A Muslim convert was arrested last week after crashing her car into Miami International Airport while yelling in Arabic. Afterwards, she told the police she had a bomb (which proved to be a lie). This is likely the first act of Islamist terrorism on U.S. soil this year.
Julissa Magdalena Maradiaga-Iscoa is an illegal immigrant from Honduras who has been deported from the U.S. before. She was even arrested for battery in 2013. Mainstream media coverage is avoiding saying what some Internet websites have pointed out: She is a Muslim and there is strong evidence she was motivated by jihad.
Law enforcement says this was no accident. A detective said she was "making an intentional attempt to breach airport security by attempting to drive her vehicle through the airport entrance."
Images from the scene show she is wearing the hijab, a head covering that many devout Muslims believe women are required to wear. Her sister says she converted to Islam about four years ago and has become pregnant by an Arab man.
Most significantly, Maradiaga-Iscoa describes herself as a "shaheeda" (martyr) in English on her Facebook page. She also "likes" foreign Islamists on her page that are unknown to many Muslim-Americans, for example, Zakir Naik, a radical cleric from India.
Her sister says she is mentally ill but there is no connection between mental illness and Islamic terrorism, although homegrown terrorists with little connection to formed groups have a higher chance of being mentally unstable. It is important to observe that not all mentally ill people aspire to commit terrorism. Islamist extremism is that special ingredient that can take someone—mentally ill or not—to that level.
FBI Special Agent Michael Leverock stated, ”There appears to be no nexus to terrorism," perhaps downplaying the significance of the incident by using terminology referring to organizational connections to foreign jihadists.
Her apparent act of violent jihad shows yet again the dangerous consequences that arise from non-violent Islamist extremism.
Zakir Naik was recently honored by the Wahhabist government of Saudi Arabia with a gold medal and $2,000 for "services to Islam." Naik is known for touting anti-Semitic, anti-Western conspiracy theories, for example, saying that 9/11 was an "inside job" committed as a pretext for a war on Muslims. He supports suicide bombings as a "last resort" in "self-defense," citing jihad against Israel as a situation where this is permissible.
"If he [Osama Bin Laden] is terrorizing America—the terrorist, the biggest terrorist—I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist," Naik said in one sermon.
In 2006, he said on the Internet, "Beware of Muslims saying Osama Bin Laden is right or wrong. I reject them…we don't know…But if you ask my view, if given the truth, if he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him. I don't know what he's doing. I'm not in touch with him."
Another cleric Maradiaga-Iscoa "likes" on Facebook is a cleric in Zimbabwe named Mufti Ismail Menk, who got his Islamic education in Saudi Arabia. He was scheduled to do a speaking tour at six British universities in 2013, but it was cancelled after attention was brought to his anti-gay preaching. One inflammatory quote of his was, "With all due respects to the animals, [homosexuals] are worse than those animals."
Maradiaga-Iscoa "likes" the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), an Islamist group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and a Pakistani Islamist group named Jamaat-e-Islami. Its events feature extremist speakers and one of its teaching guides displays the group's subversive, anti-American, pro-jihad agenda.
She also "likes" the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which the Justice Department has labeled as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity. The FBI acknowledges there is evidence linking the group to Hamas. The Florida chapter is one of the more incendiary ones. Executive-Director Hassan Shibly railed against nationalism last year as an anti-Muslim plot.
The media has a responsibility to report these facts and ask law enforcement about their relevancy to the case. The evidence strongly points towards jihadist motivations. The American people deserve to know that.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.