(Phoenix, AZ, March 17, 2016) We at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy commend the jury in the trial of Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, who had the fortitude and courage to deliver a guilty verdict in the first ISIS-related trial on U.S. soil. We know the hours of deliberation and the nature of the case must have been trying, and the burden of carrying out justice heavy. This is an example of our justice system doing its job and setting a strong example for those who might seek out a path like that pursued by Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem.
This case hit close to home for us at AIFD. When the news broke that the suspected gunmen and those who aided them had ties to Phoenix – and then when the names were released – AIFD’s own director of community engagement sprung into action: it turned out that two of the men involved – Elton Simpson and Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem – were familiar faces. Courtney Lonergan, also a convert to Islam, had years ago gone to local Muslim leadership with concerns about these men. While they were not yet expressing the wish to commit acts of violence, they were espousing radical rhetoric.
When Courtney raised her concerns, she was dismissed. This is unfortunately the case for many Muslims who go to their local Muslim leadership with such concerns. Worse is the way those Muslims who speak out are treated by the so-called leaders of our community: we are maligned and harassed, our detractors going so far as to harass our families and loved ones. Not even our children have been immune to harassment from Islamist groups like CAIR.
This guilty verdict is a step in the right direction, but it is not the solution to the problem. Now, Muslims and non-Muslims around the country must stand together to address all the factors that lead to radicalization: communities which marginalize certain groups, anti-Blackness in mosques and Muslim communities, the radically anti-Western rhetoric of some within our community, and the deep connection many in our faith community continue to share with Islamist groups and international funders with malignant intentions.
This verdict is vindication, but it is also a call to action – one we thank the jurors for declaring when they took the stand for justice and against terror. May we in the Muslim community, alongside our non-Muslim allies, make sure that their labor was not in vain.
About Dr. Zuhdi Jasser M.D.
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser is the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a think tank dedicated to protecting American national security against the global threat of Islamism. AIFD promotes reform-minded Muslim voices for liberty, and is shaking the hold which Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood have upon Muslim leadership. Dr. Jasser is the author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith. He is also a Co-Founder of the Muslim Reform Movement.
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