By Paul Sperry, www.NYPost.com
Last Updated: 4:49 AM, October 9, 2011
Posted: 10:56 PM, October 8, 2011
The 9/11 imam Anwar al-Awlaki may be dead, but his old mosque is still open for business and remains a dangerous breeding ground for terrorists — and it’s right in Congress’s back yard.
Nothing much has changed since 2002, when Awlaki voluntarily left the pulpit of the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in the Washington suburbs of Falls Church, Va.
It maintains the same radical leaders who hired him, and the same owners — even the same fax number that investigators believe 9/11 planner Ramzi Binalshibh used to send instructions to Awlaki and key hijackers he aided there. An un-indicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center attack, moreover, still leads prayers there.
Only difference is, now the mosque is under national scrutiny. And it’s grown tired of the attention. After news broke that the Fort Hood shooter had also worshipped there with Awlaki, and later corresponded with the al-Qaeda cleric in the run-up to the attack, the mosque held a press conference to deny it was radicalizing Muslims. But few bought its line that it was mere coincidence so many terrorists file through its doors.
On the recent news of Awlaki’s death by drone, the mosque stiffed reporters and just issued a statement. “While employed at Dar Al-Hijrah, he was known for his interfaith outreach, civic engagement, and tolerance in the northern Virginia community,” Dar Al-Hijrah spokesman Johari Abdul-Malik eulogized. “However, after Mr. al-Awlaki’s departure in 2002, he was arrested by Yemeni authorities and allegedly tortured” in 2006 in coordination with US authorities, Abdul-Malik added. “It was then that al-Awlaki began preaching violence.”
In fact, Awlaki was a longtime radical hired by a radical mosque. And Abdul-Malik, his close confidant, knows this better than anyone.
In 2001, while Awlaki was preparing the hijackers for their martyrdom operation, Abdul-Malik raised the banner of Palestinian jihad, saying it’s within Islamic law to “blow up bridges” and other infrastructure. “You can do all forms of sabotage,” he said at a US conference held by a Hamas front group, while cautioning against killing “innocent” people.
Three years later, a founding mosque member was arrested for allegedly casing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for possible attack. Ismail Elbarasse was released on $1 million bond after Dar Al-Hijrah leaders put up their homes as collateral.
After Awlaki fled the country, Abdul-Malik told me in an interview he saw nothing wrong with Awlaki’s sermons encouraging Muslims to become martyrs.
“Telling people to give their all for their faith is not an unusual idea,” he said. “That’s the same thing as telling Marines in this country semper fidelis.”
In addition to his role as associate imam at Dar Al-Hijrah, Abdul-Malik has served as a director for the National Association of Muslim Chaplains, whose founder has praised the 9/11 hijackers and called their attacks justified under Islam.
A black convert to Islam formerly known as Winslow Seale, Abdul-Malik has also called for Islamic supremacy in America.
“We will see the day when Islam, by the grace of Allah, will become the dominant way of life,” Abdul-Malik told the Dar Al-Hijrah flock in 2004.
“You will see Islam move from being the second-largest religion in America to being the first religion in America.”
Abdul-Malik answers to Dar Al-Hijrah Imam Shaker Elsayed, who himself has advised Muslims they have the right to use violence. “We do have license to respond with all force necessary to our attackers,” he said in one sermon.
Built in 1991 with a generous grant from the Saudi Embassy, Dar Al-Hijrah is held in trust by the North American Islamic Trust. NAIT is a US front for the radical Muslim Brotherhood, the parent of Hamas and al-Qaeda. Its credo: “Jihad is our way; Death in the cause of Allah our highest ambition.”
The Justice Department recently named NAIT an un-indicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case — the largest terror-finance trial in US history.
The deed to the “Row Street mosque,” as local law enforcement call it, was signed by Jamal al-Barzinji, NAIT’s secretary at the time. “Barzinji is not only closely associated with PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad), but also with Hamas,” unsealed court papers reveal.
Dar Al-Hijrah, which means Land of Migration, is also closely affiliated with the Muslim American Society, a group formed in 1992 as an “arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States,” according to federal court papers. The mosque’s board is packed with MAS leaders.
The FBI has had the mosque under surveillance long before the hijackers worshipped there. After the first Twin Towers attack, agents staked out suspects from the driveway of a large white house across the street. After 9/11, agents secretly cut back the row of tall evergreens hiding the mosque from the street to get a better view of activities.
The government knows the mosque is bad news. Homeland Security has slowed the approval of requests for green cards from Dar Al-Hijrah members. And it has warned federal agents that Dar Al-Hijrah is “operating as a front for Hamas” and “has been under numerous investigations for financing and proving (sic) aid and comfort to bad orgs and members.”
Yet politcally correct Washington is loath to shut it down. Dar Al-Hijrah is the largest mosque in the Washington area, and officials worry the hue and cry from the Muslim community would be deafening. Even the church across the highway is afraid to cut off the parking lot it shares with the fast-growing mosque for fear mosque leaders will complain of “bigotry.”
But Dar Al-Hijrah remains a powder keg, and politics ought not trump security. Put it out of business before it can deploy more terrorists.