A moderate imam formerly based in the Boston area recently reflected on being ousted from his position at one of the area’s most influential Muslim centers after warning about a radical shift in its theology for almost a decade.
In an interview with Fox News published Tuesday, Imam Talal Eid said increasing radicalism at the Islamic Center of New England, where he served from 1982 through 2005, pitted him against the center’s board of directors in the late 1990s. Eid had been in charge of religious teaching at the center’s mosques, but was ultimately forced out by Dr. Abdul-badi Abousamra, once a respected endocrinologist and president of the 1,500-member center. Abousamra now resides in Doha, Qatar, and is on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s terror watch list.
“At times, I was fearful for my safety,” said Eid, a former member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom who now leads a Toledo, Ohio, mosque. “When I would stand up for what I believed in, and there was a clash, you see how I could be scared.” The three mosques associated with the Islamic Center of New England have all had connections to several known and suspected terrorists, including Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev–the brothers responsible for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing–and Usaama Rahim, the 26-year-old man slain by officers earlier this year after brandishing a knife in a parking lot and allegedly plotting to behead police.
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Abousamra’s son, Ahamad, a graduate of Northeastern University, left the U.S. and began training in Middle Eastern terror camps and aiding al-Qaeda, according to law enforcement officials. The younger Abousamra was being investigated for terror-related charges which led to an indictment, but he left the U.S. altogether for Syria in 2006. It is believed he now runs the social media operation for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The elder Abousamra, who has a $50,000 bounty on his head, is rumored to have died in a recent airstrike. But the FBI did not confirm that. “Although aware of the reports, the United States government has not yet confirmed any change in the status of Ahmad Abousamra,” the FBI told Fox News. “He will remain on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List until the time a confirmation in change of status is made.” The outlet also breaks down what happened to Eid’s successor at the center, Muhammad Hafiz Masood:
A year after Eid left, Masood fled the U.S. after being arrested for visa fraud. He resurfaced in Pakistan, where he is now spokesman for the Pakistani terrorist organization Jamaat-ud-Dawah, a group founded by his brother, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Saeed also founded Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani terrorist group behind the 2008 coordinated bombings in Mumbai that killed 164 and wounded hundreds more. Law enforcement sources say the two groups are one and the same.
As for Eid, he hopes more like-minded people will speak up against the extremists. “Do we need to wait for a tragedy to happen?” Eid asked. “We need to allow more moderate Muslim voices so that life can go smoothly in our society.”
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