Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Muslims Help Keep America Safe

Video: Fla. Plot Suspect Arrested with Help of Muslim Community (CAIR)
Muslims' Key Role in Snagging Terror Suspect
Tampa Bay Times Editorial | January 11 2012 | [Full Editorial]

It was the Muslim community that helped the FBI snag terror suspect Sami Osmakac, the man accused of planning to bomb public buildings in the Tampa Bay area. That should not be forgotten as this case unfolds. Too often the threats of an extremist are extended to the broader Muslim community, which can lead to prejudice and discrimination. Just look at the objections to the Muslim leader who was invited to speak at a Hillsborough high school history class. Osmakac's case is a reminder that the Muslim community often partners with law enforcement, identifying dangerous extremists. The nation would be less safe without that help....

...It is these efforts by the larger Muslim community to subdue Osmakac and alert authorities that should stick in the mind when his name gets mentioned. That would help to prevent another distasteful incident like the one at Steinbrenner High School in Hillsborough County.

After history teacher Kelly Miliziano invited Hassan Shibly of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to speak to her class about stereotypes, human rights and other topics, an objection was raised. David Caton of the Florida Family Association, a one-man force of anti-Muslim bigotry, wants the Hillsborough County School Board to end visits by Shibly. Recently Caton launched a campaign against the reality television series All-American Muslim that resulted in some advertisers dropping the show. His anti-Muslim views are well-known and should be disregarded, which appears to be what the Hillsborough School Board intends to do.

The Osmakac case will bring out the fearmongers like Caton who will use it to spread venomous claims about all Muslims. But what it really demonstrates is that all Americans face the threat of terrorism together and will defeat it together, too.

CAIR chief says criticism rooted in misconceptions
Linday Peterson | Tampa Tribune | January 11 2012 | [Full Article]

The head of a local Muslim organization, Hassan Shibly, found himself fielding questions about two radically different events Tuesday.

On Monday, with the aid of Shibly and local Muslims, the FBI arrested a local man suspected of terrorism.

Later that day, Shibly and the Hillsborough County school district came under fire from David Caton and his American Family Association for a high school program on Islam.

Shibly, head of the local Council on American-Islamic Relations, argues that the two events aren't so different. He says they both stem from the idea that Islam can't be part of a democratic society.
The man arrested Monday, Sami Osmakac, had reproached local Muslims, saying they were infidels because they didn't condemn democracy, Shibly said...

..."Ignorance leads to fear, which leads to hatred, which leads to violence," he said. He blames ignorance for the Osmakac episode.

Osmakac, 25, of Pinellas Park, alarmed Tampa Muslims with his extremist, separatist views, Shibly said. He fought with members. "He called us infidels because we weren't anti-American."

He was banned from two local mosques, and Shibly and others began advising fearful members to report their concerns about him to law enforcement.

On Monday, federal agents arrested Osmakac on charges of planning terrorist attacks in Tampa.
Shibly called Osmakac a "lone wolf," angry and misguided, like a lot of violent people. He fears the damage people like Osmakac do to Islam.

"My kids are going to grow up here. We don't want to grow up in an environment where people hate or fear them because of their religion. But Osmakac promotes the stereotype they have of Islam."

Feds: Man Planned Terrorist Attack in Tampa
The Tampa Tribune | Elaine Silverstein | [Full Article]

...O'Neill and Tampa's FBI chief, Steven E. Ibison, met with local Muslim leaders this morning to discuss the arrest, according to Hassan Shibly, executive director of the local office of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Authorities wanted to thank the Muslim community for its help and assured it that Osmakac was considered a "lone wolf," Shibly said.

Shibly said Osmakac was banned from two local mosques, and local Muslims were so concerned about his extremist views that they reported him to law enforcement. His views were so extreme, Shibly said, that there were fears he might be mentally unbalanced.

Osmakac "had absolutely no support in the local Muslim community," Shibly said.

