The Islamic Center of Raleigh, N.C., is on the spot now that seven Tarheel Muslims, led by an American convert to Islam, have been arrested and charged with “conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad.”
Several of the accused were members of the Islamic Center. A local Muslim who knew several of the suspects charges that he heard two of them, Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan and Ziyad Yaghi, speaking favorably of suicide bombings — and was “not surprised they were arrested.” He has said that he reported them to the Center leaders but that the leaders did nothing.
However, Imran Aukhil of the Islamic Center says that the mosque leadership actually did go to the FBI: “The IAR,” he explained, “does have an open relationship with the FBI,” and added vaguely: “We were notified of a person’s behavior, violent threatening action that we considered to be dangerous and we did report them to the FBI.” He emphasized the IAR’s policy of cooperation with the FBI: “We make sure that we are in constant communication with them. We answer any questions that they have as necessary. We provide them with any information they request.”
Reflecting on the arrests, Aukhil saw in them an opportunity: “It definitely makes things difficult, but we look at the bright side. It gives us an opportunity to speak up more with the media and bring more attention to Muslims and their struggles as a minority.” In other words, Aukhil sees in the arrests of Boyd and his henchmen a new opportunity to claim victim status for Muslims in the United States — even as a plot by Muslims in his community to kill non-Muslims has been uncovered. Now that’s chutzpah, but of course with the mainstream media focus on “backlash” against the Muslim community after every arrest of Islamic jihad plotters since September 11, Aukhil is hardly a trail blazer.
But Aukhil’s seizure on these arrests to claim Muslim victimization was just the beginning. He said nothing about how an American convert to Islam, Daniel “Saifullah” Boyd, and his companions (who included his two adult sons) got the idea that supporting jihadists and participating in terrorist training was a religious obligation. But that is the question that must ultimately be answered, and policy formulated accordingly, if homegrown jihad activity of this type is to be prevented in the future.
This particular plot was a long time in forming. Boyd traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1989 and attended jihad training camps, fighting alongside jihadists in Afghanistan. Much later, in 2006, Boyd visited another jihadist hotspot, Gaza, along with one of his sons, in order to (according to the indictment) introduce the young man to “individuals who also believed that violent jihad was a personal religious obligation.” Then a year later, Boyd went to Israel “in an effort to engage in violent jihad, but ultimately returned to the United States after failing in their efforts.”
How did a North Carolinian who converted to Islam get the idea that “violent jihad was a personal religious obligation” in the first place — and that he had to travel to places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Gaza and Israel in order to fulfill that obligation? What was taught to Daniel “Saifullah” Boyd in the Islamic Center of Raleigh that led him to embark upon a path of betrayal of his homeland and people? What is Imran Aukhil doing now in the Islamic Center of Raleigh to make sure that no future converts to Islam get the same ideas about jihad that Boyd picked up? Is anyone in law enforcement asking that question, and getting answers?
Law enforcement officials have shown little public interest in the question of exactly how converts to Islam and other Muslims in the U.S. come to believe that violence and hate are integral requirements of their religious observance. And they show little interest in calling people like Imran Aukhil to a more honest and thoroughgoing confrontation of the jihad doctrine and Islamic supremacism.
That passivity only ensures that Daniel “Saifullah” Boyd is not the last jihad plotter we will see on American soil; there will be many, many more to come.
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