“I reported Omar Mateen to the FBI. Trump is wrong that Muslims don’t do our part.”

Non-Muslim members of the community watch a special prayer at the American Muslim Community Center Monday, June 13, 2016, in Longwood, Fla., after the mass-shooting at the Pulse Orlando nightclub.

Donald Trump believes American Muslims are hiding something.

“They know what’s going on. They know that [Omar Mateen] was bad,” he said after the Orlando massacre. “They have to cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad. … But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death and destruction.”

This is a common idea in the United States. It’s also a lie. First, Muslims like me can’t see into the hearts of other worshipers. (Do you know the hidden depths of everyone in yourcommunity?) Second, he’s also wrong that we don’t speak up when we’re able.

I know this firsthand: I was the one who told the FBI about Omar Mateen.

I met Omar for the first time in 2006 at an iftar meal at my brother-in-law’s house. As the women, including his mother and sisters, chatted in the living room, I sat with the men on the patio and got to know him and his father. Omar broke his Ramadan fast with a protein shake. He was quiet — then and always — and let his dad do the talking.

[Rep. Jim Himes: Why I walked out of the House’s moment of silence for Orlando.]

I’d seen them before at the oldest mosque in the area, the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce. We have a lot of immigrants in our community. They grew up in other countries, often with different sensibilities. A few don’t understand American culture, and they struggle to connect with their American-born or American-raised kids.

I came here from Pakistan in 1979 when I was 6 years old, grew up in Queens (like Omar) and Fort Lauderdale, went through the American education system, and assimilated well. So I was able to make better inroads with young people in our community, including that introverted teenager I met at the iftar. I tried to stay in touch with the younger generation, acting as a mentor when I could.

I saw Omar from time to time over the next decade, and we developed a relationship because most of the other Muslim kids in his age group went elsewhere for college, and he stayed behind. We mostly spoke over the phone or texted with one another a half-dozen times per year. We talked about the lack of social programs at the mosque, especially for teens and young adults like him. I often played pranks on him. Once, around 2009, I attached LED lights to the tires of his car, so when he drove the wheels glowed neon. He laughed when he figured it out a few days later.

Soon after Omar married and moved to his own home, he began to come to the mosque more often. Then he went on a religious trip to Saudi Arabia. There was nothing to indicate that he had a dark side, even when he and his first wife divorced.

But as news reports this week have made clear, Omar did have a dark outlook on life. Partly, he was upset at what he saw as racism in the United States – against Muslims and others. When he worked as a security guard at the St. Lucie County Courthouse, he told me visitors often made nasty or bigoted remarks to him about Islam. He overheard people saying ugly things about African Americans, too. Since Sept. 11, I’ve thought the only way to answer Islamophobia was to be polite and kind; the best way to counter all the negativity people were seeing on TV about Islam was by showing them the opposite. I urged Omar to volunteer and help people in need – Muslim or otherwise (charity is a pillar of Islam). He agreed, but was always very worked up about this injustice.

[Trump’s new favorite slogan was invented for Nazi sympathizers.]

Then, during the summer of 2014, something traumatic happened for our community. A boy from our local mosque, Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, was 22 when he became the first American-born suicide bomber, driving a truck full of explosives into a government office in Syria. He’d traveled there and joined a group affiliated with al-Qaeda, the previous year. We had all known Moner; he was jovial and easygoing, the opposite of Omar. According to a posthumous video released that summer, he had clearly self-radicalized – and had also done so by listening to the lectures of Anwar al-Awlaki, the charismatic Yemen-based imam who helped radicalize several Muslims, including the Fort Hood shooter. Everyone in the area was shocked and upset. We hate violence and were horrified that one of our number could have killed so many. (After an earlier training mission to Syria, he’d tried to recruit a few Florida friends to the cause. They told the FBI about him.)

Immediately after Moner’s attack, news reports said that American officials didn’t know anything about him; I read that they were looking for people to give them some background. So I called the FBI and offered to tell investigators a bit about the young man. It wasn’t much – we hadn’t been close – but I’m an American Muslim, and I wanted to do my part. I didn’t want another act like that to happen. I didn’t want more innocent people to die. Agents asked me if there were any other local kids who might resort to violence in the name of Islam. No names sprang to mind.

After my talk with the FBI, I spoke to people in the Islamic community, including Omar, abut Moner’s attack. I wondered how he could have radicalized. Both Omar and I attended the same mosque as Moner, and the imam never taught hate or radicalism. That’s when Omar told me he had been watching videos of Awlaki, too, which immediately raised red flags for me. He told me the videos were very powerful.

