Islamic group in Queens founded by Brooklyn College student arrested in UK for ties to Canadian terror plot calls for Jihad
June 9, 2006
JIHAD FEAR IN QUEENS
GANG'S UGLY TACTICS
By LORENA MONGELLI and PATRICK GALLAHUE
"They have a lot of hatred [but] the police said they can't do anything about them," Kana Chauhan, president of the Jackson Heights Merchants Association, said of the radical group Al Muhajiroun.
The organization is tied to suspected terrorist ally Syed "Fahad" Hashmi, a disciple of Syrian cleric Omar Bakri who was banned from speaking on English college campuses.
The Queens-bred Hashmi, who was arrested in London Wednesday on charges he moved funds and military gear to notorious terror camps in Pakistan, founded the local chapter of the extremist group. Each weekend, it sets up its hate-spewing operation on 37th Avenue and 74th Street.
"They're against America, they make trouble," local merchant Amarjit Singh said. "Whatever they say is really nasty."
Hashmi, who has called the United States "the biggest terrorist in the world" and is a fan of homegrown Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh, was indicted last month in Manhattan. He's fighting extradition in Britain.
Meanwhile, nearly every Saturday for more than a year, Hashmi's buddies - who call themselves the Islamic Thinkers - have unloaded their propaganda from a minivan and set up a table festooned with anti-U.S. banners and fliers.
Then, shouting and using a megaphone, the young firebrands - most are in their 20s and early 30s - walk the street spewing hate.
"They display pictures of people dying in the war. They want people to feel they're right and get them thinking against [President] Bush and America," said Sarabjit Damber, 24.
"They're talking crap about America, saying, 'Bush is a terrorist,' or that 'America is not good, don't trust these people,' " he said.
The group also is suspected of trying to recruit second-generation Muslim immigrants to fight against America, police sources said.
Fights often break out between the jihadists and passers-by, merchants said.
Hashmi graduated from Brooklyn College in 2003 with a degree in political science.
He stirred up trouble there as early as spring 2001 by inviting Al Muhajiroun members to give hate-laced speeches on campus.
Sources said he attended Robert F. Wagner HS in Long Island City.
Additional reporting by Heidi Singer