Islamic Center of South Jersey talks peace at staged open house preaches jihad in books and pamphlets
May 25, 2007
Duka Brother's Mosque - Islamic Center Of South Jersey Promotes Jihad At Open House
By Beila Rabinowitz and William Mayer
May 22, 2007 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - On Friday May 18th the Islamic Center of South Jersey [ICSJ] in Palmyra, which had been the spiritual home of jihadist suspects Dritan, Shain and Eljvir Duka held an "open house" which was billed as intending to convey "a message of peace and tolerance" but revealed their fundamentalist agenda instead.
The event was a choreographed PR and da'wa exercise taken straight out of the North American Imam Federation [NAIF] handbook which explains that Muslims should view terror related incidents and events as an opportunity to do da'wa i.e. proselytize non Muslims.
"Islam is now almost constantly on the news, and Imams must be capable of dealing effectively with the media" Communication should not be limited to responding to misconceptions, but Imams should also take advantage of opportunities to highlight activities in local mosques and the contribution of Muslims to local communities…Given the unfortunate state of the world. it is likely that during each week there will be an opportunity to condemn extremism and violence..." [source http://www.pipelinenews.org/images/NAIFconference.pdf]
According to the NAIF website imams must "encourage people" to "observe Islamic acts of worship."
The open house was the ideal da'wa occasion, with the prayers scheduled in the middle of the event so that the captive audience had no choice but to watch what was for many their first Islamic prayer service. [source http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/2554]
The attempt by the ICSJ's trustees to distance themselves from the terrorists were farcical, portraying Muslims as the real victims of the plot. This angle was played up by ICSJ head trustee Ismail Badat and his wife Naseem who told the press that although she knew of no bias incidents "We want to defuse any tensions" adding "But we are very upset. You cannot tell what could happen."
The participation by the Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR, a Saudi funded front group for Hamas] is further proof of the center's radical Islamist agenda. The organization upped the ante, announcing that "we feel there is a backlash" adding "we hope our fellow citizens won't equate Islam with terrorism based on the action of the defendants."
CAIR's statement is a veiled threat, putting non-Muslims on notice that whoever makes a remark deemed hostile by Muslims might be targeted with a bias lawsuit.
Afsheen Shamsi, CAIR's NJ spokeswoman cited the case of "a man who reportedly yelled racial slurs at a woman on her way to the laundromat" who will likely be victimized by CAIR's legal action.
The disclaimer issued by Badat during the event - endorsed by Zia Rahman who heads the Muslim American Community Association of Voohees whose planned mosque was met with opposition by residents in 2004 who warned it would become a hub of terrorism - was another example of the absurd transparency of Islamist obfuscation in which assurances are made that jihad has nothing to do with violence or Islam.
"We, the Islamic Center of South Jersey of Palmyra and the members of the Muslim American Community Association of Voorhees, condemn in the strongest of terms the alleged plot that was to be carried out at Fort Dix," [source http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/112-05192007-1349284.html]
What was not stated was that the group condemns the plot only because any type of jihadist violence can mean a setback for legal Islamists like them.
As Dr. Daniel Pipes pointed out in his piece "How terrorism obstructs radical Islam".
"Radical Islam has two distinct wings - one violent and illegal, the other lawful and political - and they exist in tension with each other. The lawful strategy has proven itself effective, but the violent approach gets in its way…terrorism obstructs the quiet work of political Islamism. In tranquil times, organizations like… the Council on American-Islamic Relations effectively go about their business, promoting their agenda to make Islam "dominant" and imposing dhimmitude (whereby non-Muslims accept Islamic superiority and Muslim privilege). Westerners generally respond like slowly boiled frogs are supposed to, not noticing a thing." [source http://www.danielpipes.org/article/2888]
Badat and Rahman are keenly aware that the future reception of the planned "Anjuman -e-Fakri" mosque in Cherry Hill hangs in the balance. Their desperation to distance themselves from the jihadists has included statements which implied that the Duka brothers were not Muslims at all.
Forty eight hours after Rahman and the spokeswoman for the planned mosque, Farhat Biviji had partied with Cherry Hill Mayor Platt after breaking ground for the mosque, they issued nearly identical sound bytes.
