Mosque Near Ohio State Campus Has History Of Attendees With Terror Ties
Columbus, Ohio, is no stranger to attacks like the one seen at Ohio State University Monday and a controversial mosque just a mile from OSU has already been at he center of six separate terror cases.
It is presently unknown if the suspect at OSU Monday, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, attended the Masjid Omar Ibn El Khattab mosque, but the mosque has a history of former attendees who have been involved in terror activities.
The Masjid Omar mosque was home to one of the largest known al-Qaeda cells since 9/11, reported PJ Media’s Patrick Poole back in August. Although only three members — Lyman Faris, Nuradin Abdi and Christopher Paul — were charged, it is known that there were over a dozen members of the cell.
Poole, a resident of Ohio, told Daily Caller the mosque is popular with OSU students.
According to Poole, a counter-terrorism expert, three persons who lived just a few yards from the mosque for two years joined ISIS in Syria in July 2014.
One of the individuals, Rasel Raihan, was killed in Syria in a U.S. airstrike, while his older sister Zakia Nasrin and her husband Jaffrey Khan are still in Raqqa, according to internal ISIS documents which NBC News obtained from an ISIS defector.
Mosque President Basil Gohar insisted to NBC earlier this year the ISIS recruits and convicted al qaeda terrorists had very little to do with their mosque.
“We share the shock and horror of these actions, and we wish that we could have found out or stopped them … It’s quite unfortunate what these people went and did, but the fact they attended has no bearing on their actions,” Gohar said. “Anyone can come to our mosque. We have an open door policy. It’s not possible for us to screen someone’s ideology.”
However, after Paul’s arrest in April 2007, the Justice Department stated in press releases and federal court filings that he was conducting training inside the mosque.
Another terror case from November 2015 showed that four men, who were former OSU students and attended Masjid Omar were charged with conspiring to send thousands of dollars to al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki between 2007 and 2009. Two were arrested and the other pair left the country.
The terrorist Carlos Bledsoe who attacked a Little Rock, Arkansas, Army recruiting center in June 2009 and murdered Army Pvt. Andy Long during the assault attended Masjid Omar between 2006 and 2007.
Just one day following the Little Rock attack, OSU student Rachel Decker was brutally attacked by another Masjid Omar attendee. Wael Kalash approached Decker at a bus stop and stabbed her in the stomach with a large knife. Kalesh was later found at the mosque.
Dr. Salah Soltan, presently in prison and under a death sentence as a result of terrorism charges from Egypt, was a resident Islamic scholar for the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus (ISGC), the parent organization of Masjid Omar, Poole notes.