MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, September 28, 2016: It was midmorning Nov. 9, 2014, when two FBI agents visited the Minneapolis home of Yusuf Aden Abdurahman. They asked if he knew the whereabouts of his son, Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 20.
“To our knowledge, he is in town, in college,” the elder Abdurahman told them.
The agents informed him that the FBI had stopped his son at JFK airport in New York as he prepared to board a flight to Athens via Moscow. He hadn’t been arrested, the agents said, but the FBI had reason to believe Zacharia had planned to make his way to Syria to join Islamic State.
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Abdurahman and his wife looked at each other. “I felt the sky has fallen on us,” he said.
That was nothing compared to the feeling five months later, when Zacharia was arrested, this time for co-planning a scheme to obtain false passports, travel from Minnesota to Mexico, and fly overseas to hook up with IS, an organization the U.S. government has designated as a foreign terrorist group.
In September 2015, Zacharia pleaded guilty to conspiring to travel to Syria in an effort to provide material support to IS. He is one of six who pleaded guilty to the same charge; they await sentencing in November. Each could get up to 15 years in jail.
Zacharia’s attempt to join IS has led his father to question how his son could have been radicalized into an Islamist militant. It’s a problem that has plagued Minnesota’s Somali-American community for a decade since the Somali insurgent group al-Shabab began recruiting in the state.
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Zacharia did not seem a likely recruit for such groups. He was born in Minneapolis in 1995, part of the first generation of Somali-Americans to be U.S. citizens from birth.
Abdurahman says he was close to his son, played games with him, took him to movies. He says he and his wife loved Zacharia and pushed him to succeed. “We came to live in a country different in culture to ours, so we ran and worked hard to get him into education,” Abdurahman said.
The work seemed to be paying off. After nine years of public school, Zacharia attended a local Somali charter high school and graduated in 2013. After a year off, he enrolled at Minneapolis Community and Technical College with the goal of becoming a software engineer. He also got a job at Hennepin County Hospital.
But IS sympathizers got their hooks in him anyway, his father said. Abdurahman blames Somali education centers, which he said do not protect children from radical religious thought.
“When something happens among these students it stays among them, there is no one from a different culture who says. ‘No, I don’t see it that way, this is the correct way … what you are involved in is not religious, don’t do crazy,'” he said.
Deqa Hussein, whose son also pleaded guilty to the same charges as Zacharia, agrees.
“I took him to Quran school when he was 16 years old. At 18 years old, the FBI contacted me and said your son is palling around, walking with, dining with a group of people whom we are suspicious of,” she said.
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Hussein adds that she is not saying the teachers or imams recruited her son for Islamic State. But they didn’t safeguard him either.
“There are people who live with us in this country, who look like us, who have the same religion as us, but differ in interpretations,” she said. “The people who recruited my son have used Quran school and mosques as a cover.”
Sheikh Ahmed Tajir, the imam of Ummatul Islam Center, says the criticism is not justified.
“Somali-chartered schools … and Quran schools play an important role,” he said. “The management are Somalis, the children meet their cousins and uncles in these schools, and they protect our good culture.”
He defends mosques, as well.
“The mosques deserve honor and respect,” he said. “They are doing the work of religious ministries. They deserve blessing, they produce hundreds of Quran memorizing students, and they bring back hundreds from falling off the train.”
But Abdirizaka Bihi, a Minneapolis community leader, says mosques should not be in denial. Bihi’s nephew Burhan Hassan traveled to Somalia in 2008 to join al-Shabab and died there.
“Most of the young people who traveled to join ISIS or al-Shabab, [it’s] known which mosques they used to go to and the messages they used to hear. We should not hide from it,” Bihi said, using an acronym for Islamic State.
“A young man who was born here, who goes to cinemas in the Mall of America or a university is not just going to wake up one morning, go to Google and then say I’m looking for al-Shabab and ISIS, or I want to find out somewhere I can blow myself up. There are people who mentor and prepare them,” Bihi said.
Abdurahman says he is very pleased that his son was arrested before he traveled to Syria. He now regularly visits his son in prison. He says Zacharia regrets what he has done.
