By Lee Kaplan, analyst, communications director
Imagine you wake up one morning to the news: war has broken out between American forces and the Khomeinist regime in Iran. Within hours of U.S. forces landing on Iranian soil, shooting attacks have broken out at some U.S. high schools and colleges and in shopping malls. Synagogues and local police stations across the country have experienced bombing attacks. Even some day care centers have seen attacks on children across the country. Within hours of the war starting, fatwas were issued at some mosques ordering the devout to take up arms against “the oppressor” — America.
Sound implausible? Not really, if one looks below the surface at certain mosques in the U.S. As in any social construct, while the elders of a given mosque, the imams, might lead the call for such attacks, it is the young people with the physical vigor and desire to take action that would carry them out. Not all mosques or their youths would be involved. For example, while both Sunni and Shiite mosques both tend to be against American foreign policy, the Sunnis and Shiites don’t always get along (but sometimes they do when it comes to opposing Israel). Incredible as it sounds to non-Muslims, Shiites expressed satisfaction at the killing of the Sunni Osama Bin Laden.
But would young adolescent Muslims in America who listen to hip hop music, or play video games, especially the girls who don’t wear hijabs or niqabs, really take to arms for Holy Jihad? The answer lies with what the youths are listening to and saying behind the facade of the mosque that appears as just another religious institution in a land that allows maximum freedom of religion.
A case in point could be made about the SABA Mosque located in what on the surface looks to be the peaceful Silicon Valley, California. The Mosque is near all the Internet goliaths like Google, but within it lurks another world behind the scenes. Attending a sermon is the same as at any synagogue or church; the devout become lost in the daily orisons, very young children run around trying to amuse themselves as their parents pray, men and women serve food for the after service meal. But SABA is different in a sinister way; SABA is a mosque dedicated to the Khomeinist government in Iran. While brochures at its entrance stress how the Mosque’s school, SABA Academy, instills in its youth “a high moral character,” other brochures urge mosque attendees to never cooperate with the FBI.
In fact, the entire mosque gives constant tributes to the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the man who led the Iranian revolution that took U.S. embassy personnel hostage in 1979, killed 243 U.S. military personnel in 1983 and launched Hezbollah. Such tributes are not lost on the Mosque’s young people, either. Since the idea is instilled in the Mosque’s young adolescent men and women that following the lead of the Mosque’s elders will give them a “high moral character,” it would only be a natural progression in time of war for such young people to follow a fatwa to martyr themselves for the regime back in Iran.
Is this an exaggeration? If one looks at the Facebook and YouTube accounts and activities of one leader of the Mosque’s youth movement, the answer is apparently no.
That example would be the SABA Mosque’s imam’s son. Since the religious leader of any institution usually sets an example for his acolytes, one normally can expect to observe in his children the models for all youths growing up within the religious institution, so following the imam’s son would be a natural progression.
Nabi Raza Mir is the SABA Mosque’s religious leader, or imam. His prestige can be seen in how his followers, especially the youth, address him as “maulana,” which is Arabic for “our lord.” Mir was recently denied reentry into the United States after visiting his native village of Alipur, a Khomeinist stronghold in India. Despite the U.S. Homeland Security Department (DHS) wanting to keep him out, a U.S. judge decided to let him back into the U.S. In fact, part of Mir’s legal appeal aided by CAIR and lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild was that he needed to return because his son was still living here and would need to enter college soon. The boy, Ali Mir, to his friends is a high school student active in the Mosque’s community in San Jose, being groomed to one day be another extremist imam in America like his father heading several regional mosques.
Imam Nabi Raza Mir of SABA Mosque, father of Ali Mir.
Hezbollah agents and adherents usually like to have dual identities and as such have dual names. Ali Mir, San Jose high school student by day, in the Mosque is known as Ishraq Abidi. This distinguishes him from the kafirs, or non-Muslims, and sends out a message he is not just anyone in the Shia community. The Khomeinist youth movement back in Iran is known as the Basij, and they wear a distinctive white and black checkered scarf to let others know they mean business. Ali Mir/Ishraq Abidi sports this scarf at public functions in San Jose and around the Mosque.
