For the past 15 years Abdullah Faarruq was the Muslim chaplain at Northeastern University in Boston. This week, Faarruq was revealed to be an Islamic extremist who encouraged acts of violence and who has publicly supported multiple convicted terrorists. But all traces of Faarruq suddenly disappeared from the Northeastern University website just days after his ties were announced in an article, and just before a shocking and carefully sourced video was released.
Dr. Charles Jacobs, a Boston-area human rights activist and president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, created the video revealing Faarruq as a supporter of convicted Islamic terrorists, such as Aafia Siddiqui, a close associate of the Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
In 2004, FBI Director Robert Mueller described Aafia Siddiqui as one of the seven most wanted Al Qaeda terrorists. Siddiqui, who used to attend Farruuq’s mosque, was also assisted by him in distributing jihadist literature.
In 2008, Siddiqui was arrested in Afghanistan and charged with attempting to use an assault rifle on FBI agents. In her possession were plans for a chemical attack on New York City and a large amount of cyanide. In 2010, she was convicted and sentenced to 86 years in jail.
In lectures around Boston, Faaruuq had called on Boston Muslims to defend Siddiqui because “after they’re finished with Aafia, they’re gonna come to your door.” He told worshippers to not be afraid to “grab onto the gun and the sword, go out into this world and do your job.”
Faarruq has publicly supported other known terrorists, such as Tarek Mehanna. Mehanna who was arrested and convicted in April 2012 on terror charges, including plans to murder American soldiers and politicians, and another plan to attack a mall in Massachusetts, patterned on the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. Mehanna had taught evening classes on Islam at Northeastern.
Faarruq is shown with Northeastern students in APT’s video at a rally outside the courthouse where Mehanna was denied bail, in February, 2011. Mehanna was indicted with another man with Northeastern University connections, Ahmad Abusamra. The two considered themselves to be the “media wing” of al Qaeda in Iraq.
On April 3, 2011, the student members of the Islamic Society of Northeastern University, whose spiritual advisor was Faarruq, held a seminar and concert in support of Tarek Mehanna.
Jacobs told The Jewish Press that, although he was “pleased that Northeastern University removed Faarruq from a position of influence over university students,” much more needed to be done.
“It’s very hard to understand why Northeastern administration has for so long tolerated the troubling and extremist influence of Chaplain Faaruuk on Northeastern’s Muslim student organization,” Jacobs said. “Until we began exposing Faaruuq in 2010, the ISNU website openly promoted to Northeastern Muslim students radical books and extremist leaders who call for jihad, the genocide of Jews, and death for homosexuals.
“We are concerned,” Jacobs said, that extremist influence on Muslim students at Northeastern might be a factor in inciting terrorism. Recently another Northeastern graduate, Rezwan Ferdaus, pleaded guilty to plotting an attack on the Pentagon and Capitol buildings in Washington.”
But more importantly, Jacobs made the point that if a person with so many public connections to terrorism has been permitted to mentor students at a place like Northeastern University – “we’re not talking about Irvine, for goodness sake,” then it is clear that “the same kind of thing can happen anywhere.”
Jacobs believes that what happened with Faarruq provides an extremely instructive lesson for everyone who cares about the condition of our universities.
“For one thing,” Jacobs explained, Northeastern had to be aware of Faarruq’s activities, or they are not running a tight ship. “So if they knew, how come no one took any action to put a stop to it?”
It was only the public exposure created by Jacobs’ article and the announced release of a meticulously detailed video that caused action to be taken.
“Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun is a good person. We do not believe he is someone who supported what Faarruq was saying and doing,” explained Jacobs. “But he had to know that if he took action on his own, the blowback would have been enormous, given the heavy influence of political correctness on campuses, and the willingness of Muslims to stand up for their own.
“If people want university officials to take the right action, there has to be pressure,” he continued, “otherwise, unless an administrator is a saint, they will avoid the pain of taking a negative step like removing even someone who is doing things that are clearly wrong.”
Expanding on this theme, Jacobs instructed that “Jews like to believe that it is reason, rather than pressure, that guides action in the world.” However, “that’s just wrong, and, my goodness, we should have learned that long ago.”
When asked whether he thinks, as a general matter, Jews are reluctant to openly pressure decision makers to take action in support of their positions, Jacobs responded affirmatively, and went further: “Jewish communal leadership is weak, they are conflict-averse.” Adding, mostly seriously, he said, “Jews would rather schmooze than fight.”
In response to a request for an interview with Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun regarding the removal of Chaplain Faarruq, the school’s communications director sent the following statement to The Jewish Press:
Northeastern recently reorganized its office of spiritual life to better serve our students and more closely align with our educational mission. The newly created Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service is under the leadership of a new executive director, and we are currently expanding the number and diversity of our spiritual advisers. Some of our previous spiritual advisors, including Abdullah Faaruuq, are no longer affiliated with the university.
The university refused to respond to any other questions surrounding this matter.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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