And oddly enough, while there he somehow never imbibed the True, Peaceful Teachings of Islam. “Terrorism Arrests: Mosque’s members, neighbors react,” by David Olson for the Press Enterprise, November 21:
A man who prayed at the same mosque as one of the Inland terrorism suspects arrested last week said he hoped Arifeen David Gojali is sent to jail if he really was plotting to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
“Muslim or not Muslim, he should go to jail” if he is guilty, said Gamal Atia, who has worshipped at Masjid al-Sabireen Cham American Muslim Community in downtown Pomona for 11 years.
Atia, 55, of Pomona, said he regularly saw Gojali pray at the mosque with his parents and brother.
“He’s a good person,” Atia said. “They’re nice people. I’d see him on Friday and in the evenings sometimes.”…
If Gojali is guilty, “I’m very, very sorry,” Atia said. “This is not our religion. Islam is a religion of peace.”
Atia said people shouldn’t blame Islam for the actions of a small number of extremists, just as all Christians shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of Timothy McVeigh, who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 and injuring more than 600. McVeigh was raised Catholic but before he was executed in 2001 identified as agnostic, according to news reports.
This is the usual boilerplate. It never discusses the fact that jihadis use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence, in a way that no one uses the texts and teachings of Christianity.
Atia said that if Gojali is guilty, people should focus on him as an individual, not as a Muslim.
“It’s not the religion,” he said. “It’s the people who are crazy.”
His comments echoed those by Inland Islamic leaders on Tuesday, who said they worried that the arrests of the four suspected terrorists would increase fear of Muslims. They condemned terrorist acts and said that if the men are guilty, they weren’t following Islamic teaching.
The men “” Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34, a former Pomona resident who had moved to Afghanistan; Ralph Deleon, 23, of Ontario; Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, 21, of Upland; and Gojali “” were arrested last week after an FBI investigation found they had been plotting to join the Taliban and al-Qaida and wanted to attack U.S. bases in Afghanistan….
The imam of the mosque, who Atia said he knows only as Imam Kassem, is from Cambodia or Vietnam. He’s been gone for about three weeks, apparently for a trip to Southeast Asia, Atia said….
The tan-and-cream-colored building does not have a sign identifying it as a mosque. The only indications it is an Islamic center are a parking lot sign that says, “For Imam Parking Only” in front of a space near the entrance doors, and Arabic writing in a side window.
Melkus has been in the neighborhood almost every weekday morning over the past four years to auction properties at the nearby Los Angeles County courthouse.
He said he’s never noticed anyone enter or leave the building.
Mike Bee, who also works at the courthouse almost every weekday morning and parks near the mosque, said the arrest of Gojali worries him.
“I’ll probably be more cautious,” said Bee, 47, of Los Angeles. “There could be terrorists in there. This just gives me a reason to believe there are more of them out there, for sure.”
Maria Gonzalez, whose morning walk takes her past the mosque every day , said she typically sees about eight people milling about before or after the dawn prayers.
Gonazalez [sic], 58, said in Spanish that she and her neighbors had long been nervous of seeing men in Islamic skullcaps at the mosque.
“We were afraid,” she said. “I thought they might be terrorists.”
Now that she knows a mosque worshipper was arrested on terrorism, she’s even more nervous.
“You can’t tell who it is who wants to kill people,” she said….
Stephanie Reyes, 24, who lives about two blocks from the mosque, said she was never worried about extremists at the Islamic center “” until now.