Farhat Biviji: "My heart sank when we heard of these horrible men who claimed to be Muslims. They are testing us all. Testing our ability to retain that tolerance. I pray that they have not damaged the goodwill of our community." [source http://www.spokesmanreview.com/nation_world/story.asp?ID=188931]
Rahman: "…The news is a setback for all communities across the nation…"When you hear this kind of story, it's heartbreaking," Rahman said. "I frankly cannot understand why anyone would do that." Adding that he was "disappointed" that "Islam which is grounded in peace" was "distorted" by people…people claiming themselves to be Muslims." [source http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070508/NEWS/70508072]
Such selective disenfranchisement raises a question. If Muslims who are arrested for plotting or carrying out terrorist attacks are "just claiming themselves to be Muslims" would they then revert back to the status of Muslims if they are released without charge or acquitted.
The claim made by Rafey Habib, a trustee at the center who is also a professor at Rutgers University, that "jihad means the …struggle is against oneself - to be a good person" is deceitful.
Habib can hardly claim to be unaware of the true meaning of jihad since as recently as last month Rutgers MSA speaker and pro-Palestinian rally leader Mazen Mokhtar - imam at the Al Huda Masjid in New Brunswick New Jersey was jailed on tax evasion charges, but had been under investigation by law enforcement for running fundraising mirror websites for al-Qaeda. Mokhtar is linked to Babar Ahmed a thwarted UK bomb plotter and was also active in the Islamic Circle of North America [ICNA]. A month before his arrest Mokhtar had given a lecture entitled "At the Gates of Paradise" "A Brief Tour of Jannah." [source http://53rdand6th.com/runmsa/newsletter.php?letter_id=132&pageaction=browse]
According to court papers Mokhtar was intent on recruiting fighters for "jihad."
Ironically while Habib was regaling those attending the open house with tales of a Zen like jihad, evidence to the contrary was in plain sight of all.
The books and pamphlets being distributed during this event were sending a contrary message one having more in common with Eljvir Duka's justification of he and his brother's planned attack on Fort Dix, "In the end, when it comes to defending your religion, when someone attacks your religion, your way of life, you go jihad." [source http://ipcommunications.tmcnet.com/news/2007/05/09/286250.htm]
One of the texts provided to event goers was "Towards Understand Islam" by Jamaat-e-Islaami ideologue Abu Ala Mawdudi and produced by ICNA, was promoted as being "beneficial to Muslims and non Muslims alike" adding that "To Muslim youths and adults it serves as a reminder of their fundamental obligations..."
In the chapter headlined "Jihad" we read that:
"Jihad is part of the overall defense of Islam. Jihad means to struggle to the utmost of one's capacity. A man who exerts himself physically or mentally or spends his wealth in the cause of God is engaged in jihad. But in the language of Divine Law this word is used specifically for the war that is waged solely in the name of God against those who perpetrate oppression against the enemies of Islam. This supreme sacrifice is the responsibility of all Muslims. If however a section of the Muslims offers themselves for participating in jihad the whole community is absolved from responsibility. But if no one comes forward everyone is held guilty. This concession vanishes for the citizens of an Islamic state when it is attacked by a non-Muslim power. In that case everyone must come forward for jihad.
If the country that is attacked does not have enough strength to fight back then it is the duty of the neighboring Muslim countries to offer help. If even they fail then the Muslims of the whole world must fight the common enemy. In all these cases then jihad is just as much a primary duty as are daily prayers and fasting. One who avoids it is a sinner. His every claim to being a Muslim is doubtful…" [ICNA/Message Publications Towards an Understanding of Islam pg. 124]
Mawdudi's assertion that avoiding jihad makes one's "claim" to being Muslim "doubtful" is in stark contrast to the PR message being fed to the media by Ismail Badat, Zia Rahman and Farhjat Biviji - that the Duka brothers terrorist plot has nothing to do with Islam because they are only "claiming to be Muslims."
In addition to promoting the fundamentalist concept of jihad, ICNA promotes the extremist view that terrorism is a legitimate response to "oppression."
