Mosques have been used extensively by al-Qaeda operatives and other Islamic terrorists to recruit, finance operations and train zealots to commit attacks—a fact often ignored by advocates of building a huge Muslim religious center in the shadow of Ground Zero in New York.
The documented involvement of mosques in terror helps explain why so many Americans, over 60% in most polls, opposed putting a $100 million mosque and Islamic center on the hallowed ground where nearly 3,000 innocent people were murdered by al Qaeda.
“Americans are often appalled by the intolerance, anti-Semitism, and anti-American arguments taught in schools and preached in mosques,” stated the 2004 landmark 9/11 commission report.
One of the most famous examples of a mosque-as-terror center is the al Quds in Hamburg, Germany. It was in that mosque that leaders of the September 11 attacks, including Mohammed Atta, met, were radicalized and put in touch with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
Earlier this month, the German government shut down the mosque.
“We have closed the mosque because it was a recruiting and meeting point for Islamic radicals who wanted to participate in so-called jihad or holy war,” said Frank Reschreiter, a spokesman for the Hamburg state interior ministry.
Then there is Brooklyn’s Farouq mosque, a hotbed for terrorists, such as the notorious blind Sheikh Omar Abel Rahman.
Ali Mohammed, a former Egyptian army officer who moved to the U.S., used the mosque to train extremists. Some were convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Others participated in the 1998 African embassy bombings.
And there is the story of American-born Imam Anwar Awlaki. He preached at the Rabat mosque in San Diego and met some of the 9/11 conspirators. Some moved to Northern Virginia at the same time Awlaki did.
At the Dar al Hijra mosque, Awlaki preached to Maj. Nidal Malick Hasan, who later carried out the Fort Hood massacre. Awlaki now practices his violent form of Islam in Yemen, urging followers to murder Americans. He is on the U.S. kill-or-capture list.
“Around the world, mosques have been disproportionately used as venues for terrorists to raise funds, plot operations, recruit new terrorists and radicalize young Muslims,” Steve Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, told HUMAN EVENTS. “Not all mosques fit this category but in contrast to synagogues and churches, mosques have been traditional centers of religious gravity in Muslim communities more than their religious counterparts. In the Middle East for example, mosques in the Gaza Strip have served as repositories of weapons and havens for terrorists. In Europe, several of the 9-11 hijackers were recruited in mosques for jihad. And in the United States, scores of mosques have been implicated in many of the terrorist plots since 9/11.”
In Pakistan’s vast tribal region on the Afghanistan border, al Qaeda, the Taliban and other Islamic terrorists extensively use mosques as safe havens and headquarters in an alliance with radical imams.
A well-placed military source told HUMAN EVENTS: “The mosque is a meeting house where prayers and preaching are conducted. It is also where you might find a farmers market, education center or health clinic. It’s also where combat operations against the infidel are planned. It is a weapons transshipment point. All of those things. Think of the grange our farmers have in the Midwest. Well, there’s your mosque.”
In London, convicted airliner bomber Richard Reid was radicalized at the Finsbury Park Mosque headed by anti-Western cleric Abu Hamza al Masri. Reid joined al Qaeda, which dispatched him on a U.S.-bound plane with explosive shoes. Fortunately, an alert flight crew spotted him trying to ignite the bomb and subdued him.
In France, authorities routinely bug mosques to learn of any planned attacks. In this country, the FBI monitors certain mosques to track suspected terrorists.
One of the most extensive government assessments of the role of mosques in this age of sacred terror is the 9/11 commission report. The bipartisan project led to a robust and expensive campaign by Congress and the George W. Bush Administration to protect the homeland and battle al Qaeda overseas.
Here are some excerpts:
• “Mosques, schools, and boardinghouses served as recruiting stations in many parts of the world, including the United States. Some were set up by Islamic extremists or their financial backers. Bin Ladin had an important part in this activity. He and the cleric Azzam had joined in creating a ‘Bureau of Services’ (Mektab al Khidmat, or MAK), which channeled recruits into Afghanistan.”
• “A Muslim organization called al Khifa had numerous branch offices, the largest of which was in the Farouq mosque in Brooklyn. In the mid-1980s, it had been set up as one of the first outposts of Azzam and bin Ladin’s MAK. Other cities with branches of al Khifa included Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Tucson. Al Khifa recruited American Muslims to fight in Afghanistan; some of them would participate in terrorist actions in the United States in the early 1990s and in al Qaeda operations elsewhere, including the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa.
September 11 Attacks
• “According to [Ramzi] Binalshibh, he and Atta first met at a mosque in Hamburg in 1995.The two men became close friends and became identified with their shared extremist outlook…. The worshippers at this mosque featured an outspoken, flamboyant Islamist named Mohammed Haydar Zammar. A well-known figure in the Muslim community, Zammar reportedly took credit for influencing not just Binalshibh but the rest of the Hamburg group. In 1998, Zammar encouraged them to participate in jihad and even convinced them to go to Afghanistan.”
• “Zakariya Essabar, a Moroccan citizen, moved to Germany in February 1997 and to Hamburg in 1998, where he studied medical technology. Soon after moving to Hamburg, Essabar met Binalshibh and the others through a Turkish mosque. Essabar turned extremist fairly suddenly, probably in 1999, and reportedly pressured one acquaintance with physical force to become more religious.”
• “Al Qaeda appears to have relied on a core group of financial facilitators who raised money from a variety of donors and other fund-raisers, primarily in the Gulf countries and particularly in Saudi Arabia. Some individual donors surely knew, and others did not, the ultimate destination of their donations. Al Qaeda and its friends took advantage of Islam’s strong calls for charitable giving, zakat. These financial facilitators also appeared to rely heavily on certain imams at mosques who were willing to divert zakat donations to al Qaeda’s cause.”
• “[Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 9-11 mastermind] says that though he told others involved in the conspiracy to stay away from mosques and to avoid establishing personal contacts, he made an exception in this case and instructed Hazmi and Mihdhar to pose as newly arrived Saudi students and seek assistance at local mosques. [Nawaf Hazmi and Khalid Mihdhar met conspirators in the King Fahd mosque in Los Angeles.]”
• “According to the head of one of the training camps in Afghanistan, some were chosen by unnamed Saudi sheikhs who had contacts with al Qaeda. [Abdulaziz] Omari, for example, is believed to have been a student of a radical Saudi cleric named Sulayman al Alwan. His mosque, which is located in al Qassim Province, is known among more moderate clerics as a “terrorist factory.”