If they’re successful in shuttering the mosque, organizers say they’d like to erect a memorial site “to honor all the lives that have been lost.”
CounterJihad, by Paul Sperry, June 23, 2016:
As FBI agents investigate a third male suspect at the nightclub terrorist’s mosque in Florida, neighbors complain the small Islamic center has become a hotbed for terrorist activity and have launched a petition drive to shut it down.
Many local residents say they feel afraid for their safety living near a mosque that has graduated two deadly terrorists in the past two years, and where federal investigators are now actively questioning additional worshipers in connection with long-time member Omar Mateen’s June 12 massacre in Orlando.
Close the Mosque organizers are planning to hold a large protest rally outside the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, but have run into difficulties obtaining permits from county government officials. Their movement has attracted more than 400 supporters. If they’re successful in shuttering the mosque, organizers say they’d like to erect a memorial site “to honor all the lives that have been lost.”
“The mosque leaders in Fort Pierce are complaining and scared for their lives after two killers came out of there,” wrote a local resident posting on the “Close the Mosque” Facebook page as Anthony Profeta. “Well, I got news for you: I’m scared your[sic] going to kill my kids, so pack up your things, close that mosque and leave town … your[sic] training future killers.”
Added Fort Pierce resident Joel Matt: “Time to shut that place down until further investigation is done.”
“Bulldozer that place,” another local remarked.
On Friday, two FBI agents met with an unidentified member of the Islamic center, a fellow worshiper of Mateen, for more than a half hour before Friday prayers started. I’m told investigators plan to interview more members of the mosque this week. Agents are following up on a lead from a gun store operator, who told authorities he overheard Mateen, an Afghan-American, speaking to a possible co-conspirator “in a foreign language” several weeks ago when Mateen came into his gun shop looking to buy body armor and bulk ammo.
About two years ago, agents paid leaders at the same Islamic center a visit to investigate the mosque’s ties to another worshiper, Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, who is believed to be the first American suicide bomber in Syria. Mateen prayed alongside Abu-Salha, who left his car in the mosque parking lot before flying to Syria.
The renewed focus on the mosque as a terrorism hub has neighbors spooked.
“How many people that attend your mosque are going to become radicalized before we have to ask what the f*** are you teaching in there?” a local resident identifying himself as Brad Mulcahy posted on the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce’s Facebook page.
Mateen, who was shot dead by police after shooting an unprecedented 102 innocent people, killing 49, at the gay Pulse club in Orlando, regularly attended the Islamic center for more than a dozen years, praying there up to four times a week. In fact, Mateen prayed at the mosque the night before his terrorist attack.
Mosque leaders deny that Mateen, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, was radicalized at the Islamic center; and they maintain that they did not interact with him and were unaware of any extremist religious or political views that he held.
The president and imam of the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, Dr. Syed Shafeeq Rahman, said it is merely “a coincidence” that two deadly terrorists prayed at his mosque.
“This is a coincidence,” he said. “There is no teaching given about extremism in this mosque.”
He claims the mosque has received death threats and has had to hire private security after the St. Lucie County sheriff’s office declined to provide a security detail. St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said his agency is limited by staffing and other security contracts.
The Islamic Center of Fort Pierce was founded in the 1990s to accommodate a growing number of Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who settled in the area famous for its orange groves in the 1970s after Democrat-sponsored federal legislation opened up U.S. immigration to such regions.
The Midway Road mosque was converted from an old Christian church. A sister mosque — The Islamic Center of Muslim Friends of Florida — operates in an abandoned building with no signage a little more than a mile away.
Thanks to immigration, the Muslim population has exploded across the state of Florida, allowing some of the 9/11 hijackers to blend in in nearby cities and take flight lessons before the 2001 attacks. Many terrorist cells remain secreted throughout the state, terrorism experts say.
“There are a lot of cells here in Florida, trust me,” former CIA case officer Bob Baer warned.