A black flag hanging above the porch of a New Jersey man’s home, caused consternation and concern among people in his neighborhood and beyond, earlier this week.
The flag, emblazoned with the words, “there is no God but Allah” is associated with violent Jihadist groups like al Qaeda, al ‘Shabaab, and ISIS – the barbaric death cult that is currently making a name for itself in Syria and Iraq.
The owner of the flag, Mark Dunaway, of Garwood, N.J. flew the chilling banner next to a red flag of Islam, and claims he had no idea what it signified. He took it down voluntarily after passersby took pictures of the flags and posted them on Twitter.
Fox News reported:
A 44-year-old Muslim convert says it was news to him that the flag he hung outside his house is the same banner waved by the murderous jihadist group known as Islamic State.
“I hang it every Friday and every Ramadan which ended not too long ago and I keep it up a little longer than I normally do,” Dunaway told FoxNews.com. “I guess some people saw it and got offended so I took it down. I do not support any militant group or anything like that.”
The tweet was sent out by Marc Leibowitz, an investment manager with Oppenheimer and a former Israeli paratrooper. The photo drew nearly 500 comments and prompted a visit by local police officers.
Garwood Police Chief Bruce Underhill denied that the police “ordered” the flag to be removed, but said residents at the suburban home “voluntarily” agreed to remove the flag.
Dunaway says the flag was given to him by a friend years ago and that he had no idea that it was used by ISIS, which has become infamous for beheading and crucifying non-Muslims.
“I try not to watch that stuff,” Dunaway said. “I try not to get involved. I had no idea. This is just some that is part of my regular routine that I hang up.”
According to Wikipedia, the black flag with “the shahada” inscribed in white was first spotted on Jihadist websites in 2001.
Even though the historical black banner did not have any inscription, this variant is commonly known as al-raya “the banner” or rayat al-`uqab “banner of the eagle” after the hadith tradition, and has been dubbed the black flag of jihad by western observers. Islamic extremist organizations that used such a black flag include al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, the Islamic Courts Union, the ISIS and Hizbul Islam (2009). Some variant designs depict the second phrase of the shahada in the form of the historical seal of Muhammad.
Garwood Police paid Dunaway a visit and pointed out the problems people were having with his disturbing flag.
He says his reaction was, ‘Are you serious?'”
Neighbors say that they would have confronted Dunaway about his flag months ago when they first noticed it, but didn’t because “he mostly kept to himself and did not seem approachable.”
Dunaway insists, “it got totally taken out of context. I am not affiliated with any type of militant group. It was just my way of expressing my religion.”
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told ABC News “the flag is different from the ISIS flag and its message is something most Muslims are familiar with.”
“The flag is a profession of Muslim faith,” Hooper said.
“Every Muslim in America has this phrase somewhere in their home,” Hopper added. “This man just chose to put it on a flag.”
“This is not the ISIS flag,” said Hooper, noting that the ISIS flag has an additional phrase on the bottom that makes reference to the “Islamic State.”
Hooper added that ISIS is a relatively new organization and Dunaway’s flag flying predates it.
Of course, the flag is also associated with al Qaeda and other jihadist groups which Dunaway’s flag-flying does not predate.
Nonetheless, Police Chief Underhill said, “Mr. Dunaway was very receptive when we approached him with our concerns and he voluntarily took the flag down.”
Dunaway said he is Muslim, but also “American-born and -raised” and did not mean to offend anyone.
He has since replaced the black flag with a San Diego Chargers flag, saying, “I just want this situation to go away.”
After taking the offending flag down, Dunaway replaced it with one bearing the logo of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers flag and kept up the other flag. He says that he often rotates the flags mostly of sports teams that he follows.
Hanging San Diego Chargers flag in a NJ neighborhood probably won’t win Dunaway any friends, either, but it sure beats the ominous and threatening black flag of Jihad.