After speaking with Omar, I contacted the FBI again to let them know that Omar had been watching Awlaki’s tapes. He hadn’t committed any acts of violence and wasn’t planning any, as far as I knew. And I thought he probably wouldn’t, because he didn’t fit the profile: He already had a second wife and a son. But it was something agents should keep their eyes on. I never heard from them about Omar again, but apparently they did their job: They looked into him and, finding nothing to go on, they closed the file.

[Glenn Greenwald: The FBI was right not to arrest Omar Mateen before the shooting.]

Omar and I continued to have infrequent conversations over the next few years. I last saw him at a dinner at his father’s house in January. We talked about the presidential election and debated our views of the candidates that were running – he liked Hillary Clinton and I liked Bernie Sanders. This banter continued through texts and phone calls for several months. My last conversation with Omar was by phone in mid-May. He called me while he was at the beach with his son to tell me about a vacation he’d taken with his father to Orlando the previous weekend. He’d been impressed by the local mosque.

What happened next is well-known. We’re still in shock. We’re totally against what he did, and we feel the deepest sadness for the victims and their families. If you don’t agree with someone, you don’t have the right to kill them. We are taught to be kind to all of God’s creation. Islam is very strict about killing: Even in war – to say nothing of peace – you cannot harm women, children, the elderly, the sick, clergymen, or even plants. You can’t mutilate dead bodies. You can’t destroy buildings, especially churches or temples. You can’t force anyone to accept Islam. “If anyone slew one person, it would be as if he killed the whole of humanity,” says the Koran.

I had told the FBI about Omar because my community, and Muslims generally, have nothing to hide. I love this country, like most Muslims that I know. I don’t agree with every government policy (I think there’s too much money in politics, for instance), but I’m proud to be an American. I vote. I volunteer. I teach my children to treat all people kindly. Our families came here because it is full of opportunity – a place where getting a job is about what you know, not who you know. It’s a better country to raise children than someplace where the electricity is out for 18 hours a day, where politicians are totally corrupt, or where the leader is a dictator.

But there’s so much suspicion of Islam here. The local paper published an unsigned editorial called “Leave our peaceful Muslim neighbors alone,” and the comments were full of hateful lies – that the Boston bombers had visited the area, that the Sept. 11 bombers came from here, that we were a hotbed of violent ideology. None of this is true. Donald Trump didn’t create these attitudes, but he plays on them and amplifies them.

I am not the first American Muslim to report on someone; people who do that simply don’t like to announce themselves in to the media. For my part, I’m not looking for personal accolades. I’m just tired of negative rhetoric and ignorant comments about my faith. Trump’s assertions about our community – that we have the ability to help our country but have simply declined to do so – are tragic, ugly and wrong.

[Editor’s note: A federal law enforcement official confirmed the author’s cooperation to The Washington Post.]

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Crackdown on Radical Muslim Cleric

The RCMP’s senior counterterrorism officer has singled out radical preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki as a common thread among young Canadian extremists. Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud said Awlaki, a Yemeni-American terrorist leader, had been popping up during investigations of “the individuals that are of concern to us.”

The RCMP has been investigating radicalized Canadians who have travelled to such countries as Somalia and Pakistan for terrorist training. The move followed similar measures enacted by the United States and the United Nations Security Council, which placed Awlaki on its list of individuals associated with al-Qaeda. From members of the Toronto 18 to the Somali-Canadians in Al-Shabab, many of those involved in terrorist groups share a fascination with Awlaki, who has been in hiding somewhere in Yemen since 2007.

US authorizes the killing of an American radical Muslim cleric

The Obama Administration has authorized the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki is an American Muslim who is believed to be living in Yemen encouraging and recruiting for attacks against the US. Al-Awlaki has been linked to the 9/11 hijackers as well as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who unsuccessfully tried to explode himself in a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day. Al-Awlaki has been also linked by US intelligence to Major Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people last November at Fort Hood. He is now added to the CIA target list

An American calls to “Jihad”

CNN has broadcasted a new audio made by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric with links to several terrorist plots. In the audio, a voice similar to Mr. Awlaki’s says: “with the American invasion of Iraq and continued U.S. aggression against Muslims, I could not reconcile between living in the U.S. and being a Muslim, and I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself just as it is binding on every other Muslim.” Mr. Awlaki, born in New Mexico, left the US to live and work in Yemen in 2002.

