Manassas has a tough fiscal problem to solve. Commercial development in the city has been stagnant at best, and the city wants to invest in all sorts of new infrastructure projects. In a “have your cake and eat it too” moment it decided the way to address this was to raise property taxes by an eye-popping amount while doing nothing to address commercial and industrial development. To make this fiscal equation even a little bit harder, the Manassas Muslim Association has asked the council to rezone one of the last parcels of undeveloped commercially zoned land to allow them to build a mosque on it, which would remove it from the tax rolls.
The council’s response has not only to seriously consider this, but to start calling the land use planning in the city “antiquated” and plan on spending $25,000 for a study to entirely revamp all the land use planning in the city. That would presumably incorporate the proposal from the Manassas Muslim Association, given how the Association’s president has favorably reacted. The last time the city decided to spend time and money on some sort of comprehensive study like this, the result generated a massive laundry list of capital improvement projects and lead to what became a 7% hike in property taxes. Prior to that, a comprehensive study was initiated that allowed an adult-themed business in Old Town. Needless to say, the track record here isn’t quite encouraging.
What really caught my eye in the Washington Post article about this was a name: Muneer Baig, who is the president of the Association. I’d heard that name before. That’s right, Baig was trolling the Prince William County Republicans facebook group for quite a while about a year ago, posting articles that advocated open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens and telling us all he was a Republican who wanted to help stamp out racism. I had a few civil “frank exchanges of ideas” with him during that time, which is why his name stuck in my head.
This exchange in particular involved him promoting a document whose signatories included the group “American Muslims For Palestine” which is a disturbingly anti-jewish group with close connections to Hamas and convicted terrorists. I called him on it, and he dismissed the concerns entirely saying “Radicals among us are giving them a reason to justify their existence. So they may be calling for destruction of Israel (I disagree), but radicals among us are DESTROYING our own NATION.” Even though he says he personally disagrees with calling for the destruction of Israel, he doesn’t seem to mind promoting the propaganda of those who quite clearly do, and a quick visit to his facebook page contains plenty more virulent anti-Zionist propaganda that was churned out to a fawning press by none other than Hamas.
A bit of googling shows some close connections that might reinforce such concerns. Baig has invited Johari Abdul Malik, Sheikh Mohammed Al Hanooti and Imam Mohammed Majid to events at the Manassas Muslim Association, religious leaders who are active in the ADAMS center in Herndon and the Dar Al-Hijirah mosque that the 9-11 terrorists used. While it is extremely difficult to navigate between Islamist apologists who dismiss all concerns as simple fear, racism and bigotry regadless of their merit, and some of the folks fighting Islamism who quite irresponsibly see every single Muslim as a terrorist threat even if there is no evidence to even suggest a valid concern, when you see a body of evidence start to pile up it should at least raise a set of questions worth asking.
Johari Abdul Malik is somewhat infamous for defending convicted terrorists Ahmed Omar Abu Ali and Ali Al Timimi. While standing up for terror isn’t necessarily dangerous in itself, it certainly isn’t great on your resume.
Abdul-Malik defended Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a Dar Al Hijrah, member who is serving a life sentence in a federal prison for nine counts of terrorism including plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush, kill members of Congress and bomb restaurants, nightclubs and other public places across America.
”Our whole community is under siege,” Abdul-Malik told the New York Times (February 27, 2005) ”They don’t see this as a case of criminality. They see it as a civil rights case. As a frontal attack on their community.
”The feeling I get here on a daily basis must be what it was like to be a member of Martin Luther King Jr.’s church following the case of Rosa Parks. People always ask, ‘What is the latest from the courthouse?”’
Abdul- Malik also defended Ali Al Timimi , a Muslim cleric of Fairfax, Va., who was convicted in April, 2005 and is serving a life sentence in a federal prison for counseling others to wage war against the United States and use firearms and explosives in furtherance of violent crimes.
”There is a view many Muslims have when they come to America that you could not be arrested for something you say,” Abdul- Malik, told the New York Times (April 27, 2005) when asked about the conviction. ”But now they have discovered they are not free to speak their minds. And if our opinions are out of vogue in the current climate, we feel we are all at risk.”
Abdul-Malik was often cited as the spokesman for the Dar Al Hijrah mosque and he used his position there to defend numerous convicted terrorists and question the judicial system in the United States.
Speaking of what looks good on a resume, Sheikh Mohammad Al Hanooti indicates multiple ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in America.
A 2001 FBI memo identifies current ISNA-affiliated Fiqh Council of North America Mohammad Al-Hanooti as a participant in a 1993 Philadelphia meeting of “senior leaders of HAMAS, the Holy Land Relief Foundation and the Islamic Association of Palestine. The memo also cites FBI informants who said that Al-Hanooti “was a big supporter of HAMAS and that “it was well known in the Palestinian community in the northern New Jersey area that Al-Hanooti was an active HAMAS supporter, purportedly holding fund-raising activities, as well as supporting visitors to the United States from Israel and Jordan, to speak on behalf of HAMAS. ” Another FBI informant stated that “In 1993, that Al-Hanooti collected over six million U. S. dollars for support of HAMAS in Israel. ”
As for Imam Mohammad Majid, his record is a little better. President Obama appointed him to a working group within the Department of Homeland Security where he successfully lobbied to remove 700 documents and 300 presentations from the FBI’s training curriculum on terrorism. His concern was that these materials might contain the suggestion that the laws and doctrines of Islam might have something to do with Islamic terrorism, and that wouldn’t be a nice thing to tell federal agents tasked with keeping us safe from people who should “Allahu Akbar” while they kill innocent Americans on US soil.
None of this should be construed to imply that Mr. Baig himself is any kind of threat. I’m pretty certain that anyone as ham-handed as this is likely to be pretty harmless, although he can be pretty annoying. What it should suggest that the City of Manassas is in no way compelled to harm their precarious fiscal situation in order to comply with requests from folks that run around in circles with those who think Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are noble warriors for Islam and hope to see Israel and the Jews wiped off the map. If some religious entity that had accomplished great things for the city came to the City Council and asked for a rezoning, I might — even in these precarious circumstances — understand why they’d do what was asked of them.
The Manassas Muslim Association is absolutely not one of those entities.
UPDATE: The Manassas City Council approved the rezoning study and dedicated $25,000 in public funds for that purpose on June 17th by a vote of 4-2. Only councilmembers Aveni and Lovejoy opposed it.
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