While the Muslim population in the state of Ohio has exploded in recent years, the number of cases of extremist “terror-related” investigations have increased too. The radicalization of Mosque attendees raises suspicions of radicalization within the doors of the religious centers. Are radical views being taught to the young men by the Imam or are there members who’re extremists who teach the youth to become jihadists?
A local Mosque just one mile from Ohio State is producing jihadists. With the latest terror attack from a Muslim refugee at Ohio State, questions about this community of Muslims and the mosque are back in the spotlight.
NOTE THAT THE LATEST TERROR ATTACK AT OSU HASN’T BEEN OFFICIALLY CALLED A TERROR ATTACK EVEN THOUGH IT CLEARLY WAS
MOSQUE IS UNDER SIX “TERROR-RELATED” INVESTIGATIONS
The website for Masjid Omar Ibn El Khattab, just a mile from the Ohio State University campus, proclaims itself “the Muslim Heart of Columbus.” And yet the mosque, described as one of the most ideologically hardline in the city, has grabbed the media spotlight once again.
Here’s a rundown of the known terrorist activity tied to Masjid Omar:
Columbus al-Qaeda Cell
One of the largest known al-Qaeda cells since 9/11, the conspiracy was centered around the mosque. While only three members — Iyman Faris, Nuradin Abdi, and Christopher Paul — were charged, it is known that there were more than a dozen members of the cell.
All three lived immediately near the mosque. Another cell member, Mehmet Aydinbelge, was deported from the U.S. in 2003 on national security grounds. Faris had met with Osama bin Laden and Khalid Shiekh Mohammed in his travels to his native Pakistan.
Abdi had traveled to Ethiopia to train at a terror camp there. And Christopher Paul, who had direct connections to European al-Qaeda operatives involved in the 9/11 terror attacks, was one of the oldest known American al-Qaeda operatives. Both Faris and Paul are still in federal prison. Abdi served his prison sentence, was stripped of his U.S. citizenship, and was deported in 2012. Abdi had helped establish a sister mosque to Masjid Omar in the Columbus area, Masjid Ibn Taymiyah .
Anwar al-Awlaki Funding Cell
Indictments in November 2015 charged four men — who previously lived in Columbus and attended Masjid Omar — with conspiring to send thousands of dollars to al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki between 2007 and 2009. Two of the men were arrested and the other two left the country. The men were formerly Ohio State students. Awlaki, the former imam of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in the Washington D.C. area, was killed in a CIA drone strike in September 2011.
Little Rock Killer Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (Carlos Bledsoe)
Bledsoe was convicted in Arkansas state court for the June 2009 murder of Army Pvt. Andy Long as he and another U.S. Army recruiter stood outside a Little Rock recruiting station. Bledsoe had previously lived in Columbus, and as reported by ABC News at the time, he attended Masjid Omar during the 2006-2007 time frame.
Dr. Salah Soltan
Previously one of the top Islamic scholars in the U.S., Soltan is currently in prison under a death sentence on terrorism charges in Egypt.
From 2004 until his departure from the U.S. several years later, Soltan was a resident Islamic scholar for the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus (ISGC), the parent organization of Masjid Omar. For a time, Soltan maintained an office at the mosque. Here is video of Soltan in prison with his fellow Muslim Brotherhood officials in Egypt:
As Ohio State student Rachel Decker waited for a bus to take her to school on June 2, 2009 — the very day AFTER former Masjid Omar attendee Abdulhakim Muhammad killed Army Pvt. Andy Long in Little Rock — Decker was approached by Wael Kalash and stabbed in the stomach with a large knife.
As reported at the time, Kalash fled to Masjid Omar and was found by police at the mosque. Local media subsequently played up Kalash’s history of mental illness.
As stated above, in July 2014 Jaffrey Khan, his wife Zakia Nasrin, and her younger brother Rasel Raihan entered Syria and joined ISIS. Masjid Omar president Basil Gohar has claimed that only Khan attended the mosque, and only for a few weeks. And yet the trio lived just yards from the mosque for two years.
Do these half-dozen terror cases represent a pattern of ideological indoctrination and recruitment centered on this one Columbus mosque.
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