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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Johns Hopkins University’

Sentencing Tuesday for Suburban Honor Student Turned Teen Terrorist

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

He had a full scholarship to the prestigious Johns Hopkins University. But teenage Pakistani-American Mohammad Hassan Khalid lived a double life.  The dark half of that life could land him in jail for almost as long as he’d been alive when he assisted other terrorists in attempts to murder enemies of Islam.

Khalid is the youngest person ever charged with terrorism.

He was just 15 years old and an honors student at Mount Hebron High School, in Ellicott City, Maryland, when Khalid first met Colleen LaRose, more popularly known as Jihad Jane, in an internet chat room. LaRose, of Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in 2011 of plotting to kill Lars Vilks, a Swedish artist who had offended Muslims. In 2007, Vilks had drawn the Muslim’s prophet, Mohammed, as a dog.

According to the indictment entered against Khalid, the teen solicited funds to support acts of terrorism, and passed and also hid passports to be used for committing acts of terrorism. The teen helped to devise and coordinate a violent jihad organization consisting of men and women from the United States and Europe “in order to wage violent jihad.”

In addition to helping LaRose, Khalid was charged with aiding Ali Charaf Damache, an Algerian man who lived in Ireland. Both LaRose and Damache sought to join what prosecutors called a “professional organized team,” who would be trained by al-Qaeda or other organizations to “kill, kidnap, maim or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country.”

Logs of Khalid’s online chats reveal that what others saw as an outwardly well-adjusted, academically successful student was one who at the same time fantasized about engaging in martyrdom operations in his high school.  According to records obtained by the Baltimore Sun, Khalid described his suburban neighborhood this way:

The place where i live is a HOTBED of nsa and all the security agencies of amrika… and the kids who study in my school proudly state that their parents work in NSA and FBI,” Khalid wrote, according to the logs cited in court documents. “it p****s me off.

Khalid was arrested when he was 17 years old. In Philadelphia federal court in 2012, Khalid pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists.

The maximum sentence the teen terrorist could receive is 15 years, but prosecutors sought a lesser term because Khalid worked with the FBI to help them develop other investigations after his arrest. Still, Jeff Lindy, Khalid’s defense attorney, claims the 10 year sentence being sought by prosecutors is excessive.

Lindy, from Suburban Philadelphia, said Khalid had undertaken his efforts to assist terrorists largely because he was young and because he had mental health issues, according to the Baltimore Sun.

“It was like a video game to him,” Lindy said.

Prosecutors agreed with Lindy that Khalid’s assistance was extremely useful to them, but argued in court papers that they believed he could be “re-radicalized.”

Lindy countered that the prosecutors created that problem themselves.  Lindy’s evidence was that he had proposed sending Khalid to a secure residential facility for juveniles, where he could have received treatment for a compulsive interest in radical Islam. But the government rejected the offer, Lindy said.

“That shows just how ridiculously ignorant they are about fighting terrorism,” Lindy added.

Khalid’s sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 6. He also faces deportation after completing his prison term.

It’s a safe bet that Mohammad Hassan Khalid won’t be using that full scholarship to Johns Hopkins.

Overhauling Orthodox Education To Make Better Jews

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

I am in shock.

A friend of mine was visiting the United States and his ride to the airport for his return flight to Israel fell through. At the last minute he needed to find a ride to a terminal that was 50 minutes away in order to catch a bus to New York City where he would then take a shuttle to the airport.

A young man, fresh off a year of Torah study in a top hesder yeshiva and looking forward to his second year of learning in Israel, offered to drive this visiting rabbi. This boy would appear to be a yeshiva high school success story – religious and learning Torah. Of course, he was told, the rabbi will pay something to offset gas expenses and for his time.

They arrived at the bus terminal and my friend decided he would give the boy more than what he thought the effort was worth since he appreciated the gesture. He offered the young man $50. The boy said it was not enough. My friend offered $60. The boy said, “You have to pay me double because I now have to drive back.”

My friend was taken by surprise and said $60 for 90 minutes of driving was certainly fair. The boy insisted on asking a cab driver what he would charge. The cabbie answered $60. The boy would not accept that. He demanded $100. The rabbi said he needed cash for more buses and for food. The boy responded that this was “taking away time from Torah learning” and he needed to be compensated accordingly. My friend managed to find $84 only to be met with the boy saying, “This is just not right.” And with that they parted ways.

My friend related how just that morning during Shacharit he was thinking about how “off target” we are as he watched rabbis barking at children to stand during “vayevareich Dovid” and the “vihu rachum,” part of Tachanun at a youth minyan. He was not suggesting we shouldn’t find ways to encourage our children to stand when our custom dictates standing during prayers. But the degree to which the kids were being scolded for not standing struck a chord that led him to reflect upon what we teach as important and what is not important.

When this yeshiva boy then squeezed him for money, it all came together in his mind and I could not agree more.

There is no doubt the horrifying actions of this young man are not mainstream. However, sometimes reaching a new low can shock the system and prompt introspection. A yeshiva high-school graduate – after a year in shana aleph and preparing for shana bet – acting in this manner is certainly a significant low and brings issues I have been thinking about for years to the fore.

Let’s take a step back and see where the average yeshiva high school boy stands upon graduation from high school. Is he fluent in Hebrew? No. Can he prepare a Gemara on his own? No. Does he enjoy studying Gemara? No. Does he know Tanach? No. Does he enjoy davening? No. Does he understand basic Jewish philosophy about God, the purpose of creation, and why we do the things we do? No. Does he stand head and shoulders above the rest of society in terms of his dedication to acts of loving-kindness and basic human decency? No.

The time has come for us to look at ourselves in the mirror and work to make change.

What can be done? I would begin by following the advice of my teacher and mentor, Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, of blessed memory, and teach Hebrew. Twelve years of school is more than enough to produce students who are completely fluent in Hebrew and capable of opening both prayer books and classic Jewish texts and having a basic understanding of the meaning of the words.

Another one of my teachers pointed out the shame that if every Book of Chabakuk were to be removed from all our schools and study halls, no one would even notice. The Written Torah contains God’s eternal messages to us and therefore we should shift away from our focus on Gemara and produce students who are proficient in Tanach and Mishnah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/overhauling-orthodox-education-to-make-better-jews/2012/08/01/

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