Attorney Targets Alleged Terror Ties in Case of Runaway Girl
Monday, August 31, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller
A 17-year-old girl who fled to Florida after converting from Islam to Christianity will be in "clear and present danger" if returned to Ohio due to her parent's affiliation with an Islamic cultural center, her attorney claims.
In a 35-page memorandum filed Monday in Orange County family court, attorney John Stemberger claims Fathima Rifqa Bary, who will remain in foster care in Florida at least until a hearing on Thursday, should not be returned to the custody of her parents, Mohamed and Aysha Bary, because of their connection to the Noor Islamic Cultural Center near Columbus, Ohio.
"The leader of the mosque, Dr. Hany Saqr, was previously an imam for another area mosque at the same time the largest known Al Qaeda cell in the U.S. since 9/11 was operating out of the mosque," the document read. "Additionally, Dr. Saqr was identified in exhibits submitted by the Department of Justice in a recent terrorism finance trial in Texas as being one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America — an international organization responsible for birthing virtually every Islamic terrorist organization in the world, including Al Qaeda."
The center also is affiliated with Dr. Salah Sultan, a "cleric alleged photographed with terrorist leaders designated as such by the U.S. government," according to the document, and frequently hosts "extremist speakers" who have allegedly made statements supporting violence and terrorism.
Stemberger also claims the Noor Center has been "directly tied" to an ongoing probe into Somali-American youths who fled the U.S. to train in terror camps operated by the Al Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab terror organization.
Stemberger, who is seeking to obtain residence for Bary in Florida, says the claims made in his memorandum is not "a case" against Islam.
"The vast majority of Muslims in this country are peaceful and law-abiding citizens," Stemberger said Monday. "Her family are members of this mosque … That's the problem."
Stemberger claims the girl's parents are undoubtedly influenced by teachings at the cultural center. If returned to Ohio, as her parents are seeking, it's just a matter of time "until she slips away in the night," he said.
Attempts by FOXNews.com to reach Hany and attorneys for the Noor Islamic Cultural Center before publication were not successful. Hany has denied all the allegations in the court filings, the Associated Press reports.
Shayan Elahi, an attorney for Rifqa's father, declined to comment when reached by FOXNews.com because he had yet to read the documents.
In a separate brief, Fathima Rifqa Bary — who moved with her family from Sri Lanka to Queens, N.Y., in 2000, and later to Gahanna, Ohio, in 2004 — claims her father selected the cultural center despite eight other mosques that were closer to their home.
"My father was very intent on making sure that his children, and especially me, were raised deeply in the faith of 'Original Islam' which was taught at the Noor Center," an affidavit filed Monday read. "Our family attended the Noor Center gatherings as much [sic] our schedules would allow."
The 17-year-old girl said she became a Christian in November 2005 while at the Korean United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio.
"I hid my Christian faith from my parents as best as I could and had to sneak around to attend Christian campus meetings," the affidavit continued. "I also hid my Bible at home in various locations."
In 2007, after finding the Christian book "Purpose Driven Life," Rifqa claimed her father had a "serious discussion" about the importance of retaining her Muslim faith and Islamic blood line. Later, in 2009, Rifqa claims her father confronted her about whether she had become a Christian.
"Then my father told me that he received numerous e-mails and phone calls from the leaders of the Noor Center community who informed him that he need to deal with this matter immediately," the affidavit continues.
Bary also claims her father threatened to kill and disavow her and that her mother threatened to have her "sent back to Sri Lanka to be dealt with" when she discovered another Christian book in her bedroom on July 17.
Filing in Rifqa Bary case claims ‘extensive evidence’ of Islamic extremism
Judge rules teen to remain in Florida, sets Sept. 29 hearing
By JAMES A. SMITH SR.
Florida Baptist Witness
Published September 3, 2009
ORLANDO (FBW) – Citing “extensive evidence” of dangerous ideology promoted by her family’s mosque, the attorney for the Ohio teen who fled to Florida for fear of her life has filed an “Investigation and Intelligence Memorandum” arguing Rifqa Bary should be declared a dependent of the State of Florida.
John Stemberger, an Orlando attorney and well-known pro-family activist, held an Aug. 31 telephone news conference to announce the new filing.
“The primary issue in this case is the clear and present danger that is presented” by the Bary family’s participation in a mosque associated with extremist Islamic elements, Stemberger said during the news conference.
The filing urges Orange County’s Ninth Judicial Circuit Court to “recognize the inherent danger in allowing Rifqa Bary to return to her parent’s apartment or disrupting her current stable placement with a licensed foster home in Florida.”
In a Sept. 3 hearing, Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson ruled Bary will remain in Florida for now and set Sept. 29 for the next hearing about the matter.
According to Orlando Sentinel, Dawson also sealed a report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigating the alleged threats against Bary and issued a “gag order,” forbidding the attorneys from speaking with the news media.
Bary, 17, converted from Islam to Christianity nearly four years ago, but kept her new faith hidden from her Muslim parents, according to her affidavit, filed with the memorandum.
