Imagine That: Mosque Tamerlan Tsarnaev Attended Gave Money to Two Terrorist Charities Which Govt. Shut Down

Both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News, the latter crediting wire service assistance, have reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the now deceased older brother accused of committing the Boston Marathon bombings, was thrown out of a service at the Islamic Society of Boston, the Cambridge mosque he attended, about three months ago. I wonder if anyone in the media will notice the terror-connected history of the ISB? It's right there for anyone who cares to look for it.

First, quoting the Times story by Andrew Tangel and Ashley Powers:


Tamerlan Tsarnaev was thrown out of the mosque -- the Islamic Society of Boston, in Cambridge -- about three months ago, after he stood up and shouted at the imam during a Friday prayer service, they said. The imam had held up slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. as an example of a man to emulate, recalled one worshiper who would give his name only as Muhammad.

... Enraged, Tamerlan stood up and began shouting, Muhammad said.

“You cannot mention this guy because he’s not a Muslim!” Muhammad recalled Tamerlan shouting, shocking others in attendance.

“He’s crazy to me,” Muhammad said. “He had an anger inside.… I can’t explain what was in his mind.”

Tamerlan was then kicked out of the prayer service for his outburst, Muhammad recalled. “You can’t do that,” Muhammad said of shouting at the imam.

Still, Tamerlan returned to Friday prayer services and had no further outbursts, Muhammad said.

The King-related incident, assuming it's true, conveniently makes the ISB look like a peace-loving organization. That could conceivably be the case now, but it certainly hasn't been in the past.

A autumn 2007 City Journal article ("A SLAPP Against Freedom") by Judith Miller recounts the history of the mosque's attempts to silence its critics, otherwise known as SLAPPs (“strategic litigation against public participation suits, which aim not at winning in court, but at intimidating into silence a group or a publication raising issues of public concern"), and how they backfired (bolds are mine throughout this post):

... Over the last few years, Islamists have tried silencing reporters, scholars, and citizens by suing them for defamation, often successfully. But recent legal cases in California, Massachusetts, and Minnesota suggest that the tactic may finally be backfiring, at least in the United States, if not in Britain, where libel laws overwhelmingly favor plaintiffs. The American lawsuits’ outcomes—poorly covered by the media—represent victories for the free expression and public participation that the First Amendment guarantees.

... Last May, the Islamic Society of Boston dropped its suit against the Boston Herald, a local Fox news channel, journalist Steven Emerson, and 14 others. The Society had accused the defendants of libel and of infringing its civil rights by claiming that it had funded terrorist organizations, received money from Saudi Arabia, and bought land for a mosque below market value from the City of Boston.

Though Massachusetts’s anti-SLAPP law does not cover media firms, ten of the non-media defendants filed a motion to quash the Society’s suit. When a state judge rejected the motion, a legal discovery process got under way while the defendants appealed. Bank records and other documents revealed that, contrary to its claims, the Society had raised over $7 million from Saudi and other Middle Eastern sources and had funded two groups that the Bush administration has designated terrorist entities: the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and the Benevolence International Foundation. Records also showed that Society directors had deleted all e-mails about the Society’s land purchase. Finally, discovery revealed that the deputy director of the Boston city agency in charge of negotiating the land deal not only was a Society member whom it had paid to raise money in the Middle East, but also secretly advised the group about obtaining the land cheaply—a clear conflict of interest.

On May 29, soon after the state appellate court heard arguments on the anti-SLAPP appeal, the Society abandoned the suit. Though its lawyers did not respond to requests for comment and its website tried to put a good face on the surrender, Jeff Robbins, who represented several defendants in the complex lawsuit, expressed their belief that the Society had caved, fearing the prospect of paying what could have been millions of dollars in court and legal fees.

The Holy Land Foundation trial resulted in five convictions. Four of those convicted appealed to the Supreme Court, and lost their appeal in October of last year:

... The appeal was declined Monday without explanation.

The Texas-based Holy Land Foundation had its assets frozen by the Bush administration in December 2001. The Islamic charity and five defendants were found guilty in 2008 on charges of funneling money to Hamas.

The four appellants, of the five convicted in 2008, were Shukri Abu Baker, sentenced to 65 years in prison; Ghassan Elashi, sentenced to 65 years; Mufid Abdulqader, sentenced to 20 years; Abdulrahman Odeh, sentenced to 15 years.

The charity’s organizers had appealed their convictions, objecting to federal prosecutors’ use of anonymous Israeli witnesses, among other things.

The U.S. Treasury Department's designation of the Benevolence International Foundation is quoted at the web site of investigativeproject.org as follows (full document is here; paragraph breaks added by me):

November 19, 2002

The Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) began operating in the United States in the early 1990s. Founded in Saudi Arabia in the late 1980s as Lajnat al-Birr al-Islamiah (LBI), it was renamed upon incorporation in the United States.

Sheik Abedl Abdul Galil Batterjee, a wealthy Saudi Arabian, founded LBI. BIF provided support for the Mujahadeen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, as well as to facilitate the immigration of Jihadists into the conflict zone. After the war in Afghanistan ended, BIF helped al Qaeda establish its presence in the Sudan, Bosnia and Chechnya, providing support for the Mujahadeen in those conflicts as well.

BIF was shut down By the U.S. Government in December of 2001, as part of a crackdown on terrorist financing after the September 11th attack by al Qaeda. The United States Treasury Department designated BIF as a financier of terrorism on November 19, 2002, along with two closely linked but separately incorporated entities Benevolence International Fund (Canada), Bosanska Idealna Futura (Bosnia), and their branch offices.

BIF worked with the Holy Land Foundation, a charity that had its assets frozen by the U.S. government for its alleged support of Hamas.

It's reasonable to believe that the nature of ISB's past financial involvement in funding the Holy Land Foundation and BIF, which in turn funded terrorist groups, would be something in which the bombings' victims, their families, and the public in general would be keenly interested -- especially since Tamerlan's uncle blames unidentified "mentors" for radicalizing him. Did some of these alleged radicalizers "just so happen" to be ISB members?

Cross-posted at BizztBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.