Two days after Alton Nolen followed the examples set by ISIS upon entering his former place of business where he beheaded a co-worker, the former Imam of the mosque Nolen attended issued an apology – to ISIS and al-Qaeda. The Imam, Suhaib Webb, went through his old writings and concluded that he’d been too hard on the terrorists.
I woke up the other day and decided to skim through my body of work over the last few years. Boy was I surprised at some of my posts and talks – the tone and the demonization of others – I compared ISIS to Ebola.
While I don’t agree with ISIS, al-Qāida, certain progressives and others, I‘ve decided to apologize to anyone that I have spoken ill towards or demonized. I ask Allah to forgive me and to guide me to observe better character in the future. I asked myself, “Suhaib did you forget the 49th chapter of the Qur’an, Surah al-Hujurāt?”
Moving forward, I promise myself to address ideas instead of people, to be critical of thoughts instead of personalities and commit to ethics as best I can. That will create a better climate to unpack and examine current trends in our community, but ensure that I recognize other’s humanity and worth. Sometimes, I find myself forgetting humility, blinded by my own shine. Please, Allah, forgive me and raise me by making me humble!
A very common complaint against ‘moderate’ Muslims is that they don’t speak out forcefully enough against terrorist groups. Based on the fact that Webb portrays himself as a ‘moderate’ Muslim leader, what are we to conclude when he not only refuses to condemn ISIS and al-Qaeda but apologizes to them?
Perhaps such an apology is just further evidence that ‘moderate’ Muslim leaders are either a fallacy or comprise such a small minority so as to be rendered inconsequential. In 2008, Webb wrote about a trip he took to the notorious Masjid Al-Taqwa mosque, founded by Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. As Shoebat.com has reported, a main reason Wahhaj was implicated in the bombing involved his mosque being visited multiple times by Omar Abdel-Rahman (the “Blind Sheikh”). In subsequent years, Wahhaj has risen in prominence among fundamentalist Muslims, as Shoebat.com has reported.
Here is how Webb began his 2008 account of his visit with Wahhaj:
When I landed in the USA in Newark New Jersey for the al-Maghrib course, the first thing that popped in my mind was Masjid al-Taqwa! You see, for many of us 90′s MSA’ers, Masjid al-Taqwa was our spiritual umbilical cord. In those days, 1000 tapes landed somehow, in everyone’s cars and homes. The voice on those tapes was a spark of light, a gift of hope and the sound of reason and unity. It was Imam Siraj.
Wahhaj doesn’t just have a notorious history relative to his Majid al-Taqwa mosque’s connection to the mastermind of the first World Trade Center attack. He also has a history with a mosque connected to the second World Trade Center attack on 9/11/01 and the Fort Hood Jihadist attack on 11/5/09. The Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, VA was visited by three 9/11 hijackers when Anwar al-Awlaki was the Imam there; it was also visited by Fort Hood jihadist Nidal Malik Hasan.
It’d take some kind of gall to speak in that mosque after all those attacks took place and after being named as a co-conspirator in one of them. Here is Wahhaj speaking at Dar al-Hijrah just last year:
Wahhaj’s connection to Dar al-Hijrah is certainly not new. In this older – yet undated photo (circa 1990’s), Wahhaj can be seen with then Dar al-Hijrah Chairman Bassam Estwani. Today, Estwani sits on the Board of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a 501(c)(3) that has successfully lobbied Congress to support the ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels. This would be the same SETF that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) are smitten with, as Shoebat.com has demonstrated.
As Shoebat.com reported just yesterday, a colleague of Webb’s and another Dar al-Hijrah Imam, Johari Abdul-Malik, publicly stated that he would not criticize ISIS.
Abdul-Malik is the outreach director at Dar al-Hijrah. Another Imam there – Shaker Elsayed – has served as the Secretary General of the Muslim American Society (MAS) and has admitted openly it was founded by Muslim Brotherhood leaders. In 2009, Webb attended the U.S.-Islamic World Forum (US-IWF) in Qatar at which then U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander David Petraeus was a speaker; Webb was listed as being an Imam with Elsayed’s MAS:
In addition to being the former Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City (ISGOC) mosque attended by Nolen, Webb was the Imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC) attended by the Boston Marathon bombers.
After Nolen’s gruesome act on September 25th, Webb wrote just two days later:
I’ve noticed a trend in our communities to demonize those we don’t agree. I understand the need to distance ourselves from some personalities and groups, but demonizing them could have the opposite effect – it could create sympathy to their cause. God knows why that happens, but sincerity exists in ethics and unpacking ideas. Not dressing down others.
Once Imām Shāfi’i and his student got in a heated argument. Such, that the student stood up and stomped off in anger. Imam al-Shar’i ran after him and said something that we should all ponder:
“Don’t forget our brotherhood!”
I ask Allah (swt) to bless me and protect me from my evil. I ask him to give me insight in foggy times and to forgive me for demonizing others.
So, Webb would have us believe that he’s been too hard on ISIS and al-Qaeda, that they shouldn’t be demonized. He presumably also wants us to believe he’s a ‘moderate’. However, he seems to be very cozy with individuals and institutions that have very distinct connections to acts of terror perpetrated by the likes of ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Shall we conclude that he agrees with them?