“I hid my Christian faith from my parents as best as I could and had to sneak around to attend Christian campus meetings. I also hid my Bible at home in various locations,” Bary said in the affidavit.
Bary said in 2007 her father discovered a copy of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, hidden in her bedroom.
“My father had a serious talk with me about the importance of retaining the Islamic blood line in my family but I did not tell him about my conversion,” the teen said.
Bary said she was confronted in June 2009 by her father with questions about whether she had become a Christian. “Out of fear, I remained silent,” she said.
Claiming her father received e-mail and phone calls from leaders of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center, the family mosque in Columbus, insisting he “needed to deal with this matter immediately,” Bary said she was threatened.
“In a fit of anger that I had never seen before in my life, he picked up my lap top, waived it over my head as if to strike me with it and said, ‘If you have this Jesus in your heart, you are dead to me! You are no longer my daughter.’ I continued to remain silent and then he said to me even more angry than before, ‘I will kill you! Tell me the truth!’”
In July, according to Bary, her mother found another Christian book she hid in her bedroom.
“She was very upset, in tears, and almost grieving and told me I was going to have to be sent back to Sri Lanka to be dealt with,” Bary said in her affidavit.
In the 35-page filing, Stemberger notes the Bary family are “devoted members and followers of the leaders” of the Noor Center.
The memorandum offers “extensive documentation establishing ties” the Noor Center has with “terrorist groups and the extreme danger this presents to the minor.”
Stemberger asserts, “As this facility is the spiritual home and directly connected to the Bary family’s daily and weekly life … concerns about the mosque’s leadership and ideology are critical to understanding the potential threat to Rifqa Bary” and to the matter of whether she should be declared a dependent of the state of Florida.
The memorandum outlines four “primary concerns” about the Noor Center:
--“The Noor Center CEO and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“The leader of the mosque, Dr. Hany Saqr, was previously an iman for another area mosque at the same time the largest known Al-Qaeda cell in the U.S. since 9/11 was operating out of the mosque,” Stemberger said. “Additionally, Dr. Saqr was identified in exhibits submitted by the Department of Justice in a recent terrorism finance trial in Texas as being one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America – an international organization responsible for birthing virtually every Islamic terrorist organization in the world, including Al-Qaeda.”
--“The Noor Center scholar and terrorist leaders.”
“A former Islamic scholar associated with the Noor Center is Dr. Salah Sultan, a cleric that has been photographed with terrorist leaders designated as such by the U.S. government. Dr. Sultan has recently appeared on television inciting violence against Jews, and he has previously appeared at events in support of designated terrorist organizations while an active part of the Noor Center community,” the memorandum continues.
--“The Noor Center and extremist speakers.”
“A number of extremist speakers have been featured at recent Noor Center events who are on record making statements in support of violence, terrorism and extremism. … One regular speaker and fundraiser for the Noor Center was listed by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial,” Stemberger asserts.
--“The Noor Center tied to nationwide FBI terror investigation.”
“The Noor Center has also been directly tied to the ongoing nationwide investigation into Somali-American youths who have left the U.S. to train in terror camps operated by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab terror organization.”
In an Aug. 27 interview with Florida Baptist Witness, former Muslim Ergun Mehmet Caner said “there’s no question” the threat to Rifqa is real.
Caner, who converted to Christianity as a 16-year-old in Columbus, Ohio, grew-up in the mosque, the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio, out of which the Bary family mosque was started and remains connected.
Now a Baptist minister and president of Liberty Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va., Caner is a well-known apologist for the Christian faith – activity for which a fatwa, an Islamic religious ruling calling for his death, was issued last year “that put us on the road for a while.”
Because of his outspoken repudiation of Islam and defense of Christianity, Caner said he has to take special security precautions.
Caner and his two brothers, who became Christians within 14 months of his conversion, were disowned by their father, who was the architect of their Columbus mosque.
The reality of “honor killings” – an obligation under Islamic law for those who reject Islam – is routine in Muslim nations.
According to World Net Daily, “The United Nations tabulates about 5,000 such ‘honor killings’ annually around the world, and they have been documented even in the United States.”
“This happens every single day,” Caner said, pointing to organizations like Voice of the Martyrs and International Christian Concern that report on Christian persecution.
“How tragic is it that the murder of someone solely for their conversion would be considered routine? But this is 1,300 years of Islamic history,” Caner said.
Caner said the conversion of a female – especially a minor – is particularly offensive under Islam because the “daughter carries the honor in the family.”
He noted under Sharia law, four witnesses are required to validate a rape claim. “Otherwise, she is put to death because she brought dishonor to the family.”
Caner compared the fate of returning Rifqa to her Columbus home to that of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of an international controversy in 2000 who was ultimately returned to his home country after a failed attempt to seek asylum in the U.S. on his behalf by Miami relatives.
“Take Elian Gonzalez and make the consequences exponentially worse. This isn’t a girl going back into Communism. This is sending a girl back to her death,” Caner said.
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