When I left my hometown of Hilliard, Ohio eleven years ago, it was still a small suburban city outside of Columbus. By the time I returned a few months ago to help care for my aging parents, little did I realize that during the time I was gone that my hometown – about as whitebread, conservative red-state America as you can get – had become one of the many battlegrounds in the Global War on Terror.
The Hilliard I grew up in was sleepy cowtown. As the son of one the local police officers (and my older brother would later follow him on the force), it was impossible to do anything serious without word quickly making its way back to my home, so I didn’t even try. No one else did for that matter. The city was safe and relatively crime-free, except for the obligatory fight at the local bar every Friday night and the annual confiscation of the slot machines at the Moose Lodge. Back then, virtually every area of town was within a half-an-hour walk. While I was in high school, after classes I would walk across the street to the local library at the entrance to the City Park to study and to pass the time.
Today, that former library building is now a full-time Islamic school (K-8), Sunrise Academy, funded and operated by the local-area branch of the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus (ISGC) MAS has been identified by researchers and many media outlets (such as these recent articles in the Chicago Tribune and The Weekly Standard) as one of the U.S. front groups for the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood and funded by the extremist Saudi Wahhabi lobby. Hasan al-Banna, the Egyptian founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, stated this as the organization’s credo: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
But the local Islamic school’s connection to the international Muslim Brotherhood terror network is far from the only manifestation of the hometown jihad. Among the regular speakers at the school is Hilliard resident, Dr. Salah Sultan, who gives monthly lectures on a number of Islam-related topics. Sultan was the founding president of the Islamic American University in Dearborn, Michigan, and still serves on the European Council for Fatwa and Research . He has self-published a number of Islamic titles available through his own publishing company. On his online resume, Sultan lists as his personal vision: “To live happily. To die as a martyr. To meet the beloved ones in the Paradise of the Lord of Heaven and the earth.”
But Sultan’s desire for martyrdom isn’t just a personal ambition; in a speech he delivered to the annual conference of the Islamic Association for Palestine (the primary U.S.-based front group for the Palestinian terrorist organization, HAMAS) in 1999, he expressed his hope that all Muslim children would dream of martyrdom for the Palestinian cause: “I want every child to sleep on the wound of Palestine and the actions of martyrdom, just like that mother in the country whose son wrote to her that they are to meet in Paradise.”
In that same speech, Sultan clearly identifies who he thinks is perpetrating the “martyrdom” of Palestinians in a tirade that could be taken straight from the pages of the anti-Semitic book, Protocols of the Elders of Zion:
What does "the Cause" mean to you? And what does it mean to your children?... How much do they know about these tragedies? Did we mention to them that the Children of Zion over there cut open the wombs of mothers. As Khalid M. Khalid mentioned in 1992 when he visited Shamir and saw on his desk a strange ashtray. He asked him, "What strange ashtray is this?" Shamir told him that this was the skull of an embryo. The skull of an embryo? An Israeli soldier opened the womb of a Palestinian mother, took out the embryo, cut off his head, and gave it to him as a present. He gave it to him as a present! This is the method of the Jews. Killing a Muslim or any other non-Jew does not matter to them. Because their motto is, "The gentiles mean nothing to us." This is what the text of the Talmud says: "If you come across a non-Jew kill him!"
Do you want this guy as your neighbor? We will be glad to see him go, quite frankly.
I’m hoping he doesn’t bring any of his friends home for a visit, like his side-kick Yusef Al-Qarawadi, the Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood and HAMAS cleric whom Sultan hired as a faculty member for the Islamic American University. In 2001, Qaradawi issued a fatwa that authorized HAMAS to conduct suicide bombings, declaring that such acts qualified as martyrdom and did not fall under the Qur’anic prohibition against suicide.
Then again in 2004, Qaradawi issued another fatwa along with 92 other extremist religious leaders authorizing the killing and abduction of American civilians in Iraq, identifying them as “invaders”.
My neighbor Sultan and his buddy Qaradawi also serve together on the European Council for Fatwa and Research. This organization has as its goal the establishment of sharia as the operating legal system in Europe and asserts itself as the ruling government of Muslim’s living in predominately non-Muslim areas. Among the more famous of its fatwas was issued in 2003 during an annual conference organized by the council in Stockholm, Sweden, which declared that jihadist killings and suicide bombings were not to be identified as “terrorism” .
Thus, I have come to discover that the Global War on Terror is no longer a remote issue related to events taking place on the other side of the world. I understood that on September 11th when I heard that a former work colleague was aboard American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon. And I am reminded of it every day when I think about my cousin that currently commands an Army unit outside of Baghdad, living day-to-day with his troops in harm’s way to bring democracy and freedom to the oppressed and victimized people of Iraq.
Though I have to confess that I never would have expected that my hometown of Hilliard, Ohio would have ever become a haven for an international apologist and recruiter for Islamic-sponsored terrorism. But it’s true.
It does make me wonder why the American government would grant someone with such readily identifiable terrorist connections, which took me just a few hours to track down on the Internet, U.S. Permanent Residency status? Have we learned nothing from 9/11? Is that day of unimaginable tragedy and horror just a distant memory?
Then I remember that not even two years ago that another local resident, Nuradin Abdi, was charged by the FBI with plotting with another known local al-Qaeda member, Iyman Faris, to blow up an area shopping mall after he had receiving extensive explosives training in Ethiopia. According to trial documents, Faris was taking orders directly from then-al-Qaeda operations chief, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who planned the 9/11 attacks and was subsequently captured in Pakistan. It is speculated that the terror plot was uncovered by the domestic surveillance program loudly denounced recently by the mainstream media, Democratic politicians, and leftist special interest groups.
This makes me concerned that next terrorist attack on American soil won’t be in Chicago or Los Angeles, but could very well be a bombing at Otie’s Tavern on Main Street, a sarin attack at Tuttle Crossing Mall, or shootings at my alma mater, Hilliard Davidson High School. Any of those scenarios is not far-fetched. Will Cemetery Road be the scene of hundreds of burned-out cars reminiscent of the uprisings in Paris just a few months ago?
It is thoughts such as these that give rise to my fears that the eyes of the world will look in shock and horror to my hometown of Hilliard, Ohio, or one of the tens of thousands of cities like it across the country, as jihad strikes into the deepest heart of middle America. When that day of terror comes, it should be one that we should expect. I remember that my neighbor Salah Sultan and scores of his jihad-preaching associates throughout the American heartland are not just teaching Arabic. The seeds they’re sowing will inevitably bear fruit in a hometown jihad somewhere.
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