The controversial imam of a prominent mosque in Arlington, Va., has urged immigrant Muslims in the United States to wage war for Islam.
“The enemies of Allah are lining up. The question for us is, are we lining [up] or are we afraid because they may call us terrorists?” Shaker Elsayed told a crowd of Ethiopian Muslims during a lecture at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va.
“Let me give you the good news: they are already calling us terrorists anyway. Whether you sitting at home, watching TV, drinking coffee, sleeping or playing with your kids, you are a terrorist because you are a Muslim.”
“Well, give them a run for their money. Make it worth it. Make this title worth it, and be a good Muslim,” said the Cairo-born Muslim.
“Muslim men when it is a price to pay, they are first in line. … They are the first in the community-service line. They are the first in jihad line,” he declared to applause.
At the end of the imam’s incendiary speech, a representative of the Ethiopian group walked to the podium and declared the speech was not calling for jihad.
“Just a disclaimer,” the emcee said. “Imam Shakir, he’s not advocating for armed struggle in Ethiopia. He’s just simply giving us a lesson. We’ll just continue with our non-violent struggle until these guys who are in prison [in Ethiopia] who did not bow down for this repressive government … are free.”
Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, the press secretary for the imam’s Dar al-Hijrah mosque, did not respond to messages from The Daily Caller.
“If Dar al-Hijrah were like most American religious institutions it would fire Elsayed, but it’s not like most religious institutions,” John Rossomando, a researcher at the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
“The mosque operates as a front for Hamas … [and] has the distinction of being connected with more terror plots than just about any other mosque in America,” he said in a statement to TheDC.
Ethiopia is a majority-Christian country and has defended itself from encroaching Muslims armies for more than 1,000 years. Currently, Muslims in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region complain that the central government has not given them autonomy.
“Ethiopian muslims are protesting against perceived government interference in their activities … [and] observers fear the latest move by the government would spark protests by muslims in the Horn of Africa country,” said a website run by Badr Ethiopia, an Ethiopian Muslim group.
The group cites the controversial Council on American Islamic Relations as an affiliate.
Elsayed’s comments add to his history of controversial statements that match orthodox Islam, but which clash with American culture.
In 1990, for example, The New York Times quoted him saying that the murder of a radical Jewish nationalist in New York was legal under Muslim law.
The murder of rabbi Meir Kahane “was not a violation, in the sense that Kahane adopted a position against all Arabs and Muslims,” said Elsayed, according to the Times.
According to numerous Islamic leaders, Islamic law endorses the use of war to expand the rule of Islam. The law, dubbed Shariah, also endorses the killing of Islam’s critics, including poets Christian preachers, and it allows only grudging recognition of non-Islamic governments.
For orthodox Muslims, civilian law is subordinate to Islamic requirements.
That provision has been implemented, at least in part, in Egypt’s new 2012 constitution. The constitution was mostly written by legislators in the political party created by the international Muslim Brotherhood organization.
Cairo-born Elsayed is a citizen of the United States. The mosque’s name, al-Hijrah, refers to the Islamic strategy of using migrants to gradually expand Islam into new territories.
Before and after the Sept. 11 atrocity, the mosque employed Anwar al-Awlaki as an imam.
Awlaki was a U.S. citizen, born to immigrant parents in New Mexico. He fled the country in 2004 but was successfully killed in a 2011 drone-attack. While overseas, he was tied to several jihadi attacks, including the November 2009 murder of 13 Americans at Fort Hood by a Muslim soldier in the United States Army.
The Arlington mosque is also closely linked to Brotherhood-founded organizations in the United States, including the Muslim American Society.
The federal government has investigated numerous Muslim groups in the United States, and has jailed or deported many Muslims who aided jihadis.
But Rossomando and other critics say the government has done too little to stop the Brotherhood from building a network of mosques, schools and advocacy groups in the United States.
The government has also done too little to shield immigrant Muslims from the brotherhood, and to integrate into U.S. society and culture, critics say.
“The Obama administration has willingly turned a blind eye to the extremist statements by the leadership of the nation’s top Islamist groups,” he said.