Queens Mosque Raided

From Sada-e-Pakistan

January 22, 2002

By Mohsin Zahee

New York - On Friday, January 4, the FBI and the Anti -Terrorist Task Force raided Masjid e Khizra mosque, in Queens, on a false tip of weapons possession.

The FBI received an anonymous tip that a few people planned to kill almost 400 people and hid dangerous weapons in the mosque. Federal agents, spy dogs and a bomb squad found nothing.

Masjid e Khizra is run by a nonprofit organization Idara Tableeg-ul-Islam, which was in the process of firing the mosque's imam, Mufti Abdul Rahman Qamar, when the FBI raided it. Sources suggest that supporters of Qamar provided the false tip, to cause trouble to Masjid e Khizra.

Federal agents took Khalil-ur-Rahman, a son of the imam, into custody and interrogated him. The FBI went to the Imam Qamar's house and raided the mosque, where they took four of the imam's sonsincluding one who was praying at the timeinto custody.

"All of a sudden the FBI guys entered into the mosque and handcuffed all of us, laid us down on the floor of the mosque and searched almost all the parts of the mosque," said Ateeq ur Rahman, one of the imam's sons who was arrested. "Meanwhile, the other team of FBI brought the imam to the mosque and federal agents interrogated all of us. After completing the search, the federal agents declared the mosque as well as the detainees clear, Rahman said. He also said that federal agents took all of the imam's sons to their home, searched portions of the house and checked their immigration status.

The FBI also interrogated other members of the mosque, including taxi driver Saeed Mahmood. Mosque member Altaf Rana explained the complicated roots of the disagreements between the factions.

The day after the raid, Imam Mufti Abdul Rahman Qamar left for Pakistan. His son, Ateeq, told this correspondent that his father left as previously scheduled, to see his mother who is seriously ill. After his father's departure, Ateeq served as the acting imam. Idara Tableeg-ul-Islam, the non-profit, recently appointed a new imam for the mosque.

The president of Idara Tableeg-ul-Islam, Ataf Hassan, and the secretary general Kausar Chishti denied any involvement with the FBI. They said at a press conference that the imam's services were terminated because he failed to respond to a legal notice served him and for leaving for Pakistan without prior permission of the Idara.

"A local newspaper has published that I provided false information to the FBI, so I want to make it clear that it's a totally baseless accusation," Chishti said. "I can't even imagine doing such a stupid thing."

 

(Translated from Urdu by Salma Sabir Chaudhry for The Independent Press Association)

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