Muslim Conference Leader Speaks Out
Not Clear If Accused Plotter Registered To Attend
May 22, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - The FBI stopped an alleged terror plot with a Philadelphia connection. You heard about it first Thursday on Fox 29 News at Noon.
An interfaith service has been held at one of the synagogues targeted in this alleged plot. And Jews attending Shabbat services and Muslims going to worship may see tighter security.
Whenever a plot of this nature is discovered, Muslim leaders say their members are often targeted with vandalism or physical violence.
And we're learning more about the conference that brought one of the alleged terrorists to Philadelphia. The theme of the conference was "Forging A Muslim-American Agenda."
The general secretary of the Muslim Alliance in North America, the organization that put on the conference, told Fox 29's Julie Kim that terrorism or a Jihad against America was not a part of that agenda.
Long before they ended up in handcuffs and charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, the four suspects in this alleged terror plot -- shown in just released court sketches -- were small-time criminals. Authorities said James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen met while in prison, where they converted to Islam.
Court documents say that the plot to target Jews originated in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Authorities said Cromitie attended the Muslim Alliance in North America conference in November, where he allegedly told an informant that he hated Jews and wanted to destroy a synagogue.
Ihsan Bagby, the general secretary of MANA, talked to Fox 29's Julie Kim on Friday, saying Cromitie was seen at the conference although they are still trying to confirm his registration.
He said MANA is mostly a social-service organization that promotes volunteerism. He said, "We condemn violence. There is no place for it in the Islam or the Muslim-American community. We speak out against extremism. Anyone who attended the conference did not hear anything like that (promoting violence). … They heard the opposite."
Authorities said it was after the conference when the men collected guns, cell phones, surveyed synagogues and purchased what they thought were real explosives and a missile system from undercover law enforcement.
The men were arrested late Wednesday night as they planted fake explosives at two synagogues in the Bronx.
MANA also said they are letting their members and various mosques be more secure.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League said they've sent letters urging synagogues to be cautious but not hysterical.