Welcome, Daniel Pipes readers, please sign our petition, we need sigs!, and go here for all my postings on the arrest of the two Boston imams.
First, an update on the petition to show support for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) folks here in Boston, especially in the face of ridicule and criticism by the local Muslim American Society and the ACLU. (Background to the petition is here.) Yesterday, I received an e-mail from a Muslim gentleman who wrote: "Many muslims from the ICNE community wanted to sign your petition but are afraid." ICNE stands for the Islamic Center of New England, and Hafiz Muhammed Masood, one of the two arrested imams, was the spiritual director of the ICNE's Sharon mosque.
What does it mean for our society that people are truly afraid - fearful of physical harm - to sign a petition, even in the People's Republic of Massachuestts? This is astonishing to me: Muslims who support the federal investigation into the immigration status of an imam are afraid to say that publicly. What has Mr. Masood got going on there in Sharon? Do Janet Penn of Interfaith Action and Rev. Fred Small of the Littleton Unitarian Church - interfaith supporters who wrote letters of support for the imam - realize that members of the ICNE are afraid to speak out against Masood? Rev. Small, do you still think that the fed's case against Masood is simply "a result of post-9/11 anti-Muslim bias and selective prosecution"?
Reporter Lane Lambert of the Quincy Patriot Ledger provides the best coverage and analysis of this case (unlike the Boston papers). Lambert's recent story provided details of the ICE case against Masood, specifically that Masood apparently did not leave the country for two years, as required by the religious visa (he originally entered the country in 1988 to study at B.U.). Mr. Masood has said that he returned to Pakistan in 1992 and 1993, as required. But the feds say otherwise, citing a parking ticket signed by Masood in 1992. A minor discrepancy? Perhaps, perhap not. We've already seen that there were discrepancies with Masood and his claim that he had a master's degree from B.U., This raises questions of Masood's honesty and trustworthiness, doesn't it?
Government attorney Richard Neville said "immigration agents opened their investigation of Imam Masood in 2004, when his name came up in connection with Imam Muhammad Khalil, who led a basement mosque in Brooklyn." More about Khalil here, he's also the connection to Imam Hafiz Abdul Hannan of the Islamic Society of Greater Lowell, the second imam arrested in Boston.
Back to Masood - He was in the news back in the spring of 2005, when there was something of "coup" at the Sharon Mosque, as reported here, "Struggle Over Local Mosque." Imam Talal Eid appeared to be pressured out of his leadership role at the Sharon mosque, and a more "conservative" (allegedly Salafist) group took control of the board of directors. The issue of Masood's visa irregularities was raised even back then:
"Two of Imam Eid's supporters on the board have resigned and two other Islamic Center members have filed a lawsuit against the board, claiming irregularities with last year's election and with visa documents for Imam Hafiz Masood, the spiritual leader at the Sharon mosque."
A very important story is unfolding in front of us here. Stay tuned!