Mosques of New Jersey – a Case of Short Memory Syndrome
by PATRICK DUNLEAVY
February 29, 2012
In the latest outcry against the NYPD’s successful Counter Terrorism strategies, caused in part by an article from the Associated Press’s Washington-based Investigative team,Islamic and civil libertarian groups such as the ACLU and CAIR are once again calling for the resignation of Commissioner Ray Kelly and a federal investigation of the police department for alleged spying on the Muslim community in the Greater New York area.
At the center of the accusations is the release of an NYPD document that details in part intelligence gathering on Mosques in the state of New Jersey. Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker voiced outrage telling the press that the city was never notified of the NYPD conducting a surveillance operation in their city. However the evidence shows that the NYPD did notify New Jersey law enforcement officials and that police officers from the Garden State acted as liaisons between the New York Police and Newark PD.
Questions on the issue of jurisdiction were also raised asking, “What gives NYPD the right to go outside the city limits to conduct investigations?”
At first glance the average reader might think that this is a clear case of government abuse of power and of law enforcement collecting information on innocent citizens in violation of constitutional rights. Those that do so suffer from a case of short memory syndrome. Looking back over the history of Islamic terrorist activity in New York prior to 9/11 is a sure cure for the malady.
In 1990 a little known Egyptian immigrant committed a homicide in Manhattan. What was once looked at as just a single act of violence by a lone individual in a crime ridden city has now come to be known as the vanguard attack of the jihadists on the United States. The victim of the killing was Rabbi Meir Khane, an outspoken Jewish activist, and founder of the Jewish Defense League, with a reputation for making inflammatory speeches. The shooter was El Sayyid Nosair. The investigation into the murder revealed that Nosair was a member of Al Gama’a al Islamiyya, an Islamic terrorist organization whose spiritual leader was Omar Abdel Rahman, the Blind Sheik. Nosair prior to the shooting had participated in raising money for an organization known as Maktab al Khadamat. That organization was founded by Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden in Pakistan as a means of providing financial support for the mujahadeen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980’s.
The headquarters for the organization in the United States was run out of a mosque, Al Farouq, in Brooklyn. But funds were also supplied from several mosques in New Jersey which both Nosair and the Blind Sheik had visited and with whom they maintained ties.
In February of 1993 a truck loaded with explosives was detonated in the World Trade Center by radical islamists. The jihad had now moved from a single killing to an attack on innocent civilians and a landmark structure in the United States.
In the investigation that followed conducted by Federal, State, and City law enforcement, names, locations, and the activities of the conspirators were outlined in the successful prosecution by the US Attorney’s Office. Once again El Sayyid Nosair was involved in the jihad. From his cell in Attica state prison he was able to contact individuals in New Jersey and who were constructing the truck bomb. Among the other perpetrators led by Ramzi Yousef, were individuals such as Ibrahim al Gabrowny, Nosair’s cousin, and Mohammed Salameh. Both lived and attended mosques in New Jersey.
The connection between the mosques in the New York City area and Jersey mosques was provided by non other than Sirhaj Wahhaj, the Imam of Al Taqwa Mosque in Brooklyn, NY. Wahhaj was an unindicted co-conspirator in the case who was called to testify during the first World Trade Center trial. In his testimony he talked of an incident at the El Salaam Mosque in New Jersey involving Sheik Abdel Rahman and his followers.
Wahhaj stated he had just left another Islamic Center in New Jersey, when he “just happened to drive by” the mosque where several of the individuals convicted in the first World Trade Center Bombing were attending. Wahhaj admitted that he knew Sheik Abdel Rahman as well as the others in the Jersey mosque. The same violent rhetoric calling for jihad was preached in every mosque the Blind Sheik and his followers went to in the United States, including the ones in New Jersey.
Court records clearly revealed that the terrorists who planned the attack in New York City lived and were attending mosques in New Jersey. Inmate visitor and phone records of El Sayyid Nosair clearly showed communication with individuals from New Jersey who were attending mosques in New Jersey. If that wasn’t enough, the very truck that was loaded with explosives was rented in New Jersey.
So the question is, should NYPD wait until the terrorists bent on attacking the city cross over the George Washington Bridge before they start to investigate or gather intelligence?
That would be ridiculous. The philosophy that drives Commissioner Kelly and the NYPD to station Detectives overseas to glean real time live information of terrorist attacks or to follow any lead anywhere in protecting the city is rock solid and founded not on abusing civil liberties, but protecting them.
Investigative journalism is necessary for a strong vibrant free press. But a lopsided story that fails to look at the history of radical terrorists in New Jersey’s Islamic Centers is myopic and does not give an accurate view of the facts.
Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections. He is the author of "The Fertile Soil of Jihad: Terrorism's Prison Connection," details of which can be found at his website, and he can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr Dunleavy is currently a consultant for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He teaches a class on terrorism for the United States Military Special Operations School, "Dynamics of International Terrorism" and has testified as an expert witness before the House Committee on Homeland Security regarding the threat of Islamic Radicalization in the U.S. Prison System.