It looks like New Jersey state officials had the mosque of Imam Mohammad Qatanani under surveillance. Qatanani is someone whom New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has defended in the past. Christie also appointed a Muslim named Sohail Mohammed to a state Judgeship in Passaic County, NJ. As an attorney, Mohammed defended Qatanani.
Now it’s been learned that Qatanani’s mosque was under the surveillance of New Jersey state law enforcement.
Via the Boston Herald:
New Jersey law enforcement leaders have denied knowing about widespread surveillance of Muslims by New York City detectives, but state police agencies were involved in at least one joint effort: the monitoring of a Paterson mosque.
State authorities worked with the New York City Police Department to monitor the Islamic Center of Passaic County, led by Imam Mohammad Qatanani, police documents show. The surveillance included the use of an informant at the mosque and intelligence gathering during a three-day rally for the imam in his fight against deportation.
Because of his strong relationship with law enforcement leaders, Qatanani said, he was taken aback by New Jersey’s involvement.
“It was very upsetting for us, especially when our mosque is maybe the most open mosque for all law enforcement and elected and appointed officials,” Qatanani said in an interview.
New Jersey officials, including the governor, for months have denied that they knew the full extent of spying by the NYPD at Muslim businesses, mosques and schools in the state — even while NYPD spokesman Paul Browne insisted that New Jersey police had been informed.
Gov. Chris Christie’s office did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
IPT has chronicled Christie’s long and extensive history of expressing support and praise for Qatanani.
As for Sohail Mohammed’s relationship with Qatanani…
Sohail Mohammed served as attorney for Mohammad Qatanani, imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, while he applied for a green card, but the two ended the attorney-client relationship before his deportation case started. Qatanani hired another attorney, Claudia Slovinsky, to fight the deportation case in 2008.
The federal government accused the imam of failing to disclose an alleged conviction in Israel for ties to Hamas on his green card application. Qatanani denied any involvement with Hamas and won the case. But an appeals court has sent it back to the immigration judge, saying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s evidence against the imam should be reconsidered.
Steven Emerson, founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, also cites Mohammed’s involvement in the New Jersey group American Muslim Union. Emerson criticizes the organization and Mohammed, who has served as its general counsel, for making statements against certain federal antiterrorism efforts after Sept. 11.
AMU founder Mohamed Younes did not return calls.
Emerson sparred with Mohammed in a 2003 episode of “The Abrams Report” on MSNBC over the indictment of then-University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian. Arian faced several charges related to involvement with a terrorist organization. Emerson called evidence that Arian was supporting terrorism “unambiguous.” Mohammed called the case a “witch-hunt.”
And, of course, that brings us back to how adamantly Christie defended his appointment of Sohail Mohammed last year, when he turned his bombastic personality against those who had a problem with it, mocking those who had a concern about sharia law.
Here’s the clip from 2011 via Mediaite:
h/t Jihad Watch