In a pamphlet entitled "What does Islam say about Terrorism?" The message is that there are many non-Muslim terrorists. The tract is a thinly veiled indictment of Western governments:
"The word terrorism came into wide usage only a few decades ago…It's perpetrators do not fit any stereotype…The frustrated employee who kills his colleagues or the oppressed citizen of an occupied land who vents his anger blowing up school buses are terrorists who provoke our anger and revulsion…Ironically however, the politician who uses age old ethnic animosities to consolidate his position, the head of state who orders carpet bombings of entire cities, the exalted councils that choke millions of civilians to death by wielding the insidious weapon of sanctions , are rarely punished for their crimes against humanity."
In a recent article, "Helping Hand to Hamas" counter-terrorism expert Joe Kaufman explained"
"The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) was founded in 1971, via the Muslim Students Association (MSA), as an umbrella group for South Asian-oriented mosques and Islamic centers. It also contains a youth division called Young Muslims (YM), a multimedia division called Sound Vision, a web information center called Why Islam, a magazine called The Message International, and charities which go by the names ICNA Relief and Helping Hand.
When ICNA was created, it was to act as the American counterpart to the Muslim Brotherhood of Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). [source http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=28316]
The Islamic Center of South Jersey's open house event was a transparent Islamist da'wa exercise, a smokescreen aimed at hiding their radical Islamist agenda. It was fashioned to preempt scrutiny by inviting the public into their mosque as a calculated method of damage control.
Politicians like U. S. Rep .Rob Andrews who gushed:
"I'm very proud to be here and I'm very proud that this center is in our community," "We're here tonight because this is a place where peace is taught. We are united by a common desire that the peaceful practices that we heard tonight be truly a practice, not just an aspiration." [source http://www.courierpostonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070519/NEWS01/705190368/1006]
…played right into the ICSJ and ICNA's hands, acting as "dupes for da'wa."
Instead of taking the scripted words of these New Jersey Muslim leaders at face value the politicians - and law enforcement personal present - should instead be probing beneath the benign appearing façade, examining the ICNA literature being offered, scrutinize the center's website which features links to Islamist entities and conduct an investigation to determine who and what at the ICSJ might have set the Duka's on the road to jihad at Fort Dix.
MIM: The lecture below may have been the last one given by Mazen Mokhtar before his arrest.
MIM: Mokhtar was arrested in March on charges of tax evasion which might have been triggered by setting up mirror sites for the Azzam site of Al Qaeda.
PDF] Dossier: Azzam Publications UK (Azzam.com, Qoqaz.net) and Mazen ... File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
MIM: According to ICSJ head Ismail Badat -Islam means peace unless something happens to get Muslims like the Duka brothers "peaced off".
PALMYRA, New Jersey: Authorities maintain that at least five of the six men charged in the Fort Dix terror plot planned to kill in the name of God. But the mosque where they worshipped says it only taught them about peace.
The Islamic Center of South Jersey, and many other Muslim institutions in the state, are trying to convince people that their religious teachings did not play a role in an alleged plot to massacre U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix.
The mosque has planned a meeting Friday evening for political, law enforcement and community leaders to ask questions about Islam.
Three of the six men charged — Dritan "Anthony" Duka, 28, and his brothers Shain, 26, and Eljvir, 23 — worshipped at the mosque regularly. Eljvir Duka's brother-in-law, 22-year-old Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, also prayed at the Palmyra mosque occasionally.
The three Duka brothers, Shnewer, and Serdar Tatar face life in prison if they are convicted of conspiring to kill military personnel; the sixth man, Agron Abdullahu, faces a weapons charge.
Ismail Badat, the chairman of the board of trustees for the mosque, maintains that if the young men were talking up extremist views, they were not doing it at the Islamic Center.
"The mosques follow the true meaning of Islam, which is the Quran," Badat said. "We have no other ideology in the mosques. When they have that, that's when the trouble starts."
Palmyra Mayor John Gural said he would attend.
"I just want to be assured that the people who attend services at the mosque — that there are no more people at the mosque like the people who were arrested," he said.
It is a message that many in New Jersey are trying to convey as the terror plot case spawns further recriminations against Muslims.http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/05/18/america/NA-GEN-US-Fort-Dix-Plot-Mosque.php
The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations held a news conference Friday morning to publicize the case of a Muslim woman from Passaic County who was on her way to do laundry last weekend in Little Falls when a male motorist stuck in traffic started screaming anti-Muslim slurs at her.