Abdulmutallab met with Anwar al-Awlaki after finishing Arabic language course

While some say his views on Islam were considered to be within the mainstream, Abdulmutallab has also been described by some friends and acquaintances as being opaque and unknowable.

Experts have uncovered puzzling character traits and interests as their investigation of how and when he was radicalized moves forward. They have also discovered an interesting path of world travel, and now know that he pursued relationships with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and al-Qaida operatives, from the time he was in London until he boarded the flight to Detroit strapped with explosives.

UK Muslim TV channel linked to al-Qaida cleric al-Awlaki

Islam Channel, a London-based satellite broadcaster, has been accused with providing a platform for Anwar al-Awlaki, an extremist cleric with ties to al-Qaida, Major Hasan of the Fort Hood shooting, and Abdulmutallab, who recently tried to blow up a plane on a flight to Detroit. Islam Channel is said to have advertised a box set of DVDs of Awlaki’s sermons and events at which he was supposed to speak. Furthermore, the channel’s website facilitates download of other Awlaki sermons, such as “Stop Police Terror”, “Brutality Towards Muslims” and “It’s a War against Islam”.

Islam Channel is the largest Islamic program airing in the UK, claiming to be “the voice of authority for Muslims in the UK”. The channel denies having given a platform to Awlaki and removed the links on the website. Many Muslim scholars have expressed concern, such as Dr. Irfan al-Alawi of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism, who fears that young people might get radicalized or Maajid Nawaz, a former presenter on the Islam Channel who is now director of the counter-extremism thinktank Quilliam and who attributes the channel to have a large influence, and with that, responsibility.

Abdulmutallab may have met with al-Awlaki, radical American-Yemeni cleric implicated in Hasan case

In the weeks leading up to the Christmas Day attack, Yemen has stated in its fullest disclosure of contact between al-Qaida and Abdulmutallab that he trained with al-Qaida operatives in lawless mountainous regions, and may have met with Anwar al-Awlaki, radical American-Yemeni cleric associated with Major Hasan.

The government also claims he received the explosives for the attack in Nigeria.

Anwar al-Awlaki may face charges, Yemen runs educational counter-radicalization program

Yemeni cleric who allegedly was in contact with Major Hasan and Abdulmutallab has been targeted for arrest.

The cleric has had little trouble from law enforcement until now, despite his support of al-Qaida and attempts to spread the ideology in the Muslim world. Authorities’ failure to react to him and other Islamist radicals in Yemen highlight the conflicts of political Islam amongst Yemeni’s ruling class.

But the scrutiny of Yemen’s neglect of al-Awlaki ignores their counter-radicalization efforts which include a terrorist re-education program where clerics attempt to persuade jailed militants that Islam is not a violent ideology or religion. Hamoud Hitar, Islamic scholar, is leading the program. Until 2006, none of Yemen’s 420 radical militant prisoners committed armed violence against the state.

Abdulmutallab in contact with jihadists since 2007, fostered worldwide network of contacts while in London

British police are focusing on Abdulmutallab’s time at University College London (UCL). In an examination of emails and texts, they have found him to be in contact with jihadists across the globe since 2007.

Abdulmutallab’s examined emails fantasized about jihad:

“I won’t go into too much details about me [sic] fantasy but basically they are jihad fantasies, I imagine how the great jihad will take place, how the Muslims will win,God willing, and rule the whole world and establish the greatest empire once again!”

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre may have flagged UCL in 2008 as one of about 12 colleges harboring an extremism problem.

Extremist information is being disseminated in London. DVDs of Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida-tied cleric in Yemen who may have inspired Abdulmutallab, can be purchased through bookstores and websites in the UK. Experts say his influence on locals is growing.

The US and the UK are working together on Yemeni and Somali terrorism issues.

Abdulmutallab and Hasan linked to Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, full body scanners go unused at Nigerian airports

Abdulmutallab is believed to have met with al-Qaida operatives in a house used by extremist Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He has also been linked to Major Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter.

Yemeni’s deputy prime minister believes the cleric is alive, although Obama officials believed he was killed December 24 on an air strike on a house in Yemen.
The US gave Nigeria full body scanners to use at their 4 international airports, but the machine in Lagos is only used sporadically and only for people suspected of drug smuggling.

Albdulmutallab told classmates after the Islamic course they were enrolled in together was over, he was going to study Shari’a law in Hadhramout Province, but may have lied to cover up travel to Shabwa.