The Case for the Surveillance of Mosques
“Imagine putting recording devices in the confessional in a Catholic church? Imagine that they can do this in a place that is meant to be safe … people trust their religious leaders, people come and share their most intimate details with us.”
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a case that will determine whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation can invoke “state secrets” privilege to avoid a lawsuit over its monitoring of Muslim communities and places of worship in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
In July 2018, an imam at the Davis Islamic Center in Northern California preached Jews were contaminating Muslim shrines with their “filth” and called for their genocide. “Oh, Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one,” Imam Ammar Shahin fumed in his sermon, the Los Angeles Times reported. Shahin later apologized after a videotaped excerpt was translated, saying he let his emotions “cloud my better judgment.”
A major problem is that such radical preachers inciting anti-Semitic violence and anti-American hatred are not even prosecuted, let alone banished by the leadership of their mosques.
“It’s outrageous they aren’t immediately removed and investigated for what may be solicitation [to commit a crime of violence],” was the view of veteran FBI Special Agent John Guandolo, who now runs a counterterrorism consulting firm.
According to court documents and interviews, in 2006, the FBI sent an informant named Craig Monteilh, who posed as a convert named Farouk al-Aziz of Syrian and French descent, to approximately 10 mosques in Southern California, including the Islamic Center of Irvine in Orange County to investigate the preaching of hatred and insurrection by imams. Under the Foreign IntelligenceSurveillance Act of 1978, as well as the so-called state secrets privilege defense, the FBI has justified its actions in order to ensure, as it sees, radical Islamic indoctrination at the mosques do not encourage Muslims to carry out any terrorist attacks in America.
Click below to see how some American mosques are breeding anti-Semitism and hatred
Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, who was an imam at the Orange County Islamic Foundation in Mission Viejo, California, who is challenging the FBI, said:
While in theory Fazaga’s argument holds weight, in reality it does not since the teachings of Catholicism, i.e., the Gospels of Jesus Christ do not encourage such barbarous acts, unlike certain verses in the Quran and the hadiths which jihadists continually cite to justify their terrorism.
The Mosque, Not Just a Place of Worship
As I mentioned in a previous article, since the beginning of the seventh century, when the Prophet Muhammad began his mission, militant Muslim leaders have been waging a universal jihad around the world for the purpose of Islamic domination. The percentage of peaceful or moderate Muslims was never a determining factor in holy war because peace and moderation are not congruent with the totalitarian directives of Islamists political goals. As history has shown, its truculent leaders have continually followed the totalitarian mandates of universal jihad contained in them.
A mosque, to the common observer, is the physical place designed for Muslims to worship Allah. Yet throughout Islamic history the mosque has been the gathering place for the community of Allah’s faithful. Although all men are expected to pray inside a mosque, especially on a Friday (yawm al-jumu’a), they are not obligated to do so, since they can fulfill their duty anywhere they see fit. Keeping in line with male superiority, women are segregated in a separate area or are encouraged to stay at home to pray. A mosque, at the same time, represents something absolutely and radically different from a mere Muslim church or temple.
In fact, in Egypt, under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, the government has developed a comprehensive strategy to fight the Islamic extremism stemming from mosques.
The Egyptian Crackdown Model
The Egyptian strategy is a comprehensive and multi-layered plan covering the following layers:
- Control of the mosques
- Control of the preachers
- Control of the speeches
- Regulation of fatwas
- Control of the financial resources of Islamic NGOs
- Al-Azhar — the oldest and most prestigious university in Sunni Islam — as dominant religious authority
- Control of schools
Control of the mosques — Egypt’s Ministry of Awqaf issued a decision, in 2014, to impose more stringent controls on the country’s mosques. As the Egyptian government continues to crack down on the ousted Muslim Brotherhood, the Ministry of Awqaf seized control of several mosques controlled by the Islamist group. The Egyptian Minister of Awqaf said that the ministry is monitoring what is happening in the larger mosques in order to ensure that da’wa (proselytizing) there does not transgress the boundaries into political or partisan work.
In another endeavor to enhance the security level nationwide, Egypt’s Minister of Awqaf announced, in August 2015, the installation of surveillance cameras at mosques across Egypt, and for good reason. According to the Minister of Religious Endowments, the cameras were installed in an effort to both protect mosques from terrorist attacks and to make certain that the mosque sermons are monitored to ensure no extremist sermons are delivered.
Islam can Exist but it cannot Co-exist with the West
A peaceful “cohabitation” between the Christian West (whatever may be left of it) and Islam has been shown to be historically destructive. Unlike Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán, Western leaders have continually turned a blind eye to this. More so, numerous mosques are being built by countries like Saudi Arabia, which have become hotbeds of extremism. As former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sir William Patey said two years ago, Saudi Arabia has been funding mosques throughout the West that teach extremism, “which may down the road lead to individuals being radicalized and becoming fodder for terrorism.”
Saudi Arabia, in fact, imposes hegemonic influence over Arab and other Islamic states, and the headquarters of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — the NGO-self-proclaimed voice of Islam, which is composed of all 57 Islamic states, including Turkey and the Palestinian Territory — is in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia according to the Siro-Catholic Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Joseph III Younan, has since the mid-1970s “recklessly financed and promoted a harsh and intolerant Wahhabi version of Islam — [which essentially provides the theological groundwork for almost every violent jihadist group] — around the world in a way that is, quite predictably, producing terrorists.”
While it cannot be said that every mosque is an incubator for jihadist operations, a random survey of mosques in the U.S. a few years ago, for example, showed that about 80% of them were complicit in promoting violence — this in no way shape or form warrants hatred or violence against Muslims nor the vandalizing or physical destruction of mosques. Yet the FBI is keenly aware of the profoundly destructive effect of Islamist radicalism and the unprecedented eruption of violence in the name of Islam that is sown in mosques. Hence, there is sufficient reason to at least clandestinely investigate which mosques are promoting jihad and which are not.
Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He has a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; he also holds a M. A. in Medieval History from Fordham University, as well as a B.A. in Government & Politics from St. John’s University. He is also author of Islam: Religion of Peace? – The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.