Mosque raid shakes WHOSE "community"?

Here's a local story -- "Mosque raid shakes community" -- which has attracted international attention:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Federal agents raided a mosque and two homes in Philadelphia on Thursday and took a Muslim cleric into custody on immigration charges, authorities and witnesses said.

Internal Revenue Service agents executed a search warrant at the Ansaar Allah Islamic Society and an adjacent home in the city's Bridesburg section, plus a third home in Northeast Philadelphia, according to IRS spokesman Skip Bedics.

No one was arrested on criminal charges, but immigration authorities detained Mohamed Ghorab, an Egyptian who is the imam at the small mosque, which is housed inside a cinderblock garage.

FBI agents were also on hand for the raid, but the bureau's Philadelphia spokeswoman, Jerri Williams, said they were present only to offer support. She declined to discuss details of the case but said it had "no direct connection to terrorism.''

Ghorab's wife, Meriem Moumen, said armed agents seized her husband as the couple dropped off their daughter at school a few blocks from the mosque.

Moumen, 33, said one of the agents accused her of being involved in terrorism. She said her husband is peaceful and has no ties to any terrorist groups and, sobbing, insisted that they were "just a regular family.''

"He's only the leader of the mosque. He's not involved in anything,'' she said. "We were treated like dogs.''

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Philadelphia declined to discuss the case. Bedics would not say what IRS agents were looking for.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Michael Gilhooly said Ghorab, a visitor to the United States, had been ordered deported by an immigration court, but had been free on bond while he appealed the decision.

Gilhooly said that during the search, ICE agents "determined that the conditions of Mr. Ghorab's bond had changed and he was taken into custody pending removal from the United States.'' He declined to elaborate.

Worshippers gathering at the mosque hours after the morning raid said agents had broken down doors, opened cabinets and taken away boxes of records.

Hany Gab, a member of the mosque, said Ghorab was a father figure who simply wanted to remain in the United States to teach Islam.

"He is against killing anyone at anytime, anywhere,'' Gab said. (More, plus pictures, here.)

Is Ghorab really "against killing anyone at anytime, anywhere"?

Then what about this?

Some people, according to one activist speaking privately, had nicknamed Ghorab's Ansaar Allaah Islamic Society "the Taliban mosque," an allusion to the strict code promoted by the former rulers of Afghanistan.

....Brother Ronald Saleem Rashed, 65, a convert to the faith, recalled a recent prayer service when several congregants walked out after a speaker made reference to "our hero, bin Laden."

"I thought, 'That blankety-blank has to be out of his mind,' " Rashed said.

If we are in a war against people who want to kill us, then aliens who support the enemy (and references to bin Laden as "our hero" are certainly that) simply should not be in this country. It strikes me as common sense to deport them as dangerous enemy aliens.

Otherwise, if things heat up with another big terrorist attack, and the government hasn't done anything about them, individuals (like this man who apparently targeted Ghorab) may start engaging in vigilante actions.

(More here, including pictures of Ghorab's drive-through mosque.)

posted by Eric on 06.01.04 at 10:20 PM


Interesting bit in the last article. The imam speaks through an interpreter. Why hasn't an immigrant his age, and presumably of a 'normal' family interested in living as a normal family man (i.e. productive member of the society in which he dwells) learned the language?

Mick   ·  June 1, 2004 11:23 PM

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