If Philadelphia is a terrorist haven, what is there to apologize for? “Police brass clash at mosque sit-down: The commissioner apologized for a chief inspector’s view that Phila. is a terrorist haven, but the chief inspector didn’t budge,” from the Philadephia Inquirer, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
The head of the Philadelphia Police Department’s counterterrorism unit is standing by his assertion that the city is a hideout for terrorists.
His boss, Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson, apologized for him and contradicted him during a lunch yesterday with bemused and offended Arab Americans and Muslims at the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the edge of Northern Liberties.
But Chief Inspector Joseph E. O’Connor would not take back the comment he made after the London transit bombings that Philadelphia is “notorious for fund-raising and recruitment” by terrorist organizations.
“I do know they recruited at a mosque,” said O’Connor yesterday, referring to the London bombers. “I’m not saying that it’s happening here… . I don’t know.”
“It’s not happening here,” Marwan Kreidie, head of the Arab American Development Corp., a community organization, told him.
“It could,” O’Connor shot back.
When pressed, he could not provide any details to back up his assertion that the city is a terrorist haven.
Johnson, sitting beside O’Connor at a lunch intended to mend fences at the Germantown Avenue mosque, jumped in to say that O’Connor’s position is not that of the Philadelphia Police Department.
“We do not feel that way, and that’s coming from me as police commissioner,” Johnson said. “Joe O’Connor has his own opinions.
“There’s nothing that would indicate there’s a problem with the Muslim community collecting money for or harboring people who are extreme Muslims,” he said. “No one at the FBI has ever said those things to me, and as far as I know, they don’t feel the same way, either.”
O’Connor, former commander of the department’s elite SWAT team, was suspended for 10 days and passed up for promotion in 2002 after he failed to report an accident involving his command car in 2000. He was finally promoted and transferred to the antiterrorism unit in 2003.
“I never meant to offend anybody in the Islamic community,” O’Connor said yesterday after the meeting with mosque and community leaders. “I was surprised they were offended. I was kind of taken aback they were not more offended by the attacks” in London. On July 7, bombers detonated explosives in three Underground stations and aboard a bus, killing 52 other people; two weeks later, attackers failed in attempts to bomb four transit targets.