Earlier this month, the FBI arrested Erick Jamal Hendricks of Charlotte, N.C. for conspiring to develop an ISIS sleeper cell and attack U.S. troops. He was the youth coordinator for a mosque that belongs to the â€œmoderateâ€ Islamic Circle of North America.
Hendricks is proclaiming his innocence and says he publicly and privately condemned ISIS and Al-Qaeda. He also claims to have been an informant for the FBI and to have assisted the U.S. government in tackling at least six terrorism cases.
The FBI first interacted with Hendricks in 2009 when he was the youth coordinator for the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Center in Alexandria, Virginia. The mosque says it is a full-time mosque and an ICNA chapter and is led by Imam Yasir Siddig from Sudan. His bio says he was an imam when he was only 15 years old in Sudan and came to the U.S. from 2001 to 2005 and returned again in 2013.
Although ICNA says it condemns ISIS and considers its caliphate to be illegitimate, ICNA is a derivative of the extremist Jamaat-e-Islami organization.
A copy of ICNAâ€™s teaching guide reviewed by the Clarion Project said that Muslims are required to pursue the rebuilding of a caliphate and establishment of theocratic sharia governance. The guide is heavy with anti-Western content, justification of jihad against forces who â€œoppose the Islamic Callâ€ and ecommends using deception.
Read our profile of ICNA here.
According to the Charlotte Observer, five attendees of the mosque were arrested in Pakistan on terrorism charges. Hendricks knew them and talked positively about them in a way that would cast doubt on the allegations.
The news article carries a bit of good news. It reports, â€œThe mosque was of interest to Homeland Security officials because it was a branch of the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center of Falls Church, V.a., where Anwar al-Awlaki preached in 2001 and 2002.â€
Thankfully, Homeland Security was aware ofâ€”and concerned about–Dar al-Hijrahâ€™s history of extremism, which you can read about in our profile of the mosque here. It has longtime links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
Hendricks moved back to Arkansas in 2015 and to Charlotte, N.C. in July of this year. Of course, the ICNA Center and Dar al-Hijrah mosque officials will say that his later behavior is not reflective of their ideology. In fact, theyâ€™ll argue it was him leaving the mosque that made him susceptible to radicalism.
But it isnâ€™t a big jump to go from the pro-caliphate views of ICNA to supporting the caliphate of ISIS. One canâ€™t proclaim to be the â€œmoderateâ€ counter to ISIS and promote the same basic Islamist policies.