If the allegations are true, Shibly said, he wanted to thank the FBI for preventing a violent attack. However, he also cautioned that he wanted to make sure the plan was something initiated by  Osmakac and not something urged on by law enforcement to make an arrest.

"If he was instigated by the government, we're going to be very concerned about that," Shibly said.

Plot Highlights Extremist Views
Fox 13 Tampa Bay | [Full Article]

... CAIR executive director Hassan Shibly says preventing religious extremism is possible.
"Maybe we can work towards having a program where we can stop radicalization early on and work with law enforcement and the community to educate our youth," said Shibly. "I think the problem with this kid is that he was disturbed and he had no understanding of the Muslim faith."

Investigators describe Osmakac as a self-radicalized "lone wolf," meaning he was acting alone...

...International relations and military expert Colonel Mike Pheneger says religious radicalism usually has little to do with religion at all.

"There are a lot of terrorists who basically get a particular point of view in their religion that's very radical and out of the mainstream, and they find something in that view that resonates with whatever is going on with them personally," Pheneger said.

"I don't think anyone who truly loves religion or loves God is going to ever imagine of killing innocent men, women, and children," Shibly added.

The problem of religious radicalism is not unique to Islam.

"All religions, except possibly the Buddhists, have a fringe that basically can be manipulated," said Pheneger. "And there have been extreme Christians that have gotten involved in this sort of thing, and extreme Muslims."

Osmakac claimed to be the only good Muslim.  

Muslims Assist Authorities  
 Tamara Lush | Associated Press

...The area's Muslim community helped provide authorities with information, said Steve Ibison, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Tampa division.

"This case is not about the Muslim religion and it's not about the Muslim community," Ibison said. "It's about an individual who committed a crime."

Hassan Shibly, a Tampa attorney and the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he met Osmakac briefly over the summer. Osmakac was "ranting" about how CAIR was an "infidel organization," Shibly said.

"It was very clear he was very disturbed very angry and very misguided about the Islamic faith," said Shibly, adding that Osmakac did not appear to be a member of any of the area's mosques and had "disassociated himself" from those houses of worship. "He was very, very ignorant of Islam. He didn't know Arabic or anything about basic Islamic teachings about promoting peace."

Shibly said the CAIR office received calls from people in the Islamic community who were concerned about Osmakac's extreme views.

"Contact the authorities as soon as possible," Shibly said he told those people.
Suspect Too Radical For Muslim Community
The Tampa Tribune | [Read Full Article]

 ...Osmakac showed no respect to religious elders, who tried to steer him away from his extremist beliefs, community leaders said.
He repeatedly threatened one civil activist for encouraging Muslims to vote and promoting democracy....
Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Tampa office of CAIR, said Osmakac was banned from at least two Tampa mosques because of his extremist views. Shibly said he met Osmakac last summer outside a local mosque, where he was arguing with one of the elders.

Shibly said he stepped in because the elder appeared to be having a hard time and Shibly thought he could help calm the situation. When Shibly asked Osmakac which mosque he attends, Osmakac said he didn't go to any mosques because, "they're all infidels and because they allow organizations like CAIR to have a presence."

"At that point, I was really taken back," Shibly said. "Who is this young kid calling people infidels and giving people edicts and thinks he's right and everybody's wrong? The prophet Mohamed said, 'Whoever calls his brother an infidel is himself an infidel.'"

Osmakac "had no understanding about anything of Islam," Shibly said. "I asked him some very basic questions about Islam and he could not answer any of them. He was very clearly misguided."

Bedier agreed with Shibly, saying that Osmakac's understanding of Islam is "very shallow" and that he believes that Osmakac picked up his extremists beliefs "from the Internet."

Muslim Community Thanked for its Help in The Case
 Bay News 9
...Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Tampa, said he met with the FBI and the United States Attorney's Office. He said they wanted to thank the Muslim community for their help on the case.
"Sami Osmakac was against the Muslim community as much as he was against everyone else," Shibly said. "He had been banned from several mosques in the area. He had extremist views. CAIR has always encouraged people to report anyone with violent or extremist views...."

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