The FBI is trying to draw a difficult line between protected free speech and actual support for terror.
CounterJihad, by Bruce Cornibe, Oct.4, 2016:
America is well-known for its advancement of freedom and democracy but in an environment where the threat of terrorism is a real and present danger Americans are often faced with the struggle between liberty or security. A recent New York Times article called Extremist Imam Tests F.B.I. and the Limits of the Law touches upon how Imam Suleiman Anwar Bengharsa has been making authorities question the boundaries of this dilemma. Despite, Bengharsa allegedly telling Muslims that they “must strictly follow the shariah, or Islamic law, no matter where they live[,]” according to the Times – one can arguably say that he has went so far as to have caused incitement to violence/terrorism. They report on how Bengharsa has supported ISIS via social media:
But in the last two years, Imam Bengharsa’s public pronouncements have taken a dark turn. On Facebook, he has openly endorsed the Islamic State, posted gruesome videos showing ISIS fighters beheading and burning alive their enemies and praised terrorist attacks overseas.
Could one imagine if a Christian pastor endorsed a terrorist group and posted scenes of their grisly murders online – a group that is dedicated to destroying the U.S. and the rest of the West? There would be widespread outrage. Apparently, one saying that they support ISIS isn’t a crime in and of itself according to FBI director Comey, who has stated, “It’s even protected speech to say I’m a fan of the Islamic State so-called[.]” However, with Bengharsa there seems to be a trend of radical associations. In one case he actually gave money ($1,300check) to a Muslim convert in Detroit, Sebastian Gregerson or Abdurrahaman Bin Mikaayl, who has compiled of a number of deadly weapons – including explosives (grenades). It is possible that Gregerson may have been under the inspiration of former Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki – because when the FBI went into Gregerson’s home they discoveredCDs labeled “Anwar al-Awlaki[.]” The FBI also had suspicions that Bengharsa and Gregerson were possibly involved in the scheming of a terror attack:
Nearly a year ago, in fact, the F.B.I. said in a court filing — accidentally and temporarily made public in an online database — that agents suspected the two men were plotting terrorism. “Based on the totality of the aforementioned information and evidence, there is reason to believe that Bengharsa and Gregerson are engaged in discussions and preparations for some violent act on behalf of” the Islamic State, an agent wrote.
Supposedly, there’s “no proof that he [Bengharsa] knew Mr. Gregerson planned to buy illegal explosives.” The Times piece notesthat in Bengharsa’s checkbook he put “zakat” (charity) in reference to the $1,300 check. We have seen before how zakat funding has made its way to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. In fact, some authoritative Islamic texts on Islamic jurisprudence such as The Reliance of the Traveler, A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law reveal that jihadists are one of the recipients of zakat. In this particular book there are eight types of zakat recipients – the seventh category includes:
THOSE FIGHTING FOR ALLAH
The seventh category is those fighting for Allah, meaning people engaged in Islamic military operations for whom no salary has been allotted in the army roster (O: but who are volunteers for jihad without remuneration). They are given enough to suffice them for the operation, even if affluent; of weapons, mounts, clothing, and expenses (O: for the duration of the journey, round trip, and the time they spend there, even if prolonged. Though nothing has been mentioned here of the expense involved in supporting such people’s families during this period, it seems clear that they should also be given it).
The Times article also leaves room for a possible connection between Bengharsa and the radical Yusuf Wehelie. Apparently, in 2010 Wehelie and his brother were halted in Cairo from returning back to the U.S. by the FBI. Of course, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Hamas linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) complained – CAIR still has a sympathetic letter from Yusuf Wehelie on its website attached here. Wehelie was so radical that:
At Yusuf Wehelie’s detention hearing in July, the authorities said he had told undercover agents that he supported the Islamic State and that if he couldn’t join it overseas, he would attack a military recruiting center, possibly using explosives. (Mr. Wehelie’s lawyer, Nina Ginsberg, said that in later recorded conversations, he disavowed those statements and later stopped replying to the undercover agents.)
It’s no surprise that CAIR would support a jihadist – knowing how the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated organization is unwavering in their commitment to “civilization jihad” which seeks “to subvert our society from within using the very freedoms they will then take away.” Jihadists and Islamists may use different tactics but they basically have the same goals.
There might also be a possible connection between Bengharsa and Maalik Alim Jones. According to The Washington Times, Jones was accused of providing “material support to al Shabaab and the receipt of military-type training from the terrorist group[,]” among other things. Apparently, Jones went to a Baltimore mosque where Bengharsa sometimes preached. In addition to everything mentioned above, Bengharsa allegedly “transferred money three times to an unnamed person in Yemen[,]” and “received $902,710 in wire transfers in 2014 and 2015, possibly an inheritance.” Furthermore, a couple of Bengharsa’s social media posts shown below with commentary (gathered from the New York Times) capture the type of hatred and anti-American/Western rhetoric he espouses.
It’s disturbing to know that Bengharsa was a chaplain for several years in Maryland prisons likely contributing to the Muslim radicalization problem. It’s almost like these supporters of jihad have to directly call for a specific attack in order to be apprehended by authorities. If we keep allowing these jihadists to establish vast networks of contacts, while building up their arsenals we are only making it easier for the next jihadist to takeover and continue the jihadist agenda. We must allow our law enforcement to be able to do their job effectively in combating jihad.