Why Did Boston Police Chief Address Radical-Linked Mosque?
Wed, March 2, 2016
The Islamic Society of Boston. (Photo: © Qrsdogg Creative Commons)
Boston’s police commissioner William B. Evans attended the Islamic Cultural Center of Boston to proclaim, “We’re all Muslims deep down. We all yearn for peace.”
He made the remarks at a tolerance event organized by a veterans organization.
“We all yearn for peace" is a meaningless but harmless platitude. The sentiment “We are all Muslims” can be understood to be a political flourish attempting to demonstrate solidarity with a Muslim community, which is fearful of a backlash against Islamist extremism spilling over into widespread attacks on Muslims.
Read More Stories From Boston:
This backlash has not yet occurred although anti-Muslim hate crime has risen. But it is understandable that the police commissioner would want to make a gesture of solidarity, if nothing else in order to maintain positive inter-communal relations and thus keep the peace.
It is troubling, however, is that the Boston Police Commissioner selected the Islamic Society of Boston for his declaration.
The Islamic Cultural Center of Boston where the event was held is the sister mosque of the Islamic Society of Boston. Both are owned by the same entity but have separate management.
That mosque was attended by several terrorists:
- Boston bombers Dzhokhar and Tamberlan Tsarnaev worshipped at the mosque.
- The mosque’s first president, Abdulrahman Alamoudi, was convicted of terrorism charges in connection to a plot to assassinate a Saudi prince. Prior to that he had been a notable public figure touted as a moderate by the American government.
- Aafia Siddiqui also prayed at the mosque occasionally. She was arrested in Afghanistan in 2008 for a chemical-weapons plot to attack New York City. She tried to grab a rifle from police and shot at American soldiers. She was sentenced to 83 years in 2010.
- Tarek Mehanna, an occasional worshipper at the mosque, was sentenced to 17 years in 2012 for an alleged plot to carry out an al-Qaeda attack in Boston. His accomplice, Ahmad Abousamra, reportedly fled to Syria.
Radical texts and speakers are also reported to be fixtures at the Islamic Society of Boston, with imams reportedly promoting views in line with the Muslim Brotherhood. The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, was listed as a trustee for many years.
The ISB also gave “thousands” of dollars to the Holy Land Foundation, an organization that was later shut down in the largest terrorism-financing trial in American history for funding Hamas.
The Boston Police Department should be serious about building community trust. No doubt that is the reason for Evans' attendance.
But it should also be serious about not legitimizing and praising a mosque with so many radical connections by choosing it as the location for such a speech. Making speech at such a location sends the message that the mosque is approved by the state and therefore that such radical ties are acceptable for mosques around the country.
Surely this is not the message the police would like to be sending.
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.