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Posted in: Anti-Semitism, Jihad & Terrorism

Published on May 21, 2009 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Homegrown Islamic Jihad in the Bronx

Now We Are All Israelis


Riverdale, in the Bronx, is a gloriously leafy, hilly, and peaceful suburb. I have visited its extraordinary gardens and gracious homes which overlook the Hudson river. More often, I've visited a close friend and her family who live there. I have studied and prayed with them. I have attended lectures at Riverdale synagogues. Riverdale is as close to me, both personally, psychologically, and geographically, as was the World Trade Center.

In response to a gruesome series of Islamic-Palestinian synagogue bombings in Europe, police officers guarded Europe's synagogues and Jewish Centers. Now, synagogues all over New York City, tend to have barricades or some kind of police presence outside. We are now all Israelis: Not just the Jews, but the world's civilians.

And thus, four African-American converts to Islam, all of whom converted to Islam in prison, have been arrested by the FBI just as they attempted to bomb two Riverdale synagogues, (the Riverdale Jewish Center and the Riverdale Temple), in the Bronx and a New York National Guard air base in Newburgh, New York where they lived and attended a mosque.

Why do I begin by clearly stating the race and religion of the terrorists? Because the liberal mainstream media refuses to do so, or buries such facts on its back pages. For example, see the New York Times coverage HERE. What starts as a bland, front page story continues on page 33 where, laughably, the Times writes "some of the men were of Arabic descent, and one is of Haitian descent." Only the New York Post HERE mentions these important facts up front and clearly. (And, by the way: One of the arrested men is quoted as saying that his parents once lived in Afghanistan; if this is true, let's note that Afghanistan is not an Arab country. It is totally unclear whether his parents are Afghans or not).

No, I am not in favor of "profiling," i.e. discriminating against or persecuting people because of their skin-color or religious beliefs. However, what is one to do when these facts are crucial to the matter at hand?

According to my esteemed colleague, Frank Gaffney, the Saudis have been funding Wahabi-style political-religious conversions among marginalized men in prison in the West for a long time. The Islamic Society of North America has allegedly placed many imams and mullahs in the American prison system where they prey mainly upon men of color, (they are over-represented in the American prison system), whose lives have already been shattered by poverty, racism, drugs, mental illness, gang life, and a long history of criminality. Islam may be presented to them as a religion of many colors, as especially friendly to men of African descent. Jihad may also be presented as a way to overcome "oppression."

Islam is probably not presented as an imperialist, colonialist force or as a religion whose leaders practice genocidal jihad, slavery, and both gender and religious apartheid; whose leaders were instrumentally involved in the African slave trade to America; and who, today, keep slaves, and persecute black Africans in Darfur. A formal, radical doctrine which preaches hatred of "white racist America," the very country that has jailed them, might be balm to their shamed spirits. Perhaps jailed men of color are also attracted by the possibility of polygamy, or by female co-religionists who are, voila!, subservient to men on American soil.

Perhaps James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams, and Laguerre Payen, (the Bronx Four), were inspired by the late, great Malcolm X, a.k.a. Malik Shabazz, a criminal turned Muslim leader—who was, arguably, assassinated by The Nation of Islam who found his preaching ultimately too…peaceful, too color-blind, too charismatic.

Or, perhaps these latest homegrown terrorist-wannabees were inspired by the ability of the Nation of Islam, (which emerged in 1930 America), to offer African-American prisoners protection and an identity in jail, and more than that: to help them remain sober, and to give dignity, meaning, and purpose to their lives. To the extent to which this "hate Whitey, hate the Jews" version of political Islam could and still does, indeed, uplift and console the spirits of the disenfranchised…..we are all in grave trouble.

Perhaps men also convert simply because they want to receive the perks that Muslims receive in prison: a better quality halal food, incense, prayer rugs.

