It’s an iconic moment in American cinema, from Casablanca: Captain Renault tells Rick Blaine that he is “shocked! shocked!” to discover that gambling is going on in his establishment, and that it will be immediately closed — just as a clerk approaches and hands Renault his winnings. Muslims aren’t generally known for cinematic tributes, but mosque leaders around the country deserve Oscars for how they reenact this scene every time a jihadi is apprehended. For how long are law enforcement officials going to fall for the act?
The latest example comes courtesy of Arafat Nagi of Lackawanna, New York, who was arrested last week for recruiting for the Islamic State. According to WIVB, the local Muslim community is “devastated and in shock.”
In shock, eh? Dr. Khalid Qazi, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York, said that Nagi “had withdrawn from the community about three years ago. He had some domestic issues, some family issues.” Ah, that does explain it. Qazi is implying that Nagi was a bit unbalanced, leading to his involvement with the Islamic State, and that if he hadn’t withdrawn from the peaceful Muslim community three years ago, this wouldn’t have happened.
But wait: back in 2002, Nagi had wanted to join the Lackawanna Six — six local Muslims who attended an al-Qaeda training camp.
According to Qazi, Nagi withdrew — he wasn’t expelled for his “extremism,” but withdrew — from the local Muslim community only three years ago. That means that for ten years after trying to join an al-Qaeda group, Nagi was presumably a member in good standing of the local Muslim community.
Clearly his recent arrest shows that he hadn’t given up his “extremism.” Yet when Nagi is arrested, the local community is “in shock”? They knew for at least thirteen years that Nagi was a supporter of the violent jihad doctrine they supposedly reject and abhor. What was shocking about his arrest?
Qazi was, of course, posturing for the media and law enforcement authorities, and there is no indication that either didn’t wholly swallow his act. Indeed, despite the fact that this same act has played all over the country, it always gets rave reviews.
It played in Birmingham, Alabama, last April, when a young Muslim woman fled to the Islamic State. A spokesman for the girl’s parents — why did they need a spokesman? — said:
For them this is worse than losing the life of a child, to have them join such a horrible, horrible gang of violent extremists. Nothing can describe the pain they are facing.
The spokesman was none other than Hassan Shibly, a lawyer and the chief executive director of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group with established ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Shibly claimed that the woman had withdrawn from the local Muslim community a year before joining the Islamic State, and added:
The reason she withdrew from the community is because the Muslim community is very vocal against groups like ISIS … she made the decision based on her communication online with them that she wanted to join them.
He didn’t bother to explain why the peaceful Islam the young woman presumably learned from the community and her shocked and devastated parents wasn’t able to withstand the appeal of a supposedly twisted, hijacked version of the religion. He didn’t have to: he could be secure in the knowledge that no one would ask him to do so.
And so it goes. After the July 16 jihad massacre of U.S. Marines in Chattanooga by Mohammod Abdulazeez, the Times Free Press reported that Bassam Issa, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga:
… has said how shocked he was to find out that a young man who went to his mosque harbored radical ideas. He doesn’t see how anything Abdulazeez learned locally could have led to such thinking or to such a tragic plan.
And last April, a Muslim woman named Noelle Valentzas was arrested for plotting, along with another Muslim woman, a jihad bombing on U.S. soil. Valentzas’ husband, Abu Bakr, said of his wife’s arrest:
I don’t believe any of it, period. We are all shocked, the whole community. That’s not who she is.
But back in 2007, Abu Bakr was photographed at the Muslim Day Parade in New York City with the black flag of jihad. He carried it at other parades as well.
A particularly hammy version of this play-acting came in Rochester, New York, in June 2014, when Mufid Elfgeeh, a Muslim local restaurant owner, was arrested for plotting to murder American soldiers. Sareer Fazili, president of the Islamic Center of Rochester, said:
Our religion is one of peace and one of submission and I think all of our friends in the faith based community know that. … I’m very shocked, I’m very upset, very disappointed that somebody who claims they follow Islam, the same religion that has been taught for so many years would think that he is within the bounds of our teachings because nothing could be further from the truth.
He was shocked to hear that someone who professes to be a Muslim would commit an act of violence? Really?
Had Sareer Fazili never heard of 9/11? 7/7? The Bali bombing? The Boston Marathon bombing? The Fort Hood massacre? Or any of the thousands of other jihad attacks perpetrated by people who not only profess to be Muslim, but say that when they bomb and kill they are following the teachings of Islam?
Fazili also said, according to WHEC, that he “does not believe Elfgeeh has ever been a member of the Islamic Center.” That may be, but it is noteworthy how so many devout Muslims who turn to violent jihad — Elfgeeh had tweeted “about the prophet Muhammad and terrorist groups fighting in the name of Allah” — never seem to go to mosque.
Every time there is a jihad attack or plot in the U.S., local Muslims say that no one knew him, he never went to mosque. Yet by their own words, these people are fanatically devout and observant.
Anyway, relax: “Members of the Islamic Center say these beliefs are foreign and are not what is taught at their center.”
Great. So do they teach against these beliefs, which are so widespread as to not be shocking at all, at the Center? Do they teach young Muslims why they should reject the al-Qaeda view of Islam on Qur’anic grounds? Why are there no such programs anywhere? And why does no one ever ask why?
Khalid Qazi, Hassan Shibly, Bassam Issa, Abu Bakr, Sareer Fazili and the rest all do an admirable job playing Captain Renault, but it is time for this play to close, and for law enforcement officials and the mainstream media to get more skeptical about these professions of shock and dismay at every jihad arrest. These jihadis didn’t exist in a vacuum, much as these Qur’an-toting Renaults would have us believe otherwise. If it doesn’t stop soon, this credulity could be the death of us.