Muslim clerics are threatening the lives of Jews from the pulpits of American mosques, and they are doing it with virtual impunity, say former US law-enforcement officials who worry that the rhetoric could lead to violent attacks.
Over the past six months, at least five prominent US imams have been caught on tape preaching violence against Jews in sermons at mosques across America.
Yet these radical preachers inciting anti-Semitic violence aren’t prosecuted or even permanently banished by the leadership of their mosques.
“It’s outrageous they aren’t immediately removed and investigated for what may be solicitation [to commit a crime of violence],” was the view of veteran FBI Special Agent John Guandolo, who now runs a counterterrorism consulting firm, Understanding the Threat LLC.
Jewish people already are disproportionately targeted for hate crimes in America, but recent sermons could fan the flames of anti-Semitism. In November, the FBI released new data showing there were more Jewish victims of anti-religious hate crimes in 2016 (the last reported year) than victims of all other religious groups combined.
Terrorism analysts expect threats and assaults against Jews to only increase as the US prepares to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem next year. On Dec. 6, President Trump for the first time formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, triggering widespread protests in the Muslim world. In a new video, al Qaeda called on Muslims “everywhere” to rise up and kill Jews and Americans in response to the historic decision.
Many American Muslims are hearing a similarly evil sentiment each Friday at their places of worship.
- Last month, for example, Imam Raed Saleh Al-Rousan of Houston preached Muslims should “fight the Jews” in the wake of Trump’s decision. After a videotaped excerpt of his lecture was translated from Arabic by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute and posted online, the imam apologized and insisted he’s opposed to “all forms of terrorism.”
- Speaking on the same day, Imam Abdullah Khadra of Raleigh, NC, invoked the same Jew-killing hadith (a collection of the sayings of Muhammad), saying the Muslim prophet “gave us the glad tidings that we will fight those Jews until the rocks and the trees will speak: ‘Oh Muslim, this is a Jew behind me,” according to MEMRI.
- Also last month, Sheikh Ramadan Elsabagh of Garland, Texas, posted a recorded prayer on his Facebook page calling for Israel’s destruction: “Oh Allah, destroy the Zionists and their allies,” according to a translation by Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism. His sermon reportedly drew several comments of “amen, amen.”
- On Dec. 8, New Jersey Imam Aymen Elkasaby invoked “martyrdom” as a means to take revenge on the Jews, whom he called “apes and pigs.” He then prayed for their annihilation, eliciting cheers from the Muslim men attending his Jersey City mosque.
“Count them one by one, and kill them down to the very last one! Do not leave a single one on the face of the Earth,” the cleric angrily beseeched Allah, to which his flock could be heard crying, “Amen!” One man was so moved by the call to action, he stood up and invited the rest of the congregation to march on Times Square, according to MEMRI.
The Islamic Center of Jersey City said it suspended Elkasaby for one month without pay following his inflammatory sermon. Still, mosque president Ahmed Shaheed seemed to defend his actions by arguing, “There are extremists in the Jewish, Christian and Buddhist religions, and everything can be taken in the wrong way.”
- Last July, an imam at the Davis Islamic Center in Northern California preached Jews were contaminating Muslim shrines with their “filth” and called for their genocide. “Oh, Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one,” Imam Ammar Shahin fumed in his sermon, the Los Angeles Times reported. Shahin later apologized after a videotaped excerpt was translated, saying he let his emotions “cloud my better judgment.”
Terror experts say such hateful rhetoric is more common in US mosques than generally understood, and they blame the Obama administration’s gutting of mosque surveillance programs for the growing belligerence. The NYPD also ended its surveillance program in 2014 following complaints by Muslim groups.
Paul Sperry is a former Hoover Institution media fellow and author of the bestselling book, “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”