Homeland Security

Muslim Mayor of Prospect Park, N.J., Enraged at Being Questioned by Border Patrol on Return from Turkey

Muslim Mayor of Prospect Park, N.J., Enraged at Being Questioned by Border Patrol on Return from Turkey
Travelers at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport make their way through a Transportation Security Administration security check before their flights out of Avoca, Pa., on Jan. 19, 2018. (Jake Danna Stevens/The Times & Tribune via AP)

Mohamed Khairullah is back, and he’s mad.

Khairullah, the mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, recently enjoyed a junket to Turkey to visit relatives who are, according to the North Jersey Record, “Syrians displaced by war.” (Khairullah himself fled Syria in 1980.) Khairullah and his family “visited a beach, historic sites around Istanbul and a mosque.” The mayor also made the trip into a working vacation: Khairullah “met with mayors of different towns to talk about government and business.” But the warm glow of his holiday vanished when he flew into JFK International Airport, and was, he claims, held for no less than three hours for questioning. It was, he says, “hurtful.”

“It was definitely a hurtful moment where I’m thinking in my mind that this is not the America that I know,” said Khairullah. “I am very familiar with our laws and Constitution, and everything that was going on there was a violation.”

Khairullah says that when he and his family got off the plane at JFK, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials were waiting for him. He claims that they told him they were doing a random check, and asked him his college major, his place of work, the name of his mother, his nicknames, and where he had been. Worst of all, they “asked whether he’d visited any towns with terrorist cells and whether he personally met with any terrorists.”

This made the mayor furious. “It’s flat-out insulting,” he fumed. “It’s flat-out stereotyping of Muslims and Arabs.”

The CBP agents asked for his cell phone, he says, and he turned it over, but as the questioning went on, he became nervous and asked for it back – but the agents refused to turn it over. He got it back only after a lawyer from the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) contacted the CBP.

The fact that Khairullah would get CAIR involved is bad enough, but the implications of his rage are even worse. Islamic jihadis have committed over 35,000 jihad attacks worldwide since 9/11. Should Muslims be entirely exempt from questioning by Customs and Border Protection officials? When Muslims travel to Muslim countries where Islamic jihadis have been known to operate, should it be considered “insulting” and “stereotyping of Muslims and Arabs” to question them?

Or is Khairullah enraged because he is a mayor of an American city? Should all Muslim mayors be presumed to be stalwart patriots and never questioned?

This is absurd. I myself have been detained and questioned more than once in airports, as well as when boarding Amtrak trains. Once I was working on my website Jihad Watch in an airport, and suddenly I was surrounded by large German shepherds and a gang of cops. Someone had seen “jihad” on my screen and reported me. Another time, I had a sheaf of notes — quotations from the Qur’an and Hadith, without any comments — in my suit jacket pocket, and it fell out while I was going through security — you know, “Kill them wherever you find them” (Qur’an 2:191, 4:89, and 9:5) and the like. I didn’t notice, but police did, and I was soon surrounded by cops again and questioned.

You don’t hear me whining about these or other, similar incidents. I didn’t mind any of the times this happened. On the contrary, I was glad the police were alert and on the job. Mayor Khairullah, if you’re against jihad terror, as I am sure you are, then you shouldn’t mind a bit of inconvenience at airports. We all have to go through it. Or what would you have advised me to do? Should I have whined about “stereotyping” and contacted CAIR (I’m not Muslim, but surely they would stand in solidarity with me in such a case, wouldn’t they)?

The ominous aspect of Mohamed Khairullah’s rage and complaints is what their effects could be. In the future, agents may become more wary of questioning Muslims who have traveled overseas; this will make it easier for Islamic jihadis to get into the country. Is that what Mohamed Khairullah, the patriotic mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, wants? Is that what any American should want?

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

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