The NYPD vs. a ‘Moderate’ Hamas-Supporter

May 14, 2012

Ryan Mauro 
To the outrage of some in the media, the NYPD secretly kept watch on Sheikh Reda Shata, the former imam of Brooklyn’s Islamic Center of Bay Ridge, even though he condemned terrorism, dined with Mayor Bloomberg and, he thought, had a friendly relationship with law enforcement. On the surface, this sounds like the NYPD unfairly targeted a Muslim it should uphold. Left out of this story is an important fact: Sheikh Shata supports Hamas.
Shata was the subject of a glowing Pulitzer-winning New York Times series in 2010. In one article, the reporter describes him as viewing the Hamas terrorist group as a “powerful symbol of resistance.” He condemns terrorism and violence but in 2004, he spoke at a funeral service honoring the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was killed by an Israeli airstrike. He told the crowd that the “lion of Palestine had been martyred.” In another lecture, Shata bestowed the coveted title of “martyr” upon a mother who suicide bombed a border post in the Gaza Strip, killing four Israelis.
The Islamic Center of Bay Ridge (ICBR), where he served as imam from 2002 to 2006, has a “long history of association with radical Islamic organizations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, going back almost 20 years,” said Patrick Dunleavy, a former Deputy Inspector General for the New York State Department of Corrections and author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad.

A 2006 NYPD document explains, “NYPD source reporting indicates that individuals believed to be supporters/members of Hamas may have links to the Bronx Muslim Center and the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, noting that in 2003, Mohammed El-Mazin, the suspected North American leader of Hamas, was a guest speaker at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge. In addition, in June 2003, the FBI arrested four individuals who were seen in of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge and who allegedly had links to Hamas.”
Is it any wonder why the NYPD conducted surveillance on Sheikh Shata, when he is a vocal supporter of Hamas and the leader of a Hamas-tied mosque that brings in suspected Hamas leaders as guest speakers?
The NYPD designated Shata as a Tier One Person of Interest.  Those who qualify for this designation have a “threat potential based on their position at a particular location, links to an organization, overseas links and/or criminal history.” It is very possible that the NYPD has even more concerning information about Shata and his mosque than is available to the public.
The ICBR first came under the microscope in 1994 when a Lebanese-Palestinian immigrant named Rashad Baz fired upon a van full of Hasidic Jews on the Brooklyn Bridge, killing a 16-year old, in retaliation for a massacre on Muslims in Hebron, Israel. According to two witnesses, the attack came shortly after Baz attended a service at the ICBR where the speaker said, “This takes the mask off the Jews” and “It shows them to be racist and fascist, as bad as the Nazis. Palestinians are suffering from the occupation, and it’s time to end it.” A witness said that he left the service in a rage. Two of Baz’s family members helped him hide his weapons and were in contact with a member of Hamas. Two terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, praised him.
In 1998, a speaker at ICBR reportedly said that Jews murdered Mohammed, Islam’s Prophet, and will forever wage war against Muslims. He vocally support jihad against Israel and distributed Hamas propaganda. Though these incidents happened before Sheikh Shata’s arrival in 2002, it is important because it tells us about the leadership that chose him.
The NYPD also had good reason to keep a close eye on things in Bay Ridge, as there were several expressions of extremism. In August 2004, Shahawar Matin Siraj and James Elshafay were arrested for planning to bomb a New York City subway station. Siraj worked at the bookstore adjacent to ICBR, where the two met. During Siraj’s trial, his attorney said the “entire Muslim community in Bay Ridge, the thought that the American government was responsible for bringing down the towers on 9/11 was common.”
On Memorial Day in 2006, graffiti praising the Palestinian Liberation Organization was sprayed on cars, trees and homes. Notably, only houses that displayed the American flag were victimized. A 12-year old boy was arrested.
In May 2006, hundreds of Palestinians and anti-Israel activists held a rally in Bay Ridge and chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” For that to happen, that means Israel must be destroyed. In January 2009, a hacker struck the Bay Ridge Jewish Center’s website and had it display the words, “Death to Israel” and “For Palestine For Gazza [sic] For Hamas.”
Sheikh Shata left the ICBR in 2006 and now is the imam of the Islamic Society of Monmouth County in New Jersey. His website states that he is known for his “moderate” interpretation of Sharia Law, but “moderate” compared to what? He told the Times that he is a moderate because he opposes suicide bombings of civilians, but approves of violence against Israeli soldiers in defense. He said that when he taught Sharia Law in Saudi Arabia from 1990 to 1995, he found them to be overly strict. In other words, he is a moderate because there’s worse out there.
Shata won’t shake a woman’s hand and supports banning music that “encourages sexual desire.” Shata’s website doesn’t have many sermons by him, but one is titled, “Why They Hate Islam.” The sermon goes through five reasons why “we [Muslims] are prey for many predators” and why Muslims are targeted by “these animals” even in their own homes.
The first reason is because Islam was created by Allah and Islam’s enemies are controlled by Satan. He explains that Allah created good and evil, with the good being created in the East, and the struggle never ended. Obviously, that means that the West is where Satan/evil was created.
The second reason is “widespread ignorance.” The third reason is that there are people in “high, influential positions” that get rich off of destroying the lives of Muslims and promoting segregation. The fourth is “overwhelming fear,” particularly of “Islamic politics.” Sheikh Shata criticizes the notion that “if a nation is ruled by Islam,” it will be war-like. In other words, the creation of an Islamic State (which is the goal of Hamas and its parent organization, Muslim Brotherhood) is a good thing. The final reason is “cursed, strict ideals and stubbornness.”
Shata’s website indicates he is also a frequent guest lecturer at the Islamic Society of Passaic County in Paterson, N.J., another mosque with strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, led by Imam Mohammed Qatanani.
The case of Shata is part of an overall lesson. Participating in interfaith events, friendly engagements with public officials and meetings with government agencies doesn’t automatically make someone a moderate. In fact, Islamist extremist groups usually do these kinds of things.
The real story here is that the NYPD decided it would be prudent to conduct surveillance on a mosque with a history of ties with Islamic extremism and its leader, who supports Hamas. If the NYPD declined to do that, that would be the real scandal.
Ryan Mauro is RadicalIslam.org’s National Security analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and a frequent security analyst for Fox News.


