By Bryn Miller
By Bryn Miller
Rabat – Mohamed A. Malik, a Muslim man who knew Omar Mateen, negated Donald Trump’s accusations about the complicity of Muslim communities in terrorist acts by detailing Muslim efforts to inform the FBI about potential radicalization cases.
In a speech last Monday night, Trump told a crowd in New Hampshire: “But the Muslims have to work with us. They have to work with us. They know what’s going on. They know that he was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death, and destruction.”
Trump’s words have found an especially receptive audience in some critics of the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce. Malik attends this mosque, which was the former place of worship of Mateen and Moner Mohamed Abu-Salha, a young man who became the first American suicide bomber when he carried out an attack in Syria for an al-Qaeda affiliate in 2014.Since the Center’s group of worshippers has included two terrorists, some observers have concluded that it is radicalizing Muslim youth with the complicity of its members.
Malik wrote an article for the Washington Post countering this narrative and condemning Trump’s rhetoric. Citing his own experience reporting Omar Mateen to the FBI, Malik asserted: “Trump is wrong that Muslims don’t do our part.”
He recognized that many Americans believe that Muslim communities have knowledge of terrorist plots, but that this belief is a lie. “First, Muslims like me can’t see into the hearts of other worshipers,” he wrote. “Do you know the hidden depths of everyone in yourcommunity? Second, Trump is wrong that we don’t speak up when we’re able.I know this firsthand: I was the one who told the FBI about Omar Mateen.”
Malik met Mateen in 2006 and attempted to support him as a mentor over the past ten years. He noted that Mateen was often frustrated by the racism and Islamophobia that he perceived in America.
After fellow worshipperAbu-Salha carried out his attack in Syria, Malik called the FBI to provide them with as much information as he could about the bomber’s background. Malik also noted in his article that several of Abu-Salha’s friends had reported him to the FBI after he returned from a training mission in Syria and attempted to recruit them.Following Abu-Salha’s suicide bombing, the Fort Pierce community was shaken. Malik spoke with many community members about the attack and discovered that Mateen had been watching the same videos of Anwar al-Awlaki that had radicalized Abu-Salha. Malik reported Mateen to the FBI, who investigated him, found nothing, and closed his file.
Countering Trump’s claims, Malik noted, “I am not the first American Muslim to report on someone; people who do that simply don’t like to announce themselves in to the media… I had told the FBI about Omar because my community, and Muslims generally, have nothing to hide. I love this country, like most Muslims that I know.”