Tunisian man ‘flatly denies’ NY claims he sought to remain in US to build terror network

NEW YORK — A Tunisian man accused of radicalizing a Canadian resident charged in a plot to derail a train has been charged with trying to stay in the United States illegally to build a terrorism cell for international acts of terror such as poisoning a water system with bacteria, authorities said Thursday.

Law enforcement authorities had watched Ahmed Abassi since he arrived in the United States from Canada in mid-March and arrested him on April 22 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, authorities said. Abassi met regularly with an undercover FBI agent and met with another Tunisian citizen who later was arrested in Canada in the plot to derail the train, they said.

The head of the New York FBI office, George Venizelos, said: “Mr. Abassi came to the United States to pursue terrorist activity and support others in the same shameful pursuit. What Mr. Abassi didn’t know was that one of his associates, privy to the details of his plan, was an undercover FBI agent.”

Prosecutors, in a letter submitted to a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan, said Abassi had radicalized Chiheb Esseghaier, who is charged in Toronto with conspiring with al-Qaida members in Iran to derail a train that runs between New York City and Montreal. Esseghaier appeared briefly in court on April 24 and made a statement suggesting he did not recognize the court’s jurisdiction.

Prosecutors said Abassi told an undercover FBI agent that Esseghaier’s plans were good but the time was not right.

Muslims of America, Christian Action Network square off in NY libel suit over book on terror

moaALBANY, N.Y. — A Muslim group is accusing a Christian organization of defamation for publishing a book that accuses the Muslim collective of holding terrorist training in its enclaves.

The Christian Action Network refuses to back down, challenging Muslims of America Inc. to prove the allegations wrong in an upstate New York court.

The Muslim group has a community in Hancock, near Binghamton, N.Y., and others around the U.S. It calls the network’s accusations deliberate and damaging lies.

Attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud said the Muslim group is seeking retractions and $18 million in damages, and a halt to further publication of network founder Martin Mawyer’s 2012 book, “Twilight in America: the Untold Story of Terrorist Training Camps Inside America.”

The group’s residential communities are peaceful, Amatul-Wadud said.

In court papers, Muslims of America said it was founded around 1985 as a New York religious corporation whose principal place of worship is Hancock, where it bought 60 acres of rural property to provide a safe haven for inner city families. It now also has communities in Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Canada and Trinidad.

Hate Crimes in MA, NY Follow Boston Bombings

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today said hate incidents in Massachusetts and New York occurred following the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon.

A Bangladeshi man was beaten at Applebee’s in ‘revenge attack’ over Boston Marathon bombings.  The man has claimed he was beaten at a New York City Applebee’s in retaliation for the Boston Marathon bombings – because of the color of his skin.

Abdullah Faruque, 30, says that he was heading out of the restaurant to smoke a cigarette when he noticed a group of Hispanic men who had been at the bar followed him out.

They then confronted him.

He said he was only beaten for a little over a minute, but he suffered a dislocated shoulder and was nearly knocked unconscious in the attack.

He told the Post that he knew he was outnumbered, and just did his best to protect himself.

He said it wasn’t until he got home when he turned on the TV and learned of the bloodbath in Boston.

Top Democrat Slams GOP’s Islamophobia After Boston Bombing

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) smacked down Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) attempt to link Boston bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to Islamic extremists based in the American Muslim community with no evidence, an allegation that emerged as part of a theme among House Republicans on Sunday morning.

The exchange between Feinstein and King took place on Fox News Sunday, when host Chris Wallace asked whether he agreed with the idea that “political correctness be damned, we have to do more effective surveillance inside the Muslim community.” King tried to link “Muslim communities” to the attack, a claim which Feinstein demolished:

KING:  Listen, the threat is coming from within the Muslim community in these cases. In New York. that’s why Commissioner Kelly has 1,000 police officers out in the community. Unfortunately, he gets smeared by the New York Times and the Associated Press, but the fact is we’ve stopped 16 plots in New York because we know that al-Qaeda is shifting its tactics…If you know a certain threat is coming from a certain community, that’s where you have to look.