But really, why am I not surprised by this latest thwarted terrorist attack in the Bronx? Jihad went global a long time ago. The Bronx synagogue car bomb and military airplane explosion scenario immediately reminds us of other, exploding, Muslim-detonated car and truck bombs outside American embassies and Marine Barracks in Africa and the Middle East; and exploding Muslim human as well as car bombs which blow up civilians, (most are Muslim civilians), in Israel, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

If we did not and now cannot stop it "over there," it is only a matter of minutes before we inherit it "over here." True, some say that if we bury our heads in the sand and build a high, isolationist wall, that the troubles abroad need not affect us in America, that we have endangered ourselves precisely by invading Afghanistan and Iraq and by supporting Israel.

Obviously, I disagree. But I do not know how America and Israel can effecitvely win a non-traditional Islamic, jihadic war which uses Muslim civilians, including children as hostages and as human bombs–and which has the support of the world's media.

The Bronx Four should immediately remind us of some other examples that are closer to home and which we continue to forget at our peril.

For example, in 2005, in Los Angeles, another group of African-American prison converts to Islam planned to blow up American military facilities, Israeli facilities, and synagogues. The group's leader was Kevin Lamar James; his most ardent follower was Levar Haney Washington who, once released from Folsom State Prison, recruited other potential terrorists to the cause. According to Frank Gaffney,

"Despite all the warnings, (about Saudi Wahabi infiltration of America's prisons), the alleged New Folsom State plot was not foiled by intensive surveillance of prison incitement and recruitment by Wahhabi clerics – let alone by keeping such Islamofascists out of the U.S. penal system. Rather, according to the Associated Press, it came on 5 July when Levar Washington, a convicted thief and street gang member, was arrested after his release from the New Folsom Prison, along with an accomplice suspected of perpetrating a string of gas station robberies."

America at the Crossroads aired a film about this: "Homegrown: Islam in Prison," which explores Washington's troubled background and conversion to Islam. The film asks, (but does not answer), important questions such as:

Can prison officials restrict an "inmate's access to religious teachings and services without violating the inmate's Constitutional right to freedom of religion? Do the allegations in this (terrorist) case outweigh the many instances of positive Islamic conversion in prison? And should prison reform — so long neglected at all levels of government — become integral to overall U.S. national security policy?"

These are questions that cry out for answers and for action. According to Gaffney, writing in August of 2005, (four years ago!):

"The cumulative effects of Islamist recruitment in the U.S. penal system are as stunning as they are ominous. Currently, there are said to be roughly 350,000 inmates in federal, state and local prisons who identify themselves as Muslims. Some 30,000-40,000 more are being added to that population each year. Official estimates suggest that roughly 80% of prisoners who "find faith" while in prison convert to Islam and that the percentage of the prison population that is "Muslim" today is somewhere between 15-20%. In fact, prison conversion alone is a major contributor to the rapid growth of Islam in the United States. "

I wonder what those estimates are today? According the the website of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, these statistics seem to come out every five years. Thus, there are no more current national estimates. A New York City estimate tells us that the majority of inmates at Rykers Island, the largest jail complex in the county, are Muslim.

There are other, perhaps forgotten examples of homegrown and foreign-born Muslims and/or prison converts to Islam who have attempted acts of terrorism in America. Jose Padilla, a.k.a. Abdullah al Muhajir, also converted to Islam in prison and, in 2002 was arrested for attempting to explode a "dirty bomb" and for wanting to join the forces of jihad in Afghanistan.

Onta Williams of the Bronx Four is quoted as saying: "They (the United States military) are killing Muslim brothers and sisters in Muslim countries, so if we kill them here (in the United States) with IEDs (improved explosive devices) and Stingers, it is equal." James Cromitie, a.k.a. Abdul Rahman, stated that he was part of a Pakistani-based terror group and wanted to kill Jews and Americans. According to the New York Post, "Cromitie pointed to people walking on the street in the vicinity of a Jewish community center and said that if he had a gun, he would shoot each one in the head."

It is crucial that we see the larger patterns and even more crucial that we act: To stop Saudi Wahabi funding of Islamic conversions in America, beginning recruitment in our prison system. But we must also reform our prison system so that it is does not provide such a fertile breeding ground for anti-American and anti-Jewish Islamic terrorism.


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