Minneapolis Muslim Cleric Hate

Public-school imam: 'We could just kill you'

Witness affidavits say Muslim leader tried to 'incite violence' against critics

March 09, 2010

A former administrative assistant for a publicly funded school in Minnesota located in the same building as a Muslim mosque and run by a Muslim imam stated in legal documents that the school director told her, "We could just kill you, yeah tell your husband we'll do his job for him."

Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, or TiZA, in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., which also shares space in a building with the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society, came under state investigation after multiple reports by columnist Katherine Kersten.

The charter school for kindergarten through eighth grade is run by executive director Asad Zaman, a Muslim religious leader, and shares space in a building with a mosque and MAS. In the school, there are daily breaks for prayer, halal food is served in its cafeteria and Arabic study is mandatory, Kersten said in a 2008 report. School buses do not take students home until after-school Muslim classes are completed.

A state investigation focused on the Friday prayer events, 30 minutes long and at that time led by adults in the school. The state found the events violated the law and sought changes.

Now the academy is embroiled in a legal battle with the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota. Last year, the ACLU filed a federal suit claiming the school impermissibly promotes religion.

According to Kersten's most recent report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, former administrative assistant Janeha Edwards said in an affadvait that she saw "no real distinction" between the operations of the school and the Muslim American Society.

For years, "I watched [school officials] lash out in order to control those around them, and to retaliate against anyone who spoke poorly of the school, or otherwise challenged their authority," she said.

According to the affidavit, Zaman suggested "we could just kill you" after becoming upset when Edwards "challeng[ed] his authority."

Zaman claimed in an affidavit he has no recollection of making such a statement.

Likewise, Khalid Elmasry, father of a former student at Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, claims in affidavits that after he criticized the school, the executive director made a statement at a parent meeting that appeared to be "an attempt to incite violence against me and my family."

The ACLU sought a witness protective order in January, telling the court the academy's intimidation was keeping potential witnesses from testifying. Kersten reports that the court barred witness harassment or intimidation by either party Feb. 10.

Elmasry sought witness protection because he testified about the school's financial dealings with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota at a Minnesota Senate subcommittee hearing on charter school lease aid in January. Later, Elmasry said a friend and parent of a student at the school told him the school administration called a parent meeting and showed a video of Elmasry's testimony. Elmasry's friend said Zaman accused Elmasry of talking to the Minnesota Department of Education and "selling" his "iman," or his Islamic faith.

In the affidavit, Elmasry explains he was frightened.

"It is well-known in Islam that a Muslim who rejects his or her faith is committing an act punishable by death," he said. "There are many accounts

of Muslims taking matters into their own hands and killing people they believe have sold or rejected their Islamic faith or Iman."

Kersten reports Elmasry said he was worried because "the overwhelming majority of TiZA's enrollment is Somali, living in a community that has been troubled with many acts of random violence. I am concerned that Zaman could be exploiting this fact in the hope that word will reach a radical or unstable individual or group within the Twin Cities Muslim community that a Muslim has sold his Iman and is trying to shut down a Muslim school that serves Somalis."

According to court documents, the school denies having made any threats.

"Even if the Court accepts the comment alleged by Elmasry," the school explains, "such remarks have significance only when issued by a proper Islamic judge, of which Elmasry and Zaman are not."

WND reported earlier when members of a TV news crew were attacked while investigating the school's actions.

There also were reports when a substitute teacher at the school said religion appeared to be a significant educational focus. Amanda Getz said her duties included taking students to the bathroom, four at a time, to perform "their ritual washing." She said teachers also "led the kids into the gym, where a man dressed in white with a white cap, who had been at the school all day" led prayer. 


Attorney defends Minneapolis mosque against rumored link to Somali fighters

Mahir Sherif, representing a large Islamic center, defended the institution and its imam, saying it is not a political organization and has not sent young men to Somalia.

By CHAO XIONG, Star Tribune

Last update: December 8, 2008

Sheikh Imam Abdirahman Ahmed led thousands of worshipers in prayer Monday at the Minneapolis Convention Center, his deep voice echoing through a cavernous room as a mostly Somali group bowed low, intoning in return.

After more than an hour of prayer for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, Ahmed sat stock still and speechless as his attorney rebuffed rumors that his mosque, the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center in the Cedar-Riverside area, is possibly connected to a dozen young men's disappearances.

Before about 8,000 worshipers and journalists, Mahir Sherif deflected blame from the mosque while carefully treading neutral ground, neither admitting or denying rumors that young Somali men are returning to fight in a homeland torn by civil war.

"I have no reason to substantiate it," Sherif said of the rumors. "I have no reason to dispute it."

The mosque has not recruited any men to fight in Somalia and is not a political organization, he said. Some family members have said young male relatives have disappeared only to call and say they were safe and somewhere in Somalia. Some of those young men reportedly attended Abubakar As-Saddique.

Ahmed and a mosque youth coordinator were barred Nov. 29 from boarding a plane to Saudi Arabia for a spiritual pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. Sherif said he is trying to get Ahmed off a no-fly list.

Sherif said some families have "come to us" to report young men missing, but that he hasn't spoken to any of those youths. Sherif noted that the Internet is a more powerful recruiting tool than a mosque and that the young men's circle of influence did not start and stop with the mosque.

The men's connection with Abubakar As-Saddique is more a given than the exception, he said, given the mosque's size and long history in the Somali community. "That does not mean the center is recruiting or indoctrinating any of this stuff."

Sherif said mosque leaders sympathized with the families. "We encourage other parents who may suspect their children of having similar plans to seek professional help," he said. "Should they seek our help, we are here to do whatever we can."

However, a local Somali journalist said that some family members of missing men have been unable to get an audience with Ahmed. At a news conference Saturday, those families talked about three men ages 17, 18 and 19 who have been missing since Nov. 4.

Shirwa Ahmed of Minneapolis is believed to have blown himself up in Somalia in October. The FBI won't confirm his death but confirmed returning a body from Somalia to Minneapolis. Ahmed was buried in Burnsville last week.

On Monday, worshipers were handed a prewritten letter expressing concern about the airport incident, along with mailing addresses and phone numbers for Minnesota politicians and state Attorney General Lori Swanson.

The FBI has not explicitly informed the mosque that it is part of an investigation, although it has said Ahmed cannot fly, Sherif said.

FBI spokesman E.K. Wilson has said the agency knows of young Somali men from across the United States going to Somalia. The agency hasn't confirmed that there is an investigation into why the men are leaving. Reached Monday, Wilson had no information.

The mood was tense as thousands of worshipers departed. "The last few weeks have been a mess for the Somali community," said Murshid Barud.