A couple of weeks ago Kathy, my fellow alumna of New York’s High School of Music and Art (renamed the LaGuardia High School for the Arts), sent me an update on a column I devoted (some two years back) to our much-belated reunion. The next day roughly the same information appeared in The Jerusalem Post, datelined Miramar, Florida. A quick Google showed it was widely reported.
The gist was that Adnan el-Shukrijumah has apparently become al-Qaida’s new head of global operations, in charge of plotting new attacks. This promotion puts him in direct contact with Osama bin Laden. This is the highest any American ever rose in al-Qaida ranks.
How does this pertain to Kathy? Shukrijumah was her neighbor, but no one would heed her warnings in real time.
Indeed, even after Shukrijumah went on the lam, she tried almost desperately to convince me that something bad was happening next door to the house which generations of Kathy’s Irish family had occupied since it was built in 1912.
Eventually, it was passed down to her. She and her husband raised three kids in the same two-story, redbrick dwelling on a leafy, cozy and quiet Brooklyn residential street. Both Kathy and her father grew up there and neither knew any other home. Their story wasn’t unique among the house-proud Irish of that neighborhood, where property tended to stay in the family and where things never changed too radically.
But no more. Not only are Kathy’s sons and daughter no longer nearby, but she describes them as having “escaped.”
Kathy’s birthplace is now a mini-Pakistan/Bangladesh, replete with bearded men sporting all manner of Muslim headgear and long flowing tunics, as well as heavily swathed women, some even veiled.
The corner of Kathy’s block is dominated by an oversized green sign, identifying the low-slung building beneath it as Masjid Nur al-Islam (the Light of Islam Mosque) and announcing that “only Allah is worthy of worship and Muhammad is his LAST prophet.”
Christians are urged to “turn to the Koran” if they are “genuinely faithful to Jesus.”
Like the few remaining non-Muslim homes on the street, Kathy’s is distinguished by a huge American flag that flutters demonstratively in the manicured front yard, accompanied by a large cross on the door and an assortment of patriotic/jingoistic banners. According to Kathy’s apologetics at the time, “making a statement is about all we can do. They aren’t delighted to see our flag wave. This is enemy territory.”
She felt besieged and, to prove she wasn’t paranoid, Kathy began amassing a dossier on the masjid, the imam who ran it and his followers. She insisted they weren’t innocent practitioners of American religious freedom.
She smelled something sinister, yet was painfully aware that she would be branded either unhinged or bigoted.
Her research, however, seems to indicate otherwise.
UNTIL THE mid-1990s, Masjid Nur al-Islam’s imam was the late Egyptian-educated Gulshair el-Shukrijumah, who later relocated to Florida. He was initially dispatched by the Saudis as a Wahhabi missionary in 1985 and financed by them thereafter. His disciple Clement Rodney Hampton- El, an explosives specialist, possibly helped assemble the bomb detonated in the 1993 World Trade Center attack. He was convicted of plotting to blow up the UN, FBI headquarters and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels.
Gulshair acted as interpreter for Omar Abdel-Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh” now serving life for the first WTC bombing, conspiring to use explosives at other NYC landmarks and colluding to assassinate US politicians.
Nabbed mastermind of the 9/11 plot, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, fingered Gulshair’s eldest son, Saudi-born Adnan, as having been designated by al-Qaida and personally vetted by Bin Laden to lead new terror assaults and serve as successor to 9/11 pilot Mohammed Atta, with whom Adnan was connected.
The FBI now deduces that Adnan had taken over Mohammed’s position, designing and approving terror plots as well as screening new recruits. After two other top confederates were killed, the terrorist who grew in Brooklyn became Mohammed’s sole de facto successor.
Adnan received flight training and is dubbed “Jaffar the pilot.” He was likewise linked to “Dirty Bomber” Jose Padilla, Hamas and al-Qaida fund-raiser Adham Hassoun and terrorist Imran Mandhai (convicted of conspiring to bomb the National Guard armory, South Florida electrical substations, Jewish-owned businesses and community centers and Mount Rushmore).
Criminal charges were filed against Adnan. He was named in a federal indictment as conspirator in the plot to bomb New York’s subways in 2009. In the framework of a worldwide manhunt, the FBI offers $5 million for information leading to the capture of Kathy’s ex-neighbor.
Adnan’s brother Nabil, incidentally, uploaded to his Web page an image of Jerusalem ablaze with the caption: “Al Kuds, we are coming.”
None of this serves to persuade our uniformly ultra-liberal chums from yesteryear’s M&A that Kathy’s misgivings were warranted. Former classmates and friends see her as irremediably politically incorrect, on the wrong side of the argument, if not altogether a reprehensible Islamophobe enemy of human rights and of the hallowed ACLU way.
THE FACT that she now vehemently opposes the construction of the Cordoba House mosque/Muslim center, a hop and a skip from Ground Zero, hasn’t added to her popularity.
“It’s very déjà vu, except that the proportions and the gall are enormously more colossal neat the Manhattan landmark. In our case there was no outcry. Nobody paid attention to a no-account commercial property in a forgotten section of middle-class Brooklyn. The high-and-mighty didn’t care that it was overtaken by extreme Islamists.
“Our lives were turned upside down. The newcomers weren’t required to integrate and show sensitivity to the natives. Live-and-let-live didn’t apply to them.
“For years the mosque had been calling the faithful to prayers via rooftop loudspeakers five times daily – including pre-dawn,” Kathy recounts. “When we complained, the authorities regarded us, not them, as the disruptive element.”
Everything was couched in terms of freedom of worship.
Kathy and her neighbors argued that “this isn’t about civil rights. Something was going on there, but no one listened until it was too late.”
For Kathy the projected Muslim complex at 45-51 Park Place is “another installment in the same sad saga – again fraudulently couched in religious-freedom gobbledygook.”
Kathy is leery of the imam behind the Cordoba House plans, Feisal Abdul Rauf, who speaks of a “Shari’a- compliant America.”
After 9/11 Rauf opined that “the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened… In the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.”
Pointedly, Rauf refused to describe Hamas as a terrorist organization.
“What message does using the name Cordoba send?” asks Kathy. “The first city conquered by Muslims in Spain conjures visions of Muslim expansionism, triumph and gloating. It’s like turning Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia into a mosque, like constructing mosques on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, like blowing up majestic Buddhist statues in Afghanistan. The issue isn’t our tolerance but their intolerance.”