Not only did Ferdaus’ radical views tip off the FBI, they got him expelled from his local mosque in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Last year, the Islamic Sosciety of Boston Cultural Center asked Ferdaus to leave because of his radical Islamic views, hostility towards women, and his suspected support of al Qaeda. “I can’t think of a mosque where he was welcome,” said the mosque’s director:
Rezwan Ferdaus was said to revere the terrorist organization [al Qaeda], and he criticized the mosque’s participation in interfaith efforts and in politics. He also disapproved of the mosque’s liberal policies that allowed men and women to eat and drink together in its cafe and was hostile toward women he thought dressed inappropriately or who had conversations with men, the official said.
“We said, ‘Look, that’s not going to work here,’ ’’ said Atif Harden, director of institutional advancement at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. “I can’t think of a mosque where he was welcome. He was clearly way out of step with the rest of the Muslim community . . . very disaffected, very disturbed. Just a bitter, angry guy.’’
Another mosque attendee Ricardo Maestre noted that Ferdaus “would really be disrespectful to the sisters who go here and say really stupid things, talk about jihad.” Noting the importance for Muslims to speak against extremism in Islam, Maestre added, “Some Muslims are afraid to speak out against that…I’m not.”
Mosques and Muslim communities have been instrumental in the fight against homegrown terrorism. As Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) has noted, “About a third of all foiled al-Qaida related plots in the U.S. relied on support or information provided by members of the Muslim community. Indeed, the father of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — the man who tried to bomb a plane over Detroit last year — actually alerted authorities about his son’s “extreme radical views” months before the attempted attack.
What’s more, a Duke University study found that “many mosque leaders had put significant effort into countering extremism by building youth programs, sponsoring antiviolence forums and scrutinizing teachers and texts.” “This is one reason that Muslim-American terrorism has resulting in fewer than three dozen of the 136,000 murders committed in the United States since 9/11,” the study concluded.
In the era of extreme Islamophobia, the role of Muslim Americans in fighting terrorism often get papered over, ignored, or completely reversed to fit a political agenda. Despite the consistent distortion and hatred directed at Muslim Americans, they continue to play a fundamental part in our national security.