These would-be terrorists traveled to Pakistan, intent on killing American soldiers whom they saw as waging a war on Islam.
Leaders at the Alexandria-based ICNA mosque expressed shock at the men's decision to give up bright futures for jihad. "The teachings of this mosque are the Koran, moderation, tolerance and peaceful interaction with our neighbors and other faiths,' said Essan Talawi, a guest imam at the mosque where the five men attended and were active members of its youth group."
Youth group director Mustafa Abu Maryan said extremism and violence are not part of the mosque's teaching. "We have always focused on community, community, community," he said.
ICNA issued a declaration saying, "Extremism has no place in Islam, and ICNA works tirelessly to oppose extremist and violent ideology." This concern marks a dramatic reversal for ICNA. Faced with a similar episode 12 years earlier, the group honored a member who travelled across the world to wage jihad in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
ICNA's 1997 Southeastern Regional Convention honored Lawrence Nicholas Thomas (aka Jibril Abu- Adam), an American citizen and convert to Islam, who was killed while fighting alongside terrorists in Kashmir.
Jibril had travelled to Pakistan and trained with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) (the Righteous Army), which was later designated by both the U.S. Treasury and UN as an Al Qaeda support organization.
After training at the LeT base, Jabril Abu-Adam and his unit went to Kashmir and ambushed Indian troops. Less than three months later, he was killed while attacking an Indian army post. At the November 1997 event, a plaque was presented to his family which read: "In recognition of Jibril Abu-Adam (also known as Lawrence Nicholas Thomas) for his devotion to His Creator and his ultimate sacrifice on behalf of his fellow Muslims in Kashmir."
ICNA's magazine, The Message, also saluted Abu Adam in a December 1997 article entitled, "Actions Speak Louder than Words." The article glorified the death of Muslim fighters, claiming "they lay peacefully where they fell and took on the appearance of being asleep, whereas the corpses of the fallen enemy began to decompose and became distorted, disfigured." It also detailed Abu-Adam's life, and praised his dedication and decision to wage jihad:
"By age 19, he decided to dedicate himself to jihad. However,' Jibril asserted, 'the duties to my family are on a personal level while the duty to my Ummah (Muslim community) is the top priority.' Pointing in the direction of Kashmir, he said, 'I have to help these people. I am just waiting for the snow on this mountain to melt. Then I will cross over into Kashmir, Insha'Allah.' The snow melted. On 26 October 1997, at the village of Doda in Kashmir, there was a skirmish. Thirty-four Indian soldiers were killed, and four Muslims became shaheed (martyrs). Allahu Akbar! Among those who became shaheed was Jibril, Insha' Allah. (It is reported from reliable sources that Jibril was responsible for killing 17 of the 34 Hindu fighters)."
In addition to honoring Abu Adam's personal decision, the article exhorts other Muslims to follow in his path.
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