Friday, October 31, 2014

2 mosques tipped police about man arrested in a violent takedown Saturday

By Evan Dyer, CBC News Posted: Oct 31, 2014

The violent arrest in Ottawa of a man who was the target of a national security investigation came a day after he allegedly caused a furor in an Ottawa mosque by publicly praising Parliament Hill shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau as a hero, sources told CBC News.

Luqmann Abdunnur, 39, was arrested last Saturday after a traffic stop and charged with assaulting police, obstructing police, resisting arrest and driving with a suspended licence.

Abdunnur was "recently" put under surveillance by one of the RCMP's Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams, sources told CBC News.

A day earlier — and two days after Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial — the imam at Assunnah Mosque in Ottawa used his Friday sermon to condemn the attack. Witnesses say Abdunnur, the son of American converts to Islam, heckled the imam, calling the gunman a "hero" and a "martyr."

He was asked to leave and the mosque called police. Assunnah is one of two mosques that contacted police to report Abdunnur as a dangerous extremist, sources close to the mosques told CBC.

Worshippers at the Assunnah Mosque came to prayers a week later on Oct. 31 to find that their unfinished mosque had been vandalized. It's not clear why the vandalism occurred, but officials at the mosque say they don't believe it was because of their co-operation with authorities.


Abdulhakim Moalimishak, president of the Assalaam Mosque Association, said Abdunnur violently interrupted Friday prayers two months ago, when the mosque’s imam condemned extremism from the pulpit.

"He stood up and basically tried to assault our imam, and said the terror groups that are operating in Somalia and the Middle East are heroes, and he would not in any way allow our centre to oppose that radical thought."

Other worshippers had to physically restrain Abdunnur, and he was barred from the mosque, according to Moalimishak. Mosque officials contacted Ottawa police, who for the next four weeks stationed officers at the mosque during Friday prayers. When Abdunnur returned, they turned him away.

Abdunnur then began to attend the Assunnah Mosque, currently in the last stages of construction.


Assalaam Mosque Association president Abdulhakim Moalimishak said mainstream mosques are increasingly being challenged by extremists.

“I would not say this is an isolated incident. I would say there are groups out there that are trying to have a foothold in Islamic centres."

Moalimishak said extremists are taking advantage of the open-doors tradition of mosques and that mosques need help from the wider society to counter that threat.

"We came from war zones, we came from conflicts that we do not want to replicate in this great country of ours.… We do not want these places to be places of politics, of foreign agendas, and of groups who have no interest in co-existence."

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