Tales of Radical Islam in Virginia

Al-Qaeda idealogue Anwar al-Awlaki. (Photo: Screenshot from video)

Virginia has seen many different instances of radical Islam within its borders. Here are some of the most egregious.

 

The Dar al-Hijrah Mosque.

The Dar al-Hijrah (DAH) Mosque was co-founded by a Hamas operative by the name of Ismail Elbarasse. He was assistant to senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook.

In 2002 a Customs and Border Protection document states that DAH is “operating as a front for Hamas operatives in U.S.” A December 2007 document says it “has been linked to numerous individuals linked to terrorism financing” and “has also been associated with encouraging fraudulent marriages.”

Al-Qaeda ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki was imam of DAH from 2001 to 2002. Two of the 9/11 hijackers attended his sermons, as well as Nidal Hassan, who carried out a shooting at Fort Hood in 2009. Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011 in Yemen.

 

Defending FGM

Imam Shaker Elsayed defended female genital mutilation, calling it “honorable for girls” to slice the top of the clitoris off, “so that she is not sexually hyperactive.” Elsayed is the resident imam of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque (mentioned above).

He made the comments in Arabic in a speech translated by MEMRI. Prior to taking up his position at Dar al-Hijrah he served as secretary-general of the Muslim American Society.

 

ISIS Recruitment

In 2016, police released profiles on nine Virginians who were arrested for ISIS related offences. Their crimes ranged from supporting ISIS on social media and providing funds to travel to Syria, to actually travelling to Syria in person to fight for the terrorist organization.

Four graduated from a local high school (one was an honor student) and two were attending community college (one was working at the same time at Starbucks and another for a local bank).

Another who worked for two banks and for a hotel traveled to Syria to become a jihadi but changed his mind and was able to escape. One served as a combat engineer in the Virginia National Guard and worked for consulting firms. (He pleaded guilty to trying to buy weapons to execute a Fort Hood-style attack as well as meeting with members of Islamic State in Africa.)

One even joined the army (but was discharged after four months). The men were in their late teens and early twenties, except one 36 year old.

The profiles were released by The Washington Times.

 

Preparing Domestic Terror

A Virginia man was convicted for helping a confidential FBI informant make videos of landmarks in Washington DC for a prospective future terrorist attack.

Haris Qamar expressed praise for ISIS online and discussed his fascination with ISIS with the confidential informant. Qamar seemingly believed he was making the video of DC landmarks for ISIS to use in a propaganda video which would inspire a attacks against those targets. He was not charged with attempting to carry out an attack himself. In taped conversations, he told the informant about his respect for the extreme violence in ISIS videos and how he wanted to slaughter someone.

He initially wanted to join ISIS but his parents found out about his plans and confiscated his passport.

In February 2017, he was sentenced to “102 months in prison for attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” according to a Justice Department statement.

 

EF
Elliot Friedland
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.