Church targeted with shouts of ‘Allahu akbar’ is near San Bernardino shooters’ mosque

Church targeted with shouts of ‘Allahu akbar’ is near San Bernardino shooters’ mosque
The Islamic Center of Riverside, half a mile from the church, where Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik attended services. (Image via Yelp)

Howard Portnoy first wrote about this story at Liberty Unyielding.  The 9 August Fox report on this incident, which took place on 12 April 2016, notes that Riverside, California is close to San Bernardino, where Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 22 people in a terror attack in December 2015.

What it doesn’t make clear is how close the church is to the mosque attended by Farook and Malik.  As we’ll see, given the mosque’s situation and the population it serves, it would be one of the first two places the police should logically have looked for whoever disturbed the Lenten service on 12 April, by shouting “Allahu akbar” at St. Andrew Orthodox Church through a bullhorn.  (The other place would be the Muslim Students Association at the University of California-Riverside.)

That’s if the police bothered – since it isn’t breaking the law to shout “Allahu akbar” through a bullhorn (at least not at that location in Riverside, California).  Note the sentence in bold, as Fox describes the event:

As Father Josiah Trenham prepared to read the Gospel, several parishioners discreetly scooped up their babies, retreated up the aisles of St. Andrew Orthodox Church and out into the spring air, so as not to allow the crying of little ones to disturb the divine liturgy.

The time-honored tradition was shattered when a car passed by the Riverside, Calif., church, slowing down as the front passenger leaned out of his window and bellowed menacingly through a bullhorn, according to witnesses.

“Allahu Akbar!” the unidentified man repeated several times as the unnerved parents drew their infants close and exchanged worried glances.

Witnesses were able to give Riverside police a description of the green Honda Civic, but not of the three occupants. Some told police they believed one or more of the men may have been taking photographs, according to Officer Ryan Railsback. Although Trenham insisted multiple congregants heard the Arabic phrase, Railsback noted no mention of it was in the police report.

Whatever the case, no law was broken – even if an unmistakable message was sent and received.

When I saw the church was on Canyon Crest Drive, which runs through the west side of the UC-Riverside (UCR) campus, I had to check how far it was from the Islamic Center of Riverside (ICR).  That’s where Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik regularly attended services.  (Farook worked at the Center’s bookstore for a period of time as well.)  The ICR, long affiliated with the UCR Muslim Students Association, is at the western edge of the campus.

As the map indicates, the Orthodox church is about half a mile down Canyon Crest Drive from the ICR.  (Click to enlarge.)

Zoomed in view on right shows proximity of the Islamic Center of Riverside to UC-Riverside and St. Andrew Orthodox Church.  The overview on the left shows the Riverside-San Bernardino area, and includes the location of the other mosque frequented by Syed Farook in Muscoy, on the outskirts of San Bernardino. (Google map; author annotation)
Zoomed in view on right shows proximity of the Islamic Center of Riverside to UC-Riverside and St. Andrew Orthodox Church. The overview on the left shows the Riverside-San Bernardino area, and includes the location of the other mosque frequented by Syed Farook in Muscoy, on the outskirts of San Bernardino. (Google map; author annotation)

Obviously not a slam-dunk conclusion. But the ICR is not just the closest mosque (and very close indeed).  It is connected with the UCR Muslims Students Association, which is a member of the national MSA, the oldest Muslim Brotherhood front organization in the United States.  The profile of the harassers, three people in an old green Honda using a bullhorn, would be typical of college-age young men.

After the December terrorist attack in San Bernardino, analysts did some digging on the ICR:

The University of California-Riverside (UCR) Muslim Student’s Association (MSA) describes ICR as being “closely affiliated”. UCR-MSA is affiliated with MSA National, the oldest Muslim Brotherhood front organization in the United States. MSA members have been linked to more than a dozen jihadist terror incidents in the United States, and a similar number in Canada. An NYPD intelligence report described some MSAs as “potential incubators” of terrorism.

Mustafa Kuko himself [the imam] was one of the earliest founders of the Riverside mosque that was founded by UCR Muslim Students, and so it is reasonable to presume that Kuko was himself an early MSA member. …

ICR is one of the mosques of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, an organization whose leadership has long standing Muslim Brotherhood ties, including to Maher and Hassan Hathout, and Muzammil Siddiqi.  Siddiqi himself personally translated for the “Blind Sheik” Omar Abdul Rahman at a lecture the convicted terror leader gave at the Islamic Society of Orange County, which Siddiqui leads.

The Islamic Center of Riverside appears to have a close relationship with the Hamas-linked Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), with CAIR tabling and handing out pamphlets at the mosque per a photo on the Mosque’s Facebook page, posted by CAIR leader Hussam Ayloush. Ayloush was one of the primary speakers at a CAIR organized press conference that took place the night of the attack where Ayloush described America and the West as “partially responsible.”

Additionally, ICR has close ties with the Islamic Circle of North America, holding multiple events together with ICNA. …

ICNA is the American front of the Pakistani based Jamaat-e-Islami, a revivalist Islamic movement close to the MB.

All of these facts have meant that the ICR should have been under law enforcement surveillance for years, both before the Farook-Malik terror attack, and before a church half a mile from the ICR was harassed with shouts of “Allahu Akbar” during a Lenten service.

We don’t know what surveillance, if any, the ICR is now under.  But we do know that the responding police officer after the church was harassed did not record that the harassers shouted “Allahu Akbar.”  That is hampering law enforcement to the point of insanity.

We also know too much about all this history to accept, going forward, that there was no way to spot potential terrorists in advance.  Law enforcement can’t intercept everyone or everything – but that’s no excuse for not even trying.  (It’s especially not an excuse for the U.S. Justice Department to turn around and investigate a town that very sensibly wanted to have the sponsors of a proposed mosque vetted by terror-intelligence agencies before giving approval to build it.)

The lengthening history of threats and actual Islamist attacks against churches and synagogues throughout the West (of which the Fox report notes some) is a warning we can’t afford to miss.  Not to mention the emergence of Europe-like patterns of social disturbance in places like Twin Falls, Idaho, where large numbers of Muslim refugees from Africa and South Asia have been settled in the last few years.

No moral code obligates Americans to adjust to these transformations: the loss of security, a sense of safety, of community peace.  Acceptance of refugees, or any other immigrants, for that matter, must come with the condition that they assimilate – that word, and no other – to the aspects of our culture that keep us from harassing other people at worship, and from excusing things like sexual assault.  The American people themselves get to decide what constitutes “enrichment” from diversity.  Full stop.

Plenty of Muslims do live peaceably among us, and God bless them.  But a disproportionate number don’t.  2016 is the year of cutting the crap, and it’s long past time to cut the crap on that one.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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