US

Boston imam shared ties with senior al-Qaida operative

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Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

The Islamic organization that includes Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s mosque has ties to the al-Qaeda operative that reportedly inspired Tsarnaev to carry out the Boston Marathon terrorist attack, according to FBI surveillance documents.

Tsarnaev, 19, was indicted Thursday on 30 criminal counts related to the April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon, which was allegedly carried out by Tsarnaev and his late brother Tamerlan. The bombing left three people dead and numerous others injured, and resulted in a manhunt during which a Boston-area campus police officer was shot and killed.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly left a note in the boat he hid in during the manhunt claiming that he bombed the Boston Marathon as retribution for U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims,” Tsarnaev wrote.

Prior to the Boston Marathon attack, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who attended the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, downloaded radical Islamic propaganda from the Internet, including materials authored by Anwar al-Awlaki, the senior al Qaeda operative who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen on September 30, 2011. Tsarnaev also downloaded a summer 2010 edition of the al Qaeda magazine “Inspire,” which included bomb-making instructions and which is thought to have been the work of al-Awlaki.

Al-Awlaki lived in the United States between 1990 and 2002, when he moved to the United Kingdom before eventually relocating to Yemen, where he where worked for al-Qaeda and produced propaganda tapes and other materials urging Muslims to commit terrorist attacks against the United States.

Suhaib Webb, imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury, spoke alongside al-Awlaki at a September 9, 2001 fundraiser at the University of California at Irvine, according to FBI surveillance documents. The fundraiser was intended to raise money for the legal defense of H. Rap Brown, an Atlanta-based Islamic radical who shot and killed two Georgia police officers. Webb and al-Awlaki helped raise $100,000 to defend Brown, who was eventually convicted for his crimes.

“Webb and Aulaki may be associated with the Muslim American Society,” according to the surveillance documents, which were prepared to investigate the unconfirmed possibility that al-Awlaki purchased plane tickets for some of the 9/11 hijackers.

An Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center spokesman told The Daily Caller that Webb did not know the full extent of al-Awlaki’s terrorist agenda when Webb was “working with him.”

“The views of Anwar Awlaki are totally abhorrent,” the spokesman said. “At that point Awlaki was a free citizen in the United States of America and what he was doing was not known at that time. Just as the U.S. government was letting him roam around freely, that was how the imam was working with him.”

The Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) in Cambridge, which Tsarnaev attended, and its 2009 expansion the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC) in Roxbury, where Webb is imam, are both part of the same entity under the same ownership and decision-making authorities, according to close observers of the Boston Muslim community and deeds obtained by TheDC.

“The deeds to both mosques are owned and held by the same exact group, the Islamic Society of Boston Trust, which is the official owner of those mosques and has final say in the decisions of both. They try to put difference between the two, because when one gets in trouble they try to shield the other one, but in reality they are both the same entity,” said Ilya Feoktistov, research director of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, which flagged the connection between Webb and al-Awlaki.

The ISBCC is run by the Muslim American Society, which counts ISB imam Sheikh Basyouny Nehela as a member of the board of directors of its Boston chapter.

The Muslim American Society was founded in 1993 after secret regional meetings of underground Muslim Brotherhood members across the United States. The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood reportedly “operated under the name Muslim American Society.”

Muslim American Society leaders were instructed to state, if asked about the group’s views on terrorism, that the Society was anti-terrorism but that jihad was one of a Muslim’s “divine legal rights” for both self-defense and for the spreading of Islam.

Nevertheless, Democratic Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and Democratic Boston mayor Tom Menino both appeared at inaugural events for the ISBCC when it opened. The city of Boston also allowed ISB owners to buy the land for the ISBCC at a lower-than-market price in exchange for various token services to the Boston community, leading to accusations that the city granted a “subsidy” to the controversial cultural center.

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