Ali Mir/Ishraq Abidi at rally in downtown San Jose, California.
Is this just a 17 year-old boy living in America emulating terrorists and Khomeinist thugs in Northern California? Or is he promoting what he has learned at his father’s knee? The boy’s YouTube account reveals much more about him. Rather than images of rock bands and pretty girls, Ali Mir/Ishraq Abidi’s YouTube pages are festooned with images promoting terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas and denigrating Jews (Zionists). One page shows us an image that says, “Put this on your profile if you believe 9/11 was a Zionist inside job.” Immediately below this we see the image of two fingers making an obscene gesture with the quote “F— Zionists!” and immediately below that we have the image of a HEZBOLLAH-branded pistol with the statement “Take the gun and fight the Zionists [Jews] and the Nawasib [Saudi Sunnis, considered U.S. allies]-Put This On Your Page If You Support Resistance Against the Zionists and the Nawasib.”
An isolated incident? Not quite. As with most teenagers, Nabi Mir’s son is active with using social media on the Internet. A screenshot of a YouTube page he operates for the SABA Mosque features a video of his imam father lecturing and at the bottom lists his alias Ishraq Abidi and tells viewers for his avatar he chose the name of the Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi. An avatar is an emblem that represents what someone believes in and becomes their sign on a message board. Yazdi is the worst of all the Khomeinist imams running Iran today, the most militant, anti-U.S. and pro-terror, and he is the godfather of Ahmadinejad. Of note, we see that Ali Mir/Ishraq Abidi is not alone as one group he communicates with regularly that was listed on the page is Shia Youth representing thousands of Ali Mirs/Ishraq Abidis.
On still another Facebook page, one on which he openly uses his nom de guerre Ishraq Abidi, he explicitly says he is a fan of Ali Khamenei, the current militant Islamic leader of Iran and then includes his admiration for the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Hamas fund raiser and supporter George Galloway and Ahmadinejad, all terrorism supporters. He promotes his mosque’s youth camp and mentions he sells something that says he loves his dad. How sweet.
Watch this video the imam’s son has presented on the Web, especially noting the calls to violence and terror at the end:
Or this one: http://www.youtube.com/user/lebaneseboy1
And note the wall used by Ali Mir/Ishraq Abidi for many of his social media pages at this link:
It’s obvious the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Ali Mir/Ishraq Abidi hosts multiple pages that all extol support for violence or terrorism. On yet another YouTube page where he lists his ID as ali3212, he has an Iranian flag with a silhouette of an armed terrorist superimposed over it. To the right is a video of a sermon given in Iran where the adherents all chant “Death to America!” In another YouTube page he operates there is a video tribute to the Ayatollah Khomeini, another titled “The Beautiful Channel” contains a collage of Hezbollah flags. Remember, it was Hezbollah who murdered our U.S. marines back in 1983. The Internet is full of this lad’s social media pages, and many have been since removed but were saved on screen captures. In one older Facebook page he uses a photo of the Ayatollah Khomeini as his avatar and he set up at least three more pro-Hezbollah pages that call for death to America. Apparently he has made a business out of this on YouTube that he now calls ZahraProductions.net, a site replete with the worst jihadist media and tributes to Khomeini and Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. Some of the material makes threats and exhortations to violence calling for the destruction of the United States and Israel.
In downtown San Jose, California youths from SABA Mosque wear Basiji scarves, extoll Hezbollah.
Basijis are like the Hitler Youth Movement of Iran’s regime and commit themselves to martyrdom.
Ali Mir/Ishraq Abidi does not conduct a business doing this because nobody looks at his wares. He in fact communicates with and inspires other Muslim youths not only from the SABA Mosque which is a central mosque in Northern California, but across the globe. In the event of war, extolled by his beloved imam father to martyr himself for the cause, it is obvious he would take great joy to do so.
(Additional relevant screenshots and photographs are available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/hezbollahwatch/.Although some have been removed after being exposed, they are preserved there.)
It isn’t Islamophobia when generations of young Muslims are indoctrinated to the cause of jihad and martyrdom. When a sense of “high moral values” includes tributes to terrorism, we should all be afraid.
The Islamic Counterterrorism Institute contributed to this investigation.