The revelation that Boston-area fugitive Ahmad Abousamra is running the Islamic State’s (ISIS) sophisticated social media propaganda campaign casts light on the leadership of a complex of radical mosques in and around the Greater Boston area. According to information obtained during litigation discovery and provided by Boston Muslims who asked not to be identified out of fear for their physical safety, Ahmad Abousamra is deeply connected to the top Muslim community leaders in Boston.
Ahmad’s father, Abdulbadi Abousamra (Abousamra Sr.), has served as a president or board member of several mosques, Islamic schools, and Muslim political organizations in Massachusetts from the mid-1990s. In fact, he is still the president of an Islamic elementary school in Sharon, MA. Abousamra Sr. had used his leadership position in multiple Boston Islamic institutions to import extremist and terrorist-affiliated imams into Boston. One of these imams, Hafiz Masood, appears to be the one who radicalized his son, Ahmad Abousamra (Abousamra Jr.).
Until 2007, when Abousamra Jr. was first questioned by the FBI over a plot to provide assistance to Al Qaeda in Iraq and to massacre shoppers at the Emerald Square Mall in North Attleboro, MA, his father, Abousamra Sr., was vice-president of the Boston branch of the Muslim American Society (MAS Boston). According to federal authorities, the Muslim American Society was created to be "the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America." MAS Boston operates the largest Islamic center in the Northeast, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC). The Boston Marathon bombers attended the ISBCC’s sister mosque in Cambridge. Both mosques have a long history of Islamic extremism and terrorism.
In 1994, Abousamra Sr. joined the Islamic Center of New England (ICNE), another Muslim organization that runs two mosques in the Boston suburbs of Quincy and Sharon. By 1998, he became its president. Abousamra Sr.’s passion lay with influencing the religious education of the Center’s youth. He personally founded two schools at the ICNE: the Islamic Academy of New England elementary school in 1999 and the Al Noor Academy secondary school in 2001 – the latter with $100,000 in seed money he received from the Islamic Society of Boston. Even though Abousamra Sr. left the country shortly after the FBI put a bounty on his son, he is still the president of the Islamic Academy of New England.
In 1998, Abousamra Sr. hired Mohammed Hafiz Masood to be the new Imam at the Islamic Center of New England and a teacher at the Islamic Academy of New England. At that time, Masood was in the United States illegally.
Masood quickly began to clash with the moderate members of the community over the extremist ideology he was teaching their children. Masood told one child, whose father was Egyptian but whose mother was Jewish that he won’t get into heaven unless he disowns his mother. The couple pulled their son out of the school. According to another mosque member, Masood told his eight-year-old nephew that Americans are “Shataan [Satan] and will not go to paradise because they don't do prayers.” This mosque member insists that:
“In my view, this type of talks to young generations is creating hate towards the U.S. and its people, which include us too. He is brainwashing young kids with material that has nothing to do with Islamic teaching.”
Yet another mosque member claimed that Masood and Abousamra Sr. “were making eight-year-old, seven-year-old girls wear hijab [head scarf], and they were making young boys go and talk to these girls [if they weren’t wearing a head scarf], so there was indoctrination.”
Moderate Muslims in Boston who spoke out against Abousamra Sr. and his fellow extremists were often intimidated or directly assaulted. According to one of the victimized Muslim community members, Abousamra Sr. had a former convict who converted to Islam in prison hang around the mosque and threaten those who objected to Abousamra Sr.’s ideology.
“They’ll beat you up,” he said.
Mohammed Hafiz Masood has since been deported for immigration violations. After his deportation, it turned out Masood was not an ordinary radical.
Masood is the brother of Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed, who founded and runs Lashkar-e-Taibah (LeT), one of the largest and most violent terrorist groups in Pakistan, and who has a $10 million FBI bounty on his head. Saeed’s terror group is responsible for the 2008 Mumbai massacre, which targeted India over the conflict in Kashmir and left 166 people dead. A Boston Muslim community member claims that while living in Massachusetts, Masood “has stated many times in closed gatherings that, ‘I used to go to Kashmir and kill people and come back,’ and that was why he was a hero to many people.”
After the Mumbai massacres, The Times of India reported that Masood was using his status as Imam at the Islamic Center of New England to raise funds and recruit local Massachusetts Muslims for Lashkar-e-Taibah. Now living in Pakistan, Masood has become the spokesman of his brother’s terror group.
Hafiz Masood’s son, Hassan Masood, allegedly conspired in terrorist plots with Abousamra Jr. He turned informant and testified against Abousamra Jr. and his captured co-conspirator, Tarek Mehanna. According to Muslim community members, Tarek Mehanna and Abousamra Jr. were “thick with Masood” and had been radicalized by his preaching.
The Tarek Mehanna / Abousamra Jr. partnership and Mehanna’s subsequent arrest has spawned a popular radical movement that lobbies, among other things, to free Tarek Mehanna from prison. It is called the Tarek Mehanna Support Committee – and it has a large presence in Boston. Many of its members are former students of Hafiz Masood.
The Tarek Mehanna Support Committee encourages Muslims here to view American law enforcement with hostility and suspicion. On October 10, 2012, the group denounced the bounty the FBI put on Abousamra Jr., saying:
“The Tarek Mehanna Support Committee opposes all attempts by the US government to capture and prosecute Tarek Mehanna’s co-defendant, Ahmad Abousamra. … The bounty offered to capture Abousamra is part and parcel of the US government’s attempts to destroy the Muslim community through fostering informants and mistrust. … Our prayers go out to Ahmad Abousamra and his young daughter, wherever they are. … We call upon members of our community to take a principled stance of non-cooperation with any and all FBI and US Attorney’s office attempts to gather information and testimony in this case. We further call upon community members to take a stance of complete non-cooperation with federal agents and future grand juries or trials.”
Many of the current top leaders of mosques formerly led by Abousamra Sr. are also leaders in the Free Tarek Support Committee. Moderate Boston Muslims insist that the indoctrination that led to Abousamra Jr.’s joining ISIS is still ongoing at several Massachusetts mosques, and it’s only getting worse. One such Boston Muslim asked to pass along this warning:
“They have now made it a goal to go after the elementary schools, high schools, and college students. Parents are losing their children.”
Ilya Feoktistov is the Director of Research for Americans for Peace and Tolerance.Charles Jacobs is the President of APT.