"We believe this incident may have been precipitated by the alleged Fort Dix plot," said Afsheen Shamsi, a spokeswoman for the group. "We hope our fellow citizens won't equate Islam with terrorism based on the actions of the defendants."
She also called on federal authorities to open a civil rights investigation of the incident.
At the Islamic Center, the 65-year-old Badat considers his life as a Muslim far removed from the extremism that some of the members of his mosque have been accused of.
"We all know that Islam means peace," Badat said.
Associated Press writers Wayne Parry in Atlantic City and Chris Newmarker in Trenton contributed to this report.
PALMYRA — In an attempt to quell suspicion surrounding their religious teachings and connection to the alleged Fort Dix terrorists, members of the Islamic Center of South Jersey opened their doors to the public for an emergency town hall meeting last night.
"I want to make it clear we don't condone any acts of violence," Ismail Badat, a trustee at the center on Garfield Avenue, told the standing-room only crowd gathered for the meeting.
"We, the Islamic Center of South Jersey of Palmyra and the members of the Muslim American Community Association of Voorhees, condemn in the strongest of terms the alleged plot that was to be carried out at Fort Dix," he said.
The mosque was thrust into the spotlight last week after it was learned that four of the six men charged with conspiring to attack and kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix worshipped at the center.
Suspects Dritan "Anthony" Duka, 28, and his brothers, Shain, 26, and Eljvir, 23, and Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, 22, all had worshipped at the mosque but were not considered to be members.
"Let me make it clear we do not condone any acts of violence," Badat said. "Some of the people who are incarcerated for this alleged plot used to pray here... They used to pray here — nothing else."
Rafey Habib, also a trustee at the center, said the focus of the meeting was to explain the basic principles of Islam, its relation to Judaism and Christianity, Islam in America and what is taught at the center.
"There is nothing in Islam which condones terrorism," Habib said.
He said the concept of jihad means to strive and struggle to be a better person.
"The greatest struggle is against oneself — to be a good person," Habib said. "The taking of innocent life for political reasons does not constitute jihad."
Several local, state and federal legislators and officials were on hand for the meeting.
Congressman Rob Andrews, D-1st of Haddon Heights, said he was proud this sort of discourse could happen in Palmyra.
"There are so many places in our world we could not have a gathering like this," Andrews said. "I'm proud to be here. I'm proud this facility is in our community."
State Assemblyman Jack Conners, D-7th of Pennsauken, said he'd like to see more of these types of meetings.
"I want to see more of this. I want to see more of this across the state. I want to see more of this across the country," Conners said. "I think it's important as we go forward in America that we must get along."
Mayor John Gural said he doesn't have any Muslim friends, but was happy to be given a chance to visit the mosque.
He also said that just because the alleged plotters prayed at the mosque doesn't mean the members had any other association with the suspects.
Palmyra resident Ron Blackeby said the leaders of the mosque answered any concerns he may have had about the center.
"They answered my question...," Blackeby said of the condemnation of terrorism.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Mosque opens its doors in bid for understanding
By LAVINIA DECASTRO
The mosque where half the men accused of plotting an attack on Fort Dix worshipped opened its doors to the public on Friday in an effort to foster greater understanding of Islam and its teachings.
A standing-room-only crowd was at the Islamic Center of South Jersey's emergency town hall meeting meant to reassure the people the center's teachings didn't play a role in the alleged terrorist plot.
"We are here so we can provide information about Islam, about Muslims and about us," said Rafey Habib, a trustee at the center and a literature professor at Rutgers University.
Six people -- Mohamed Shnewer of Pennsauken; Agron Abdullahu of Buena Vista Township; Serdar Tatar of Cherry Hill; and brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka, all of Cherry Hill -- have been charged and are being held by federal authorities in connection with the plot. The Duka brothers all worshipped at the Palmyra mosque.
Habib was among the many speakers, including elected officials and law enforcement personnel, who addressed the public at the three-hour event.
"I'm very proud to be here and I'm very proud that this center is in our community," said U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-Haddon Heights. "We're here tonight because this is a place where peace is taught. We are united by a common desire that the peaceful practices that we heard tonight be truly a practice, not just an aspiration."
Center officials talked about the basic principles of Islam, South Jersey's Muslim community and the mosque itself, which has more than 100 members and has operated for 16 years out of a stone building that was once a church.