Released for Gilad Shalit: the Butcher of Ramallah, and other "heroes" of the "Palestine"

October 18, 2011

Nurzhitz and Avrahami were lost and were stopped and arrested by Palestinian police. who ripped these Israelis apart limb by limb with a Palestinian mob, then showed their bloody hands through the window to the ecstatic Palestinians outside. Abdel-Aziz Saleh AKA Abed El-Aziz Salha AKA Aziz Salha AKA known as the “Butcher of Ramallah,” are part of the terrorist exchange for Gilad Shalit.

The lynchings of Vadim Norzich and Yosef Avrahami constituted one of the most shocking terrorist acts of the so-called “Aqsa intifada.” (Even if it was underplayed in the media.) Shortly after the lynching, Norzich’s uncle and family made aliyah. Upon his return home, Salaha, who proudly displayed his victims’ blood, will be greeted as a hero. One society seeks to rebuild that which is destroyed; the other celebrates the destruction. One can rail about “settlements” and lack of contiguity, but until Palestinian society is more concerned with being productive than destructive, there won’t be peace.

Soccer Dad’s
Middle East Media Sampler
for Monday, October 17.

1) She keeps the home fires burning

The LA Times has a touching story about Raeda Omjamal, who awaits the return of her husband Rawhi Mushtaha, one of the 1027 prisoners whom Israel plans to release in the deal to gain the release of hostage, Gilad Shalit.

Omjamal was 23 years old, a freshly transplanted Palestinian refugee from Jordan who only met her husband two months before their wedding. The had another six months after the marriage. Now, at 47, Omjamal is preparing to welcome her husband back home after seeing him only once during 24 years of incarceration. Though they exchanged occasional messages and letters through attorneys, personal visits were mostly prohibited. Today, the young, bearded fighter she married in 1988 is a gray-haired, wrinkled stranger. Asked how it will feel to live in the same house again, she laughed and turned red, noticeable even though a pale green veil covering most of her face.

