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North Carolina Tar Heel Terror by Joe Kaufman

March 7, 2006

North Carolina Tar Heel Terror

By Joe Kaufman

Saturday night, the University of North Carolina (UNC) was abuzz with joy, as its Tar Heels men's basketball team defeated its arch-rival and number one ranked Duke. But this huge win was only a temporary mask to shield an event which happened just a day earlier. On Friday, Iranian-born Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, a 22 year-old UNC graduate, tore through a lunchtime crowd at one of the university's popular gathering spots with a Jeep Grand Cherokee, hitting nine people, of which six were hospitalized with injuries.

Taheri-azar was arrested and charged with nine counts each of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon. According to Derech Poarch, the chief of the university police department, the attacker told investigators that he wanted to "avenge the deaths or murders of Muslims around the world." Upon entering his apartment, a paperback copy of the Quran was found in Taheri-azar's room, along with a book calling for the United States to "confront state sponsors of terrorism." He was shown, on news video footage, handcuffed and being led into a car sporting a giant grin.

At the court hearing on Monday, that same smile was ingrained on his face. Like Zacarias Moussaoui, whose trial coincided with Taheri-azar's hearing, Taheri-azar stated that he wanted to represent himself. And like Moussaoui, who proudly proclaimed, "I'm Al-Qaeda," Taheri-azar used the courtroom forum to voice his Islamist ideology. Clad in orange jumpsuit and leg shackles, he stated, "I am thankful you are going to hear this trial to learn more about the will of Allah, the creator." And in response to a reporter's question, he confirmed that, "Yes," it was his intention to murder those he hit with the SUV he had just rented. In the 9-1-1 call he had made after the attack, he told the operator that he did this "to punish the government of the United States."

The question of whether or not he was acting alone has been raised. To this effect, eyes have been focused on the university's Muslim Students Association (MSA), which was recently involved in a protest of the UNC campus newspaper's publishing of a Mohammed cartoon. After the incident, the MSA quickly issued a press release distancing itself from Taheri-azar and condemning what it called a "hit and run incident." Later, MSA's President, Uzma Khan, declined to comment.

In the release, the MSA admitted that Taheri-azar had made a "few appearances" with its group but said that he was not a member. As such, the MSA likened him to "one disturbed individual from the beliefs of the Muslim community as a whole." However, present affiliations and recent events held by the MSA lead one to think otherwise – that the MSA did in fact have something to with the actions of Taheri-azar. Whatever the case, the group has much to answer for, itself!

According to the MSA press release, the appearances Taheri-azar made with the group were done in an on-campus "prayer room," reserved by the MSA. Yet, this bit of information is contradicted on the group's website. Under the heading ‘Quick Facts [FAQ],' there is contained a link to the question, "Where is the prayer room located?" The link doesn't lead one to information about an on-campus entity, but instead, it takes one to the homepage of the Islamic Center of Raleigh, also known as the Islamic Association of Raleigh or IAR.

IAR was established in 1985 by members of the MSA and the Islamic Association of North Carolina (IANC), with seed money from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. That same year, upon invitation by the MSA of N.C. State (where Sami Al-Arian was at the time), Mohammed Bajanonie, a Syrian-born teacher, became IAR's "full time" imam, as he still is today.

Numerous speeches made by Bajanonie are found on IAR's website. Included in these speeches are his views about Jews, Christians, and jihad. He states the following:

While the North Carolina MSA's association with IAR is troubling, the problem with the group goes much further.

On October 12, 2005, the MSA brought Radwan Masmoudi, the founder and President of the Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID), to the UNC campus. The event was titled, ‘The Future of Democracy in the Muslim World.' The CSID was created by leaders from the American Muslim Council (AMC), a group that has publicly pledged its support for Hamas and Hezbollah. It was under Masmoudi's leadership that Kamran Bokhari, the U.S. representative for Al-Muhajaroun, was made a fellow at CSID.

Towards the end of last month, from February 23rd through the 24th, the MSA held its ‘Special Friday Youth Session' and ‘Saturday Marriage Session.' These events featured two of the most radical Islamic speakers in the United States.

Featured in the first event was Mohamed Rida Beshir. Beshir is an advisor for Islam Online, a website that showcases live interviews with leaders of Hamas. He has held various positions with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim American Society (MAS), two groups connected to the violent Muslim Brotherhood. He is a member of the editorial board and a contributing writer for MAS's magazine, The American Muslim, which has, in the past, called suicide bombings against Israelis "justifiable."

Beshir has also written for ISNA's bi-monthly publication, Islamic Horizons. In a piece he co-wrote for Horizons, entitled ‘Shielding Young Minds,' he elaborates on "Prophet" Mohammed's statement about how "children are born pure (Muslim) and that their parents make them Jews, Christians, or Magians (fire worshippers)." Beshir, as well, has authored articles for The Message International, a publication put out by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a group that has ties to Pakistan's version of the Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat-e-Islami.

Featured in the second event was Amir Abdul Malik Ali. The following are quotes attributed to him (as compiled by Discover the Network):

On February 16th, the MSA, in coordination with UNC faculty and Campus Y, a left wing group that features anti-Israel speakers, hosted a vigil and educational dialogue event on university grounds. According to the MSA, the affair was held to shed light on Islam's "Prophet" Mohammed and the controversy surrounding the Danish cartoons depicting him.

If this event was the incident that drove Taheri-azar to act as he did, then the MSA deserves to shoulder some of the blame for the outcome. Indeed, a number of the group's activities could easily put any would-be Jihadi over the top. But instead of acknowledging some wrongdoing, the MSA chose to take the coward's way out and dissociate itself from the attacker and, in the process, disrepute him as a lunatic.

The vigil and dialogue event put on by the MSA was entitled ‘Extinguishing Ignorance with Knowledge.' How appropriate that the MSA pled "ignorance," while their fellow Tar Heel, Taheri-azar, intended to "extinguish" the lives of others… all in the name of Islam.

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