August 20, 2009
Extremist Ohio mosque becoming focus of Rifqa Bary custody dispute
Tomorrow afternoon, Rifqa Bary's fate will be in the hands of a Florida judge. Rifqa fled her Ohio home last month claiming that her father threatened to kill her for converting from Islam to Christianity. As I noted previously, all schools of Islamic law proscribe death for Islamic apostates. For that reason, Rifqa fled to Florida and ended up on the doorstep of a pastor she had met through Facebook. A judge has temporarily placed her with a foster family until the court determines whether she should be turned over to Ohio authorities, who have already stated their intention to send Rifqa back to her parents.
One of the central issues that Rifqa's attorney, John Stemberger, will be raising tomorrow is the extremist mosque that her parents attend - the Noor Islamic Cultural Center. As Stemberger argued in a petition with the court submitted earlier this week, the extremism of the Noor mosque, its direct links with designated terrorists, and the overall extremism of the Islamic community in Central Ohio pose a direct threat to Rifqa if she is returned:
The child's parents are devout followers of Islam and members of the extreme Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Columbus, Ohio. This is where the internationally known Hama cleric, Salah Sultan, was the resident scholar before being banned from the United States. Salah Sultan is known as a global terrorist who publicly advocates the killing of Americans and Jews. The largest cell of Al Qaeda operatives was operating from the largest mosque in the Columbus area. Columbus is one of the cities under current investigation concerning the U.S. operations of Al-Qaeda. The child is a target for the radical Muslim community of Columbus, Ohio.
Nearly two years ago, investigative reporter Erick Stakelbeck went to Columbus to examine the Noor Center's ties to terrorism and the mosque's resident scholar, international Hamas cleric Salah Sultan:
Then this past December Sultan appeared on Egyptian Al-Nas TV pontificating on the eventual murder of all the Jews, the forthcoming destruction of America, and citing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as one of his authorities:
Predictably, as initial reports of Sultan's extremism were made public in 2006, the local paper, the Columbus Dispatch, came out defending Sultan and the Islamic school where he had been religious director. Just days after the Dispatch came out in support of Sultan, he appeared on Al-Risala TV claiming that the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks and praising Yemeni Al-Qaeda cleric and designated terrorist Abdul Majid al-Zindani:
Needless to say, the Dispatch did not see fit to revise or correct its reporting. It bears worth repeating that Salah Sultan was the resident scholar of the mosque Rifqa Bary's parents attend, though he has since fled the country and is now living in Bahrain. This is the atmosphere that Rifqa will be returning to if the Florida judge orders her return to Ohio. Let's hope the judge does the right thing in this case. The hearing is scheduled for 3:15 EDT tomorrow. More background on the Noor Center, Salah Sultan, and the Columbus Al-Qaeda cell can be found at the Central Ohioans Against Terrorism blog.