Son of Islamic Society of St. Catharines’ VP arrested for terrorism. Society’s Secretary Hussein Hamdani “thinks the authorities have arrested the wrong man.”
Author: Eric White
Source: Standard / St. Catharines, July 29, 2002, p. A2
Original title: Arrest stuns Niagara Muslims: Mohammed Jabarah’s father organized open houses at local mosque to foster better relations after Sept. 11 attacks
The Mohammed Mansour Jabarah named by American authorities as an al-Qaida terrorist doesn’t sound like the “good boy” who regularly prayed and helped out at the St. Catharines mosque.
And he certainly doesn’t sound like a son of Mansour Jabarah, who worked tirelessly in the shadow of paranoia that followed Sept. 11 to show people the true face of Islam.
News of Mohammed Jabarah’s arrest has shocked the local Muslim community and has some saying that officials must have the wrong man.
Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, 20, is being held in the U.S. for allegedly directing an al-Qaida plan to attack western targets in Singapore.
His father, Mansour Jabarah, is a prominent figure in the Muslim community who served as vice-president of the Islamic Society of St. Catharines and organized open-house events, aimed at educating the public about his religion.
“Here, we can open our doors and people can know us and respect us,” Mansour Jabarah told The Standard at an open house at Masjid an- Noor Mosque in May 2001.
“You can’t taste a food by looking…. This is also the way with Islam.”
Hussein Hamdani, secretary of the Islamic Society and a member of the mosque, said the Jabarah family came to Canada from Kuwait about eight years ago. He regularly dealt with the father through the Islamic Society, calling him a “very good gentleman.”
Several years ago, Mohammed Jabarah was also a regular visitor of the mosque, he said.
“(I would see him) coming and going, working as a helper. He would help us with the cleaning.”
Hamdani said Mansour Jabarah sent Mohammed and one of his brothers to “complete their Islamic education” in Saudi Arabia about three years ago.
During the time he lived in St. Catharines, Mansour Jabarah was constantly travelling back to Kuwait to check on the businesses he operated there.
Islamic Society president Zakir Ali said Mansour Jabarah last went to Kuwait in November for Eid (the Islamic celebration that follows Ramadan) and never returned.
Ali said if Mohammed Jabarah is guilty of these terrorist acts, he doesn’t believe his father would have known about it.
“I don’t really understand how this could happen. Most likely, (Mansour Jabarah) didn’t know anything.”
Hamdani said he thinks the authorities have arrested the wrong man.
“I don’t think that boy can do something like that. His father, his brother, they’re too honest, they’re too good,” he said.
Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the mosque was targeted by vandals, who set a fire out front of the building on Geneva Street. Ali hopes this recent development will not upset the strong relationship between the mosque and the surrounding community.
“Our concern is that people will get intimidated if they hear something like this,” he said.
“A lot of people come to the mosque. And that mosque could have nothing to do with that person.”
Photo: The Standard / Accused terrorist Mohammed Jabarah is remembered as a “good boy” who worshipped and helped with the cleaning at the Masjid an-Noor Mosque on Geneva Street in St. Catharines.