WALLACE: Senator Feinstein, your reaction to this?

FEINSTEIN: That’s exactly where they will look. I don’t think all of this is very helpful. I think the important thing is to get the facts. Let the investigation proceed. The FBI has very good interrogators. They know what they are doing. I believe that they will put a case together that will be very strong. With respect to whether we are doing enough in the Muslim community, I think we should take a look at that, but I don’t think we need to go and develop some real disdain and hatred on television about it.

NY Times Book Review: The Messenger and the Message

‘The First Muslim,’ by Lesley Hazleton

 

FirstMuslim-CoverIn today’s febrile cultural and religious climate, what project could be more fraught than writing a biography of Muhammad? The worldwide protests at “The Innocence of Muslims,” 14 minutes of trashy provocation posted on YouTube, are a terrible reminder to the would-be biographer that the life story of the prophet of Islam is not material about which one is free to have a “take.” Lesley Hazleton’s “First Muslim” is a book written by a white woman of dual American and British citizenship, published in America more than a decade after the 9/11 attacks. For many believers it is already — even before it is read, if it is read at all — an object of suspicion, something to be defended against, in case it should turn out to be yet another insult, another cruel parody of a story such an author has no business telling.

 

“The First Muslim” tells this story with a sort of jaunty immediacy. Bardic competitions are “the sixth-century equivalent of poetry slams.” The section of the Koran known as the Sura of the Morning has “an almost environmentalist approach to the natural world.” Theological ideas and literary tropes are “memes” that can go “viral.” Readers irritated by such straining for a contemporary tone will find it offset by much useful and fascinating context on everything from the economics of the Meccan caravan trade to the pre-Islamic lineage of prophets called hanifs, who promoted monotheism and rejected idolatry.

 

In the terms it sets itself, “The First Muslim” succeeds. It makes its subject vivid and immediate. It deserves to find readers. However, its terms are those of the popular biography, and this creates a tension the book never quite resolves. Though based on scholarship, it is not a scholarly work. Factual material from eighth- and ninth-century histories is freely mixed with speculation about Muhammad’s motives and emotions intended to allow the reader, in the quasi-therapeutic vocabulary that is the default register of so much mainstream contemporary writing, to “empathize” or better still, “identify with” him.

Terror suspect pleads guilty in phony NY plot to blow up Federal Reserve Bank in New York

NEW YORK — A Bangladesh native accused of trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in New York with what he thought was a 1,000-pound car bomb pleaded guilty Thursday to terrorism charges stemming from an FBI sting.

“I had intentions to commit a violent jihadist act,” Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis said in a soft voice while entering the plea in federal court in Brooklyn.

He told the judge that he picked the Federal Reserve as the target, but he also expressed remorse, saying he no longer considers himself a jihadist.

“I deeply and sincerely regret my involvement in this case,” he said.

Nafis, 21, had been charged in October with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida. He faces a sentence of 30 years to life at his next court date on May 30.

While under investigation, Nafis spoke of his admiration for Osama bin Laden, talked of writing an article about his plot for an al-Qaida-affiliated magazine and said he would be willing to be a martyr but preferred to go home to his family after carrying out the attack, authorities said.

He also talked about wanting to kill President Barack Obama and bomb the New York Stock Exchange, officials said.

New York Muslim Stranded in Germany by No-Fly List

The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today urged the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to allow Samir Suljovic, a 26-year-old New York resident and American citizen, to return home from Germany.

Suljovic traveled to Montenegro this summer to visit family and friends. After trying to fly back home to New York on October 1, he was informed by airline agents in Austria that the DHS and CBP had asked foreign authorities to prevent him from boarding his flight. Suljovic has been stranded for 17 days and has repeatedly been denied the right to fly home to New York. He has contacted the DHS and CBP liaison at JFK International Airport, but has received no response.

Despite being advised to seek help from the U.S. embassy in Germany, embassy personnel have reportedly provided no assistance, and instead have interrogated Suljovic and allegedly searched his cell phone without his permission.

Suljovic was born and raised in Oakland Gardens, Queens.