Worst of all was this sentence:

Israel called him a murderer for his role in helping to run Hamas’ military operations.

He was involved in an organization that murdered (Palestinians) and was convicted. The New York Times in Israel Releases Names of 477 Prisoners to Be Freed in Trade is a little less sentimental and doesn’t spend time on Omjamal’s sentimental regrets:

The list includes Rawhi Mushtaha and Yehya Sinwar, two founders of Al Majd, a forerunner of Hamas’s military wing. Al Majd killed Palestinian collaborators, cracked down on behavior regarded as immoral and gathered weapons. Both were arrested in early 1988, less than two months after the outbreak of the first Palestinian uprising and the formal creation of Hamas by Sheik Ahmed Yassin. Mr. Mushtaha, 52, was serving four life sentences for murder through an act of terror, military exercises, manslaughter and incitement. His wife, Raeda, wearing a full face niqab veil, confirmed Sunday that her husband was a founder of Al Majd. Asked if he regretted his actions she said, “No.” Speaking from her Gaza City home, she continued: “Rawhi is with Hamas until we restore all our Islamic holy places and the return of refugees. Our method and path is resistance. We will not lay down weapons, because resistance is a legitimate right for any people fighting for their freedom.”

Interesting statement about that lack of regret. I couldn’t find this elsewhere, so I have to (regretably) use Al Jazeera as a source. What is one of the terms of release?

“They will have to sign a declaration that he or she will not be involved in terrorist activities any more, but after that, there is no monitoring,” Emi Talmor, director of the Israeli justice ministry’s pardons department, told Al Jazeera.

That quote – if it accurately conveys Mushtaha’s feelings – would be a repudiation of that declaration wouldn’t it? (I’ve been informed that the declaration is a formality; with no legal significance. The Al Jazeera article is interesting in that it says that the released terrorists will be monitored. Will Israel take any action if they travel to a prohibited area?) The New York Times associates Mushtaha with Al Majd, effectively acknowledging his guilt and not just attributing it to an Israeli declaration. For a description of what Mushtaha did, here’s a 1993 op-ed from the New York Times, The Hamas way of death. Israel found a training tape of Hamas, and the New York Times thought it was newsworthy enough to publish.

At first, every collaborator denies his crimes. So we start off by showing the collaborator the testimony against him. We tell him that he still has a chance to serve his people, even in the last moment of his life, by confessing and giving us the information we need. We say that we know his repentance is sincere and that he has been a victim. That kind of talk is convincing. Most of them confess after that. Others hold out; in those cases, we apply pressure, both psychological and physical. Then the holdouts confess as well. Only one collaborator has ever been executed without an interrogation. In that case, the collaborator had been seen working for the Border Guard since before the intifada, and he himself confessed his involvement to a friend, who disclosed the information to us. In addition, three members of his network of collaborators told us that he had caused their isqat. With this much evidence, there was no need to interrogate him. But we are very careful to avoid wrongful executions. In every case, our principle is the same: the accused should be interrogated until he himself confesses his crimes.

So anyone who became “inconvenient” could be denounced for helping Israel and then judged and executed.
2) Blood on his hands
There was an expression that Israel would not release terrorists with “blood on their hands.” It was a figure of speech, meaning that at one point Israel would never free any terrorists who had actually killed Israelis. That line has long ago been crossed, and given that the sentences Israel is ending early add up to thousands of years, quite a few murderers are being freed in order to free Gilad Shalit. But according to Ynet, Israel will be releasing the terrorist who literally had blood on his hands. (h/t Baltimore Jewish Life)

On the one hand, the bereaved brother says, the family is happy for the parents and siblings who will see their son Gilad Shalit come home. “On the other hand, our family is angry that nobody cared about our sensitivity. No one (in the government) experienced our pain,” he said. The painful monologue above belongs to Michael Norzich, brother of Vadim, who was murdered by a mob in Ramallah in the year 2000. Michael said that no one called to tell him that one of the murderers of his brother is included in the list of 477 prisoners who will be released as part of the first phase of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal. Abed Alaziz Salaha, who was photographed in the horrific photo with his hands covered with blood in what has become the symbol of the second intifada, was sentenced to life in prison but is expected to be released on Tuesday.