Cleric Denies Ties to San Bernardino Terrorists, Despite Phone Records

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Pakistani-born Muslim cleric who is acting as the spokesman for the San Bernardino mosque where radical Islamic terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook regularly prayed reportedly claims he barely knew Farook and that he didn’t know his accomplice wife Tashfeen Malik at all.

However, phone records and other evidence uncovered by federal investigators could suggest otherwise.

“We have nothing to hide,” cleric Roshan Zamir Abbassi of the Dar-al-Uloom mosque–believed to be linked to the “Army of Darkness” Tablighi Jamaat group–reportedly said of an ongoing FBI investigation which revealed that Abbassi had exchanged at least 38 phone messages with Farook over a two-week span in June of this year.

According to the New York Post, Abassi claims that he and Farook were discussing food donations for his mosque during the phone exchanges. The timing of the exchanges reportedly coincided with the deadly Muslim terrorist attack on two military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Farook attended the mosque at least three times a week and assistant imam Mahmood Nadvi agreed with Abassi about Malik, alleging that “No one knows anything about his wife.”

Despite Abassi’s assertion that he never saw Malik at the mosque, the Post notes that Dar-al-Uloom prepared a chicken-and-rice dinner to celebrate the couple’s wedding last year and that mosque leadership was present for the banquet known as a walima reception, which is often held after the marriage ceremony (nikah).

Both mosque leaders vehemently deny that Farook was radicalized at their mosque, with Abassi reportedly insisting that not one of their congregants has ever had an “extremist idea” and that Islam is against killing innocent people.

Farook and Malik opened fire on Farook’s coworkers during a December 2 holiday party in San Bernardino which left 14 dead and 22 injured.

Breitbart News previously reported that during an interview with an Italian newspaper, Farook’s father shared first-hand knowledge that his son supported the so-called Islamic State’s ideology and that he was “obsessed with Israel.” His father’s attorney later claimed that the senior Farook did not recall saying this to the paper and suggested he was medicated at the time.

The Post also indicates that Abbassi’s brother, Mohammad Sabir Abbassi, is a “person of interest” in the investigation. Mohammad is reportedly a Muslim activist who serves as a trustee and English teacher at a San Diego mosque that was once headed by the late radical American al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Court records indicated that Farook was a fan of al-Awlaki’s and that he listened to a series of sermons about jihad and martyrdom called The Herefter.

Breitbart News also reported that the Chattanooga terrorist, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, had also researched al-Awlaki online before carrying out his mass murder on American soil this past summer.

During an interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News earlier this month, Homeland Security Department veteran and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol analyst Philip Haney reportedly said Dar-al-Uloom was among several American mosques his agency was investigating as part of a probe into the Tablighi Jamaat movement and claimed that several of the jihadists tied to a 2012 terrorist case had attended that mosque.

A British Muslim family that was recently barred from a flight to Disneyland are also connected to the Dar-al-Uloom mosque; the brother of the man whose family was in question also attends Farook’s mosque.

Tablighi Jamaat is reportedly a Deobandi revivalist movement whose mandate is, according to its leading advocate Ebrahim Rangooni, to save the Muslim world “from the culture and civilization of the Jews and the Christians.”

The Post reports that Haney “said he ID’d some 300 jihadists and terrorists tied to the movement in the United States before the Obama regime pulled the plug on the investigation in 2012. Known Tablighi alumni include the Lackwanna Six, the American Taliban John Walker Lindh, shoe bomber Richard Reid, dirty bomber José Padilla and would-be Brooklyn Bridge bomber Iyman Faris.”

Haney also recently said he was ordered to stop investigating Deobandi Islamist groups and that his work on them was erased. He reportedly suggested that if he had been allowed to continue his investigation, Malik’s visa application would have been flagged for greater scrutiny and she may have never been allowed into the United States.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.



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