."
O'Connor, former commander of the department's elite SWAT team, was suspended for 10 days and passed up for promotion in 2002 after he failed to report an accident involving his command car in 2000. He was finally promoted and transferred to the antiterrorism unit in 2003.
"I never meant to offend anybody in the Islamic community," O'Connor said yesterday after the meeting with mosque and community leaders. "I was surprised they were offended. I was kind of taken aback they were not more offended by the attacks" in London. On July 7, bombers detonated explosives in three Underground stations and aboard a bus, killing 52 other people; two weeks later, attackers failed in attempts to bomb four transit targets.
After the lunch, the imam, Chukri Khorchid, handed out instructional pamphlets about Islam, including one titled "Law Enforcement Official's Guide to the Muslim Community." And mosque leaders said they would watch out for extremists in their midst. Hundreds of people attend weekly prayer at the mosque.
"Our purpose was not to dwell" on O'Connor's comment, Kreidie said. "Our purpose was to work together with the Police Department. I still disagree with him. So does the FBI, so does the Police Department."
Contact staff writer Gaiutra Bahadur at 215-854-2601 or [email protected].
Philadelphia Inquirer: Questions Around Raid at Philadelphia Mosque
Questions surround raid at city mosque
By Thomas Ginsberg and Thomas J. Gibbons Jr. Philadelphia Inquirer
Fri, May. 28, 2004
Heavily armed IRS and immigration agents raided a Philadelphia mosque and two homes yesterday, seizing documents and detaining the imam on immigration charges.
IRS officials gave no immediate explanation for the action, which came one day after U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced stepped-up operations based on concerns that al-Qaeda operatives were plotting an attack.
Jerri Williams, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia office of the FBI, whose agents joined the raids but did not lead them, said there was no immediate suspicion of terrorism. "We have no information connecting activities or individuals involved with terrorism-related matters," she said. "But as part of our support, we'd be reviewing items obtained to see if there is any terrorism connection."
A copy of one search warrant in yesterday's raids indicated that authorities were looking for financial documents, including banking, payroll and wire-transfer records.
Imam Mohamed Ghorab, 45, an Egyptian national and cleric of the small Ansaar Allaah Islamic Society at 2225 Wakeling St. in East Frankford, was taken into custody and was being held on immigration charges.
Arab community leaders, however, expressed concern that Ghorab's radical views were the reason he came under scrutiny.
"We hope it has nothing to do with that," said Chukri Korchid, an imam at Al-Aqsa Islamic Society, where Ghorab worked briefly in 2001.
Ghorab was described by some Arab community leaders as an outspoken cleric with "anti-Western" views who had run afoul of Muslim immigrant leaders in the city, according to Samir Salah, an Arab community activist.
In 2002, Ghorab called on congregants to oppose the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan under way at the time, according to people who have attended his services, Salah said.
Ghorab's wife, Meriem Moumen, a native of Morocco who was briefly detained yesterday, defended her husband, telling reporters he is a peaceful and "loving person."
"He's the one who told us that your visa - it's a contract of peace. You cannot go bombing people. You can't. You can't hurt children. You can't hurt old people," Moumen said.
The raids began around 8:15 a.m., when dozens of agents, some with dogs, stormed the mosque and the house adjoining it, said a witness working across the street at the time who did not give his name. Plainclothes agents were armed with "submachine guns, high-powered rifles," the witness said.
Moumen, 33, said she and her husband were dropping off her daughter at an elementary school when agents appeared and ordered them to put up their hands. Later, she said, one agent asked if she was one of the seven people with ties to al-Qaeda being sought by federal authorities.
"They crossed the line," Moumen said, noting that agents had visited and watched the mosque in the past. "Since when is being a Muslim a crime?"
The mosque - in a blue-collar neighborhood near the corner of Wakeling and busy Aramingo Avenue - is a sprawling one-story, cinder-block building formerly occupied by auto-repair operations, neighbors said. The building is surrounded by a 10-foot-tall chain-link fence topped with barbed wire.
Just to the west and adjoining the mosque is the imam's home - a 21/2-story single that also was raided yesterday.
The other raided location was a home on Covered Bridge Path in Bustleton belonging to the mosque director, Moumen said.
A woman leaving the home yesterday said agents had taken documents. She declined to identify herself.
Marc Raimondi, spokesman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, said Ghorab was arrested on immigration violations last year and ordered deported, but he appealed the ruling and was released on $50,000 bond.
Immigration agents yesterday summarily revoked his bond during the raid and detained him "pending deportation from the United States," Raimondi said. He declined to give further details other than saying nobody else was detained yesterday by immigration agents.
According to Salah, Ghorab came to Philadelphia in the latter part of 2001 from New York, where he had worked at one point as a taxi driver.
His wife said he had come to the United States around 2000. It was unclear what kind of visa he possessed.
Ghorab came to Philadelphia to help conduct services during Ramadan at Al-Aqsa Islamic Society, a mosque catering mainly to immigrant Muslims. The mosque every year invites imams, sometimes from abroad, to help with the busy Ramadan period.
Korchid, the imam at Al-Aqsa, declined to discuss details about Ghorab or his work until authorities clarified their suspicions and any charges.
However, Salah and other Arab community leaders said mosque leaders had a falling out with Ghorab over his religious and political views.
"He was too much for the Al-Aqsa, politically, and very conservative in religious views. You could call him radical," Salah said.
Members have described an unorthodox fund-raising style, in which Ghorab once locked the doors of his mosque during collection times until he had reached his goal of raising $20,000, Salah said.
Khorchid would only confirm that mosque leaders had "severed ties" with Ghorab shortly after his arrival and before the 9/11 attacks.
At some point later, Ghorab began working at the mosque in East Frankford. He filed articles of incorporation formally establishing the mosque on Jan. 22, 2002, according to documents on file with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
The search warrant issued yesterday noted that the investigation covered a period back to Jan. 1, 2002.
Ghorab listed himself as president of the nonprofit "Ansaarullaah Islaamic Society," establishing the corporation with Sayfullah McNeil, a Philadelphia imam listed as general secretary.
McNeil, an African American Muslim, is president of a mosque at 52d and Market Streets in West Philadelphia, Masjid Al Birr Wat Taqwa. McNeil also is vice president of the Islaamic Society of America, listed in West Philadelphia, records show.
McNeil could not be reached yesterday.
Ghorab's mosque typically draws about 100 worshipers, mostly working-class immigrants from the Middle East, to its weekly Friday services, Salah said.