Muslim group’s director condemns al-Qaida call for local attacks

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — An al-Qaida spokesman in a recently released propaganda video called for Muslims around Detroit and other Western metropolises to stage religiously motivated attacks.

“Immigrant communities such as those living on the margins of society in the miserable suburbs of Paris, London and Detroit,” said Adam Gadhan, known in al-Qaida circles as “Azzam the American.” “You have the opportunity to attack the heads of the infidels on their own soil as long as there is no alliance between you and them.”

Gadhan cited as an example the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting by U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hassan that killed 13 people and wounded 30 more. He also praised Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian national who tried to blow up an airplane flying into Detroit on Christmas Day.

The video, released Oct. 24, runs about 50 minutes and urges Muslims to carry out attacks against “Zionists and crusaders.” U.S. intelligence officials consider Gadhan to be one of al-Qaida’s top propagandists and have offered a $1 million bounty for information leading to the capture of the former California man.

Gadhan, 32, has appeared in numerous Islamic extremist videos since at least 2004 and possibly earlier. And in 2006, he became only the second person since World War II to be charged with treason.

While not specifically naming Dearborn in the video, it’s likely Gadhan had the city in mind when making the comments. With more than 30,000 of the city’s roughly 100,000 residents of Middle Eastern lineage and the majority of them Muslim, Dearborn has the highest per capita Muslim population in the United States.

Local Muslim leaders, who called the appeal “an act of desperation,” rebuked the video.

“The local Muslim community is not living in quote miserable conditions,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan, in an interview Friday. “They are civically engaged, they’re empowered, there’s a large amount of Muslim-owned businesses and Muslims freely express themselves in Dearborn and the rest of metro Detroit.

“What makes al-Qaida even more repugnant in the minds of mainstream Muslims is that the vast majority of their casualties are Muslims. Between 80 and 85 percent of the people they maimed and killed are Muslims.

“When al-Qaida members go into a mosque in Afghanistan or a marketplace in Pakistan and blow themselves up, those are Muslims they are killing.”

Walid also commented on Gadhan’s apparent lack of cognitive dissonance.

“Dearborn, to be more specific, is majority Shia Muslims, and al-Qaida considers Shias to be heretics,” said Walid, referencing al-Qaida’s Sunni creed. “The irony of al-Qaida’s statement in this recent video is that al-Qaida would most likely, in Muslim majority countries, target Muslims like the ones living in Dearborn. It just shows how irrational and delusional they are.”