It’s inevitable: every time there is a jihad plot, the mainstream media trots out its template for stories like this one: shocked (shocked!) neighbors explain that the accused was a decent fellow, the local mosque says that they hardly knew the guy, others explain that he wasn’t really all that much of a Muslim (despite abundant evidence to the contrary in this case), and Muslims wring their hands about “Islamophobia” and an impending backlash against innocent Muslims that never ever actually materializes.
And so here we go again.
“Shock, Anguish Uptown as Neighborhood Reacts to Terrorism Arrest,” by Lucy Pawle for The Uptowner, November 21:
[...] Harlem and Washington Heights neighbors who knew Pimentel, reportedly under police surveillance since 2009, said he spent his days sitting alone outside the apartment building, smoking cigarettes.
“He seemed nice,” said Simon Islam, 36, who moved into the building five months ago with his wife and daughters. “He used to talk to everyone when they came in and out the building, but he was very quiet. He just used to smoke,” Islam said.
Juan Rey, whose mother lives in the building, described Pimentel as “a nice guy who used to open the door for people when they were carrying their groceries.”
David Rodriguez, who”d known Pimentel for a year, said he “never saw the look of terrorism in him.” Expressing astonishment at the arrest, he said Pimentel “could have blown the whole building up and no one would have known” that he was the bomber. “His own grandmother wouldn”t know.” He described Pimentel as a regular guy in sweatpants and sweaters. “I never saw him praying; he wore regular clothes,” Rodriguez said. “I just can”t believe it.”
Pimentel sometimes welcomed Islam with “As-Salamu Alaykum” ““ a traditional Muslim greeting ““ and had explained to him how he”d converted to Islam from Catholicism. “He said he converted six or seven years ago,” Islam said. “Once I was drinking here with friends and cousins, and he pointed and said, “˜No, no. It”s not good.”"
But around the corner at Nadal1Deli, employee Mohammed “Alex” Alohdd pointed out that Pimentel didn”t fast during Ramadan. “He called himself a Muslim, but he wasn”t a proper Muslim,” Alohddi said. “I”ve known him for three years but I didn”t like him that much. I just didn”t feel good with him. He used to ask people outside for cigarettes.”
At the Islamic Cultural Center of New York on East 96th Street, where Pimentel visited, according to his mother, Imam Omar Abu Namous echoed Aloddi”s sentiments. “These circumstances, that he used to come to this mosque, are only coincidences, and have no relationship whatsoever with his activities,” the imam said. He hadn”t heard of the arrest and didn”t recognize Pimentel”s name, but said that if Pimentel had confided in a fellow parishioner, “they would have informed me and I would have informed the government.”
Emphasizing his opposition to fundamentalist ideology, the imam described the Islamic Cultural Center as fostering peace. He worried that Pimentel”s arrest would spark Islamophobia. “People have a deep misunderstanding about Islam,” Abu Namous….
Indeed. Including, apparently, Pimentel (Muhammad Yusuf) himself. But Lucy Pawle did not think to ask Abu Namous what he was doing to make sure others in his mosque didn’t misunderstand Islam in the same way that Muhammad Yusuf did. Such a question would have been “Islamophobic.”