A letter addressed to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, DHS Secretary Janet Napalitano, New York members of the United States Congress, and the United States Embassy in Munich was sent by CAIR-NY expressing concern and disappointment in the government’s role in preventing Suljovic from returning to his family in New York.

Earlier this year, CAIR called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate acts of “coercion and intimidation” allegedly used by the FBI to pressure Muslim citizens into giving up their constitutional rights if they wished to return to the United States from overseas.

After flap over pro-Israel ‘savage’ ad, NY subway ads on politics, religion to get disclaimers

NEW YORK — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved new guidelines for advertisements on Thursday, prohibiting those that it “reasonably foresees would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace.”

Under a policy adopted Thursday by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, ads expressing political, religious or moral viewpoints will have to include legends cautioning that the views being expressed aren’t necessarily endorsed by the MTA. The disclaimers also will carry the names of the people or groups sponsoring the advertisements.

The ad, which began running in the nation’s biggest transit system this month as a result of the court order, says, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

This week, an Egyptian-born U.S. columnist was arrested for spray-painting one of the advertisements in a Manhattan subway station. The columnist, Mona Eltahawy, who calls herself a liberal Muslim who’s spoken publicly against violent Islamic groups, said as police officers were arresting her, “I’m an Egyptian-American, and I refuse hate.”

In a statement, the MTA said it had considered banning political speech and restricting ads to only those with commercial messages.

NY Times on France’s “Burqa Ban”

September 1, 2012

 

The French law banning the full-face veil from public spaces has been controversial from the start, with loud debates about the meaning of liberty, individual rights, the freedoms of religion and expression, and the nature of laïcité, or secularism, in the French republic.

While pushed by the center-right and former President Nicolas Sarkozy, the ban was not opposed by the Socialist Party, which largely abstained in parliamentary votes. And the current French president, François Hollande, has said he has no intention of discarding the law, which has been generally popular with the French.

To avoid charges of discrimination, the law was written without any reference to Islam or to women and was presented as a security measure, making it an offense to wear clothing “intended to hide the face’’ in any public place, including shops or the street. The police do not have the authority to remove full veils, only to fine or require citizenship lessons for those who violate the new law. A clause says that anyone who forces a woman to cover her face can be imprisoned for up to a year and fined up to 30,000 euros, or $37,000.

Anti-Islamic ad claiming “it’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism” goes up in NY train stations

(CBS/AP)  An anti-Islamic advertisement has gone up at several Metro-North Railroad stations in Westchester County.

It reads: “It’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism.”

The signs were paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization ran by blogger and political activist Pamela Geller. It associates Islam with 19,250 terrorist attacks carried out by extremists since the 9/11. She told CBS radio station 1010 WINS in New York that the sign is intended to tell people that it is not “Islamophobic’ to oppose jihad terror.”

“The ad is just stating a fact. There have been well over 19,000 jihadi attacks since 9/11,” Geller said. “People need to know this. Obviously, everybody is surprised by this number and I think that’s part of the reason why we need to run these ads. People need to know this is going on across the world.”

The Metropolitan Transpiration Authority in New York (MTA) said it doesn’t support the sentiment displayed in the ad but doesn’t bar advertising based on content, according to CBS station WCBS in New York.

WCBS also reported that the American Freedom Defense Initiative previously attempted to place another ad with the MTA that had a picture of a mosque next to a plane flying toward the World Trade towers with the words “Why There?” In a decision earlier this summer, the federal court declared that the MTA would be violating the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s First Amendment rights if they blocked that ad, according to CBS radio station WCBS 880 in New York.

The AFDI’s Pamela Gellar argues that the ad isn’t offensive at all and simply points out facts. “It is, as the ad says, Islamorealistic.” But at least one prominent pro-Israel group disagrees. In a statement to NBC4, the Anti Defamation League said, “We believe these ads are highly offensive and inflammatory. Pro-Israel doesn’t mean anti-Muslim.”

Last month, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel ads appeared at Metro-North stations.

MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota said the agency may discuss its policies on political ads in September.