Jersey jihadists

Posted: Feb 02, 2005 12:00 AM

When a family of Egyptian immigrants was murdered in Jersey City recently, the media?s response was to wring its hands about anti-Muslim bias.  But the truth is more complicated, and reveals the media?s own bias--against America.

Anti-Muslim bias had nothing to do the killing of the Armanious family; they were Coptic Christians.  It wasn?t the religion of the victims that concerned the press; it was the religion of the suspected murderers.

Over the weekend, the Associated Press wrote of the ?dirty looks and shouted slurs? directed at Muslims in Jersey City following the slaughter of an Egyptian Christian man, his wife, and two young daughters, which many reports attribute to local radical Islamists upset about something the man wrote in an Internet chat room.

The AP followed in predictable fashion:

The strife is particularly distressing in light of efforts the area?s Muslim community made to reach out to other faiths and strengthen ties after the 9/11 attacks.

What the AP conveniently ignored, however, was known and suspected radical activity in northern New Jersey's Muslim community.

The former imam at the El Tawheed Islamic Center of Jersey City, Alaa Al-Sadawi, was convicted in July 2003 of attempting to smuggle more than $650,000 in cash to the terrorist Global Relief Fund in Egypt in April 2002.

One of Al-Sadawi?s former mosque-goers was convicted last March of murdering in the name of Islam.  Alim Hassan, then 31, killed his pregnant wife, her mother, and her sister on July 30, 2002.  He reportedly stabbed the women more than 20 times each because they refused to convert to Islam.  According to reports, Hassan prayed regularly at El-Tawheed.

Al-Sadawi and Hassan were hardly the first Muslims in the area, though, to appear on authorities? radar.

Mohamed El-Mezain , the former imam at the nearby Islamic Center of Passaic County, which has close relations with El-Tawheed, worked with the Paterson-based mosque to raise funds for Hamas in the mid-1990s, according to an FBI memo drafted in November 2001 by the FBI?s assistant director of counterterrorism Dale Watson.  El-Mezain, who is no longer affiliated with the Islamic Center, was never charged or arrested.

The FBI document, which served as the basis for the U.S. government shutting down the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in December 2001, cited a ?reliable? source in noting that ?during a speech at the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) in November, 1994, Mohammad El-Mezain, the HLFRD?s current Director of Endowments and former Chairman of the HLFRD Board, admitted that some of the money collected by the ICPC and the HLFRD goes to Hamas or Hamas activities in Israel.  El-Mezain also defended Hamas and the activities carried out by Hamas.?

El-Mezain also openly raised funds for Hamas, according to the FBI memo.  After a speech at a Muslim rally in Southern California in the mid-90?s in which the keynote speaker urged attendees to ?exterminate? and ?finish off the Israelis,? El-Mezain asked for contributions and told the crowd that $1.8 million had been raised for Hamas in 1994 alone, according to the memo.

Radicalism at ICPC hardly seems to have subsided.  The mosque in February 2003 hosted a lecture by Abdelhaleem Ashqar, long after he was identified by the FBI memo as a prominent Hamas figure.

Investigators in Jersey City have yet to announce the motive for the murder of the Armanious family.  But if it turns out that the murder or murders were religiously-motivated Muslims, with whom will the media sympathize: those grieving for the victims or those who attend the same hate-filled mosques as the murderers?  Is there any doubt?