Laura Mansfield

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Jihad Comes to Small Town, USA, Part 3

by Laura Mansfield

"The extremists have taken over so many of our mosques, one mosque at a time. They have driven out those who disagree with their ideology." Those are the words of Dr. Ibrahim Mohamed, a respected faculty member at a university not far from Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Mohamed is a proud and brave man, but he is also quite concerned that this interview will cause him to be marked as an apostate. At the onset of this interview, he made it clear that he fears retaliation in response to the information he is providing, especially possible during the trip to Cairo he has scheduled for this summer.

Dr. Mohamed is a graduate of Ain Shams University in Cairo, and has been in this country since the mid-1970's. He is proud of his U.S. citizenship. "When I came to this country, it was everyone’s dream in Egypt to go live in America. Everyone loved Americans. Now when I go back to my home country, I do not advertise that I am an American."

He is quite concerned that this interview will cause him to be marked as an apostate, and he fears retaliation, especially on his planned trip to Cairo this summer.

"In Egypt, everyone knew about the Muslim Brotherhood, but it was illegal. After the peace treaty with Israel, the radicals came crawling out of the darkness. But they weren’t idiots. They were very cunning," he explained.

Dr. Mohamed continued, "The US knew there was going to be a problem. They had problems in Iran with the Ayatullah, now they were afraid there would be problems in Egypt. Jimmy Carter and his people were going to reach the next generation of young men by giving them scholarships to come and study in America. They were going to teach them how great the US was. They recruited from universities in Egypt, Syria, Saudia, the Emirates – all the Arab countries."

Dr. Mohamed thinks part of the problem was the students themselves. "They [the students] didn’t have to be the smartest. Some were just average students. They didn't just come from Cairo and Alexandria, they came from Benha and Assuit and Mansoura and Gharbeya. Anyone who wanted to come to the US and go to graduate school could with a little bit of work, and get a fellowship."

He explained that the rural enclaves of Egypt, especially in places like Assuit and Benha, were known reservoirs of Islamic extremism, even back in the 1980’s.

"The US paid their tuition to go to universities all over the country, and paid them living expenses – around 500 U.S. Dollars per month. You have to understand that was a great deal of money to these men, especially the men from Egypt. Most had been working in an Egyptian university or a public sector job, and they were making less that $50 a month. This is in 1980 money. Much of that $500 a month went to support Bin Laden in Afghanistan, with the blessing of the US," continued Dr. Mohamed.

According to Dr. Mohamed, the US inadvertently bankrolled a generation of sleeper agents, educating them, and helping them to become established, respected members of their communities. Many married American women, believing that marriage to an American allowed them to remain in the US. And for many, the two year home country residence requirement was a simple formality. Some took their new wives back to their homelands, remained for two years, and came back to the US. Others found loopholes in the law, or managed to get exceptions to the requirement.

"Go look at your newspaper. The US reported that they have a man in prison in Iraq, a man from Jordan, a man who is one of Al Zarqawi's assistants. They say he came to the US, took US citizenship, and lived in the US for over 20 years. How do you think he came to the US? Most likely he came to the US as a student. He probably came to the US to study, maybe paid for by the US, maybe paid for by Jordan. Most likely he married an American girl, got a degree in Engineering, maybe a masters or a doctorate. Or maybe he got lucky and won the visa lottery. Those are the two main ways to get into America and usually it is as a student. They say he lived here for 20 years so he had to have a job, or maybe he started a small business."

Dr. Mohamed shook his finger at me, as though lecturing a small child. "There are many like him here. He is not the only one."

"Before the 1980's, before Camp David and the ensuing Arab appeasement, there weren't nearly as many mosques as you see now. We met in a classroom or a meeting room at the university, or at someone's home. Then the mosques started going up. They started small. Many started as a simple rented house. Then in a year or two they had the money to buy the land, and buy a building. Where did the money come from? Not the students. The students sent their zakah to Afghanistan. The money came from the governments. From Saudia [Saudi Arabia], from foundations that were set up by the Saudis."

"Who ran the foundations, who decided where the money went? The religious men, the ones serious about Islam."

But according to Dr. Mohamed, they weren’t just serious about Islam. Many were Wahabi Muslims, of the same sect as Osama Bin Laden. And it is these mosques that formed the core of the Islamic terror network that currently sleeps underground in America.

"We were very excited to have a mosque to pray in. As Muslims we are required to attend the Jumu’ah (Friday) prayer services. We believe that the reward for group prayer is 27 times that of saying the prayers individually, so having a mosque where we can assemble to say the prayers is something we were very happy about."

But divisions emerged, mostly regarding politics, according to Dr. Mohamed. "I prefer that politics and religion be kept separate, the way it is done here in America by your government. The separation of church and state is a good thing. Over the years the mosque became political."

Dr. Mohamed explained that at first, the political sermons were against Israel. Most Muslims were sympathetic to the Palestinian issue, and were largely unified against Israeli actions. Still, a few Muslims withdrew from the mosque community, but by and large the group remained together.

"First we got our own building. Then soon we needed a full-time Imam, someone who could lead the prayers and lead the community."

Dr. Mohamed explained that full-time imams have usually received advance education, maybe a doctorate or masters degree, in Islamic studies. And therein was a problem. Many of these imams have been educated in universities and schools surrounding conservative mosques like the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The Imams brought with them the ideology of Wahabi Islam.

And with the first Gulf War, the political divisions within the mosque intensified. As the decade of the nineties progressed, the sermons became more and more radical, says Dr. Mohamed. "Eventually it reached the point, after Bin Laden bombed the embassies in Africa, where I stopped going to the mosque. Anyone with eyes could see what was happening. I didn’t want to be connected to that. I love America. But there were so many people in the mosque that hated America. They are still there. Those of us who love this country don’t go to the mosque anymore."

Has he tried other mosques? Dr. Ibrahim admitted that he had tried several others, in the Atlanta area, and had not found one where he was confortable.

I asked how he handles the mandatory Friday congregational prayers? "Several of us get together at our homes, or in our offices at the university, or in a classroom and pray," he explained.

"You think there are no terror cells in America? You think the FBI and the Homeland Security has caught them all? I wish they would but they don’t. There are cells from Islamic terror groups in every big city in this country."

I asked "What about Atlanta?"

Dr. Mohamed’s answer was chilling. "I am absolutely certain there are groups here in Atlanta. I do not know who they are or where they are. But I am sure they are here. Do you want to know why? Because Mohamed Atta came to Atlanta. Why did he come here? There are flight schools all over America. Why Atlanta? The only answer is he had friends here, he had some sort of support group here."

Dr. Mohamed claims that he expressed these concerns to the FBI and he was assured that the matter would be investigated. He admitted that because he didn’t have any information other than speculation that it was unlikely that they would be able to do anything about his suspicions.

*Note: The name Dr. Ibrahim Mohamed is a pseudonym used to protect the anonmity of the actual source. It is NOT his actual name.

© Copyright 2005 Laura Mansfield, Associate Director. Reprints of this article are permitted as long as Laura Mansfield and the Northeast Intelligence Network are cited, and the article appears in its entirety.