Here is a paragaph sure to get the attention of Northern Virginia residents—except that, to my knowledge, the information hasn't appeared in the local newspapers. From the June 20, 2006 UK Times Online:
"In the Falls Plaza shopping mall, most preferred to chat about their historic city’s latest civic award for its floral displays and not its reputation as the jihad capital of America."More from the UK Times on Line article "British Agents Trace 7/7 Terror Links to Smalltown America":
"BRITISH agents are operating in the United States to trace links with Islamic extremists from England who recruit Muslims to fight for terrorist groups abroad.The article provides details about U.S.-born teacher and founder of the Falls Church Dar alArqam Center for Islamic Information Ali al-Tamimi. In January 2006, he was sentenced to life plus seventy years without possibility of parole for his role in attempting to recruit followers to go to Afghanistan to fight U.S. Forces.
"The British-led investigation has played a part in identifying a number of US-based terrorists and helped the authorities in Washington to break up an al-Qaeda cell operating in Falls Church, Virginia.
"The agents are particularly keen to discover if the visitors included Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the July 7 suicide bombers, who is alleged to have travelled to America’s East Coast to meet fellow militants and stage a series of attacks on synagogues."
The convictions go beyond that of al-Tamimi. A particular group of individuals known as "The Virginia Eleven" regularly attended the the Dar alArqam Center in Falls Church and have also been convicted of terrorism charges. A twelfth attendee of the center, Ahmed Abu Ali, member of Al-Qaeda, is serving a penitentiary term for plotting to assassinate President Bush.
Asi Asad Chandia, the most recently convicted of "The Virginia Eleven," was a teacher and personal assistant to al-Timimi. In addition, evidence appears to show that Asi Asad Chandia once worked as chauffeur to Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the 7/7 London bombers.
In the article, much is made of the fact that the Dar alArqam Center was a break-away from the Dar al-Hijrah Center, which we locals call "the Falls Church mosque." Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki, the former imam of that mosque, served as spiritual mentor to two of the 9/11 hijackers; he never faced any charges and is now in Yemen. The following is his comment about The Virginia Eleven:
"'They made inappropriate and irreponsible comments,' the imam said. 'Some did go to training camps but none fired a shot in anger, and once they were in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan and saw what it was really like, they soon had a change of heart and came home. They are guilty of thought crimes.'"No word as to whether or not they might have fired a shot as participant in the highest jihad—killing infidels in the name of Allah.
Knowing that an al-Qaeda cell local to me has been broken up is comforting. But the UK Times Online article also contains the following statement:
"After al-Tamimi’s conviction, what was left of his group abandoned the Dar al-Arqam centre, which no longer has any links with fundamentalist groups. FBI sources say they are unsure what has happened to some of his followers."The article concludes with the following:
Among the measures suggested by the task force which have yet to be taken up:Ah, the dhimmitude!A public inquiry into 7/7 bombings
Rapid rebuttal unit to combat Islamophobia
National resource unit for development of curricula in mosques and madrassas, and guidelines for teachers
Programmes to “upskill” current imams
Muslim “beacon centres” to help small mosques and cultural centres
Set up and fund network of Muslim safety forums to promote meaningful partnership between community and police
Ministerial review of raids, stop and search and armed police activity
Correct the “alien” image of Islam in the national curriculum