Alabama Islamic leader notifies FBI of social media contacts

AP News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2015 2:41 PM

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A Muslim leader in Alabama said Wednesday he had notified the FBI after mosque members received suspicious contacts on social media, including one that mentioned war.

Ashfaq Taufique, president of the Birmingham Islamic Society, said several members of the mosque received friend requests from an unknown person about 1½ weeks ago. One member also got a message, apparently from the same person, stating: "We are at war and we must stick together," according to Taufique.

Taufique said the meaning of the message was unclear. But the society member informed Taufique, who said he went to the FBI since the message could be tied to extremism amid a time of extremist violence.

"Because of the special time we are in we didn't want to take a chance," said Taufique, adding it was part of his religious duty to report anything that could endanger the community.

Paul Daymond, an FBI spokesman in Birmingham, declined to comment.

Taufique said the friend requests and message were sent before the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that is being blamed on a radicalized Muslim couple.

Earlier this year, members of the Birmingham Islamic community were encouraged to report any suspicious activities or signs of possible radicalization after a Muslim teenager from suburban Birmingham left the United States to join Islamic State. Leaders at the time said the young woman apparently was radicalized through online contacts.

A representative of the young woman's family said she withdrew from the Muslim community in Birmingham more than a year before her November 2014 disappearance.