"There is nothing in Islam which condones terrorism," said Nassem Badat, the center's spokeswoman. "We want to achieve mutual understanding between the faiths. We are Muslim, but we are American."
Afsheen Shamshi of the New Jersey Council on American-Islamic Relations, said last week's arrest of six area men authorities described as "radical Islamists" led to a surge in instances of discrimination and harassment of Muslims, especially women.
A Passaic County woman was allegedly harassed on the street and a man was charged Tuesday with punching a Muslim woman in the face in Fairfield.
"I'm telling you about these stories because I want you to understand the fear that we live with every day," Shamshi said. Donald Simpson of Moorestown said he was there to learn.
"I know very little about the Quran and I know very little about Muslims," Simpsons said. "This is first chance I've had to learn."
PALMYRA, New Jersey: Feeling besieged by suspicion and hostility since three of its members were named in a plot to attack Fort Dix, a southern New Jersey mosque is throwing its doors open to the public on Friday, inviting U.S. congressmen, the FBI — anyone who wants to learn more about Islam.
The Islamic Center of South Jersey will hold what it calls an "emergency town hall meeting" Friday night to respond to negative publicity since the arrest of six Muslim men charged with plotting to kill soldiers at the military installation.
Dritan "Anthony" Duka, 28, and his brothers Shain, 26, and Eljvir, 23, all worshipped regularly at the mosque, according to Ismail Badat, a trustee at the Islamic Center. Another suspect, 22-year-old Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, prayed there a few times, Badat said.
The situation has been a source of worry for Muslims who attend the mosque, located in a former church building in this blue-collar Delaware River town.
"It has been very difficult," said Naseem Badat, Ismail Badat's wife. "I go online and read all the blogs, and very few of them have anything positive to say about us. Almost everything is very negative. They are saying some really nasty things about us."
The father of another suspect, 23-year-old Serdar Tatar, also reported an anti-Muslim backlash since the arrests. Muslim Tatar, who owns a pizzeria near Fort Dix, said he's received death threats and said media reports about his son's arrest has hurt his business.
The six suspects, all born outside the United States, are being held without bail. They arrested May 7 during what the FBI said was an attempt to buy AK-47 machine guns, M-16s and other weapons. They targeted Fort Dix, a post 25 miles east of Philadelphia that is used primarily to train reservists, intending to kill "as many American soldiers as possible," according to court documents.
The Palmyra mosque is looking to calm its neighbors with the Friday meeting. It has two main goals: to enable officials and members of the public to ask anything they want about the mosque or about Islam, and to publicize a ringing denunciation of terrorism and violence of any sort, Ismail Badat said.
Badat said he hopes "to clarify for our American friends and neighbors the fundamental beliefs, teachings and practices of Islam, and to make it clear that Muslims here — who are also Americans — do not in any way sanction the forms of violent and offensive behavior which have recently attained prominence in the media.
"We hope to facilitate a clearer mutual understanding and to seek ways in which the Muslim community can contribute productively to the greater American community," he said.
The 65-year-old Badat is a Zambian native who spent many years living in the United Kingdom. A few days after the arrests, he spoke of bringing more people into the mosque, with its white walls and pink-colored carpets, to help them see that Islam is a religion that upholds peace.
The town-meeting strategy has been used often and with success by other mosques in New Jersey and around the U.S. since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. One northern New Jersey mosque went as far as hold a job fair where the FBI and other law enforcement agencies came to recruit young Muslim and Arab men, several of whom have since began law enforcement careers.
A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Robert Andrews confirmed the congressman planned to attend the Friday's meeting in Palmyra. Palmyra Police Chief Richard K. Dreby also was invited, but said previous out-of-town plans would prevent him from attending.
Naseem Badat said she hopes the meeting can cut through what she acknowledges is heavy skepticism on both sides.
"The people who are saying these things about Islam and about us are talking out of fear, and they are skeptical about us," she said. "But they shouldn't be. We are part of America, too. We are not your enemy."
At the same time, among the mosque's congregation, there is doubt about whether Friday's meeting is such a great idea, she acknowledged.
"People are skeptical about whether something good can transpire," she said. "But we want to make something positive out of a negative situation."