“He has missed playing with kids, school, friends and the family, and above all, his actions interrupted his plans to marry,” he said. “A girl was ready to marry him, but now who is going to wait for a loser?” (VOA)
Pakistan pedophiles, who believe having sex with minors enhances their sexual prowess and stamina, routinely abduct minor Hindu and Christian girls, have sex and convert the girls to Islam and marry them, all within 24 hours.
Muslim clerics in the length and breadth of Pakistan aid the culprits while the parents of the victim girls have no avenue to seek justice. The rapidity with which the entire process happens shows the conversions are well orchestrated and enjoy state blessings as the culprits go scot-free.
“Is there any single day empty, when Hindu girl would not be abducted and converted? A 13-year-old girl kidnapped from Shahpur Chaker and got married to 52 year-old-man at Bharchundi Dargha,” said Hindu agriculture engineer Raj Kumar Tuesday in a Facebook post. “Descendants of Mohammed bin Qasim are to this day treating Hindu girls as if they were a war booty,” he quipped on Facebook. Qasim was a young Saudi general from Taif who attacked and defeated ruler of Sindh, Raja Dahir, in the Eighth Century.
“Where is Sindh Government and child marriage law?,” asks Dr. Jaipal Chabbria, who hails from Kandhkot town in Sindh and is the leader of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf of former cricketer Imran Khan. “How surprising that a 13 year-old-girl is kidnapped and forcefully married to 52 year-old-person who has already five children. Who will give protection to none Muslims?”
The cleric responsible for the conversion is a former member of the National Assembly and belonged to Pakistan People’s Party when Asif Ali Zardari was president. His name is Pir Faqeer Abdul Khaliq aka Mian Mithoo from Daharki town of district Ghotki, neighboring India’s Rajasthan state.
In a span of three years, Mian Mithoo reportedly has converted 150 girls to Islam but he insists that all the conversions are voluntary, never forced.
Even as Hindus were lamenting the abduction of the 13-year-old girl from Shapur Chaker, another Hindu girl was abducted. “No single day passes without abduction of Hindu girls. One more Sorath, daughter of Heero Meghwar from District Tharparkar has been abducted,” said Hindu rights defender Shankar Meghwar
Asad Chandio, a veteran journalist who has been a leading voice against forced conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh, says Mian Mithoo’s conversion works pale in comparison to an even more dangerous cleric named Pir Ayub Jan Farooqi aka Pir Ayub Jan Sirhandi, who is from Samaro town in Umerkot district.
“Farooqi targets Umarkot and Tharparkar, two Sindh districts where even today Hindus form 65 percent of the population. The Hindus there are the poorest among the poor like Bheel, Kohli, and Meghwar,” Chandio, who fled Pakistan after receiving death threats from both religious outfits and Pakistan secret services, said Tuesday from Houston, Texas. “Pir Farooqui has vowed that he will not rest at ease until each and every Hindu in Umarkot and Tharparkar convert to Islam,” he said.
Pir Farooqui heads the religious seminary called Gulzar-i-Khalil in Samara town where he religiously issues a report card each year on the number of Hindu girls and boys he has converted to Islam.
A report in the New York Times early this year said, 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls, mostly underage, are taken from their families each year, converted to Islam, and married.
The Times report cited Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani of the Pakistan Hindu Council as saying, “So many immature girls, below the age of 18 mostly, have been kidnapped. After 15 days a (certificate of marriage) will be presented in court that the girl has of free will be converted and accepted Islam, and she has now been married.”
In some cases, the matter reaches the court system but the victims are often threatened that if they don’t say they had eloped and converted on their free volition, their entire families will be gunned down. So they tell the judge they converted on their free will. Only in rare cases, does a victim tell the court the truth about their rape.
When Pakistan was created by the British Raj, by dividing India, in August 1947, thirteen out of the 53 members of parliament were non-Muslims. Farahnaz Ispahani, a Pakistani scholar and aide to former president Asif Ali Zardari, in a paper titled “Cleansing Pakistan of Minorities”, writes, “At the time of partition in 1947, almost 23 per cent of Pakistan’s population was comprised of non-Muslim citizens.” That population has now gone down to three percent because of the forced conversions and intimidation to non-Muslims.
