Phoenix police officers have been tasked with providing extra patrols around the area of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, the mosque attended by two now-deceased radical jihadists who attempted to commit mass murder last week at a “Draw Muhammad” free speech event in Garland, Texas.
Mosque chairman Usama Shami told KPHO/KTVK Phoenix that some members of the congregation have been receiving “nasty emails” and “nasty voicemails.” He said that the threatening messages started to flood in after two of the mosque’s regular attendees, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, failed in their attempted jihad at the Texas event last Sunday.
Shami said that only about half of the usual 800 members of the congregation showed up for Friday prayers. Although the mosque has previously had attendants who attempted to commit acts of terrorism, Shami told KPHO/KTVK that the mosque has nothing to do with such acts, and that officials there could self-police its members.
“If somebody is showing these signs, we will have a talk with them,” Shami explained. “Our policy is if he continues with that, we will tell the authorities about this person.”
Shami said the Friday services were focused on promoting the “true” meaning of Islam. “We talked about the peaceful message of the faith and how the central essence of Islam is peace,” he told the local news network.
But some attendees of the mosque have hinted at the possibility that toxic rhetoric from within is helping to encourage jihadist plots.
“The fact that he [Elton Simpson] felt personally insulted by someone drawing a picture had to come from the ideological rhetoric coming out of the mosque,” said Courtney Lonergan, who attended the mosque and witnessed Simpson’s conversion to a fundamentalist interpretation of the faith.