If the six men charged with planning to attack Fort Dix a few weeks ago all had ties to mosques in southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, would this be newsworthy?
Well, America’s press outlets didn’t seem to think so, for with little exception, this bit of information went largely unreported.
In fact, according to Google news and LexisNexis searches, the only major outlet to report both mosques involved was the New York Times on May 14, albeit page one of Section B (h/t WOR’s Steve Malzberg, emphasis added):
On the southern wall of the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society here is a mural painted by local schoolchildren. In 18 different languages — from Arabic to Swahili — it depicts the world’s various ways of saying “love,” “hope” and “peace.”
It was here that Mohamad I. Shnewer, a Philadelphia cabdriver among the six men charged with planning to attack Fort Dix, would come to pray with his father, and where three other suspects, the brothers Eljvir, Shain and Dritan Duka, had recently begun repairing the roof.
The Philadelphia mosque — along with the South Jersey Islamic Center in nearby Palmyra, N.J., where the Duka brothers and another suspect, Serdar Tatar, prayed on Fridays — has become associated with words like “terrorist” and “jihad” in news reports and on the streets in the last few days.
Yet, from what I could identify via LexisNexis, not one major television news outlet reported this connection.
Somewhat peculiarly, what did get reported by the Associated Press, and covered by the website PhillyBurbs on May 15, was the following (emphasis added):
Feeling besieged by suspicion and hostility since three of its members were named in a plot to attack Fort Dix, a southern New Jersey mosque is throwing its doors open to the public on Friday, inviting U.S. congressmen, the FBI , anyone who wants to learn more about Islam.
The Islamic Center of South Jersey will hold what it calls an "emergency town hall meeting" Friday night to respond to negative publicity since the arrest of six Muslim men charged with plotting to kill soldiers at the military installation.
The situation has been a source of worry for Muslims who attend the mosque, located in a former church building in this blue-collar Delaware River town.
"It has been very difficult," said Naseem Badat, [mosque trustee] Ismail Badat's wife. "I go online and read all the blogs, and very few of them have anything positive to say about us. Almost everything is very negative. They are saying some really nasty things about us."
Interesting. So, although the mosque connection to the Fort Dix Six wasn’t newsworthy, the fact that mosque worshippers were so worried about reprisals that a town meeting was about to be held was.
Regardless of the peculiar dichotomy, spokeswoman Badat was interviewed by WOR’s Steve Malzberg last Thursday (audio available here). Pay particular attention to how Badat refused to say anything bad about terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.