Hindus have nowhere to go
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in a report said around 25 Hindu girls are converted to Islam each month—many cases never get reported. In most cases, Hindus have no door to knock for justice as Pakistani judges side with the rapist kidnappers. According to Hindu rights activist Shanker Meghwar, under the Child Marriage Restraint Act, the age for the marriage of a girl is fixed at 18 years and any person contracting a marriage with a girl under the age of 18 commits an offence, but in the case of Hindu girls the law is silent and so are all human rights activists. “Where should the Hindus go?” Meghwar asks in a Facebook posting. “We don’t know which door to knock; we don’t know before who to cry.”
In seldom cases, a court may pass a verdict in favour of the parents, but those orders go unimplemented, Hindu rights in Pakistan say. “Our community can bear looting and the kidnapping of our men, but the abduction of our daughters and wives is too painful,” Bhagwan Das, who holds a National Assembly seat reserved for minorities, told Al Jazeera news. “Unfortunately, the frequency of these crimes is increasing due to religious extremism.”
Christians in Punjab
If minor Hindu girls are targets in Sindh, minor Christian girls are sitting ducks for the Muslim men of Punjab province. “Raping and killing the kafirs is justified in their basic Islamic ideology,” said Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC) chief Bhatti, who lives in Philadelphia. He said Punjab, the stronghold of the army, is one of the most dangerous places in the world for Christians, including their females. He adds more than 99 per cent of rape and forced marriage cases, involving Christian females, go unreported in Pakistan.
In one case of rape and abduction of a 12 year old Christian girl in Lahore, the militant organisation Lashkar-i-Taiba or “Army of the Pure,” whose main target is India, produced a nikahnama or marriage certificate, claiming that the minor girl was married to one of their members, according to the Christian Freedom International. The non-profit Movement for Solidarity and Peace, MSP, says every year between 100 to 700 Christian women, “usually between the ages of 12 and 25 are abducted, converted to Islam, and married to the abductor or third party.”
In its investigative report “Forced Marriages & Forced Conversions in the Christian Community of Pakistan” the MSP notes that after abduction, these Christian women are subjected to “sexual violence, rape, forced prostitution, human trafficking and sale, or other domestic abuse” but in court, when asked to testify before the judge, these victims give a statement in favour of their captors out of fear.
PCC’s Bhatti said these hapless girls are threatened that since they have recited the kalima, Muslim declaration of belief in Allah and Muhammad, and embraced Islam now if they dare say they are Christians they will be killed for blasphemy and apostasy.
Islam and sex with minors, sex slaves
Apparently, Pakistan pedophiles have Islamic history on their side. After ISIS fighters overran Yazidi villages in Iraq’s Sinjar region, the USA Today quoted the ISIS as saying, “It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.”
Mumbai’s Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, defends the practice of sexual slavery. Zakir Naik, who got 135,000-pound sterling reward from Saudi King Salman, explains at the time of the Prophet Muhammad Muslims were allowed to have sex with captured slave girls and women – the spoils of war – without marriage. “There are many verses in the Quran which say that you can have sex with those who are your wives and what your right-hand possesses,” Naik said on his Peace TVexplaining “right-hand possesses” meant girl and women slaves.
Islamic historians admit during Muhammad’s days, there were quite a few wars or jihad that the Prophet personally launched against the Jews and infidels to spread Islam. For example, in the Battle of Khaybar, a beautiful Jewish teenager named Safiyya bint Huyay, 17, whose husband and father were slaughtered by Muhammad’s army was captured as a sex slave by a Muslim soldier but the Prophet later took her custody and married her. The Prophet then took Safiyya, his newest bride, to Medina on his camelback.
Since marriages and having sex slaves is recognized in the Quran, men in the “fortress of Islam,” Pakistan, apparently have no qualms when it comes to forcibly abducting, raping and “marrying” minor Hindu and Christian girls even though Pakistan law prohibits marriage of any girl under 18.
Mir Salim Sanai, a Sindhi nationalist activist based in Germany, said victims of forced marriages are not limited to under-age non-Muslims but are also common in the case of minor Muslim girls in Sindh. However, in these latter cases, the girls are not abducted and the parents do consent to their child’ marriage.