The arrest of four Southern California men for allegedly planning "violent jihad" against Americans in Afghanistan has saddened one Muslim leader who is worried that the true tenets of Islam are being lost in the media.
"This is not the message of Islam," said Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, chairman of the Islamic Council of Southern California. "This is not what our religion teaches."
For years, he and other Muslim leaders have denounced violence in the name of any faith. They have even issued a nationwide religious verdict known as a Fatwa.
"In Islam, it’s absolutely forbidden to commit any acts of terrorism, to support any acts of terrorism," Siddiqi said. "And also it’s the duty of Muslims to inform the law enforcement authorities if they see anything suspicious."
His Inland Empire mosques were not familiar with the four suspects accused of planning attacks against Americans. Three of the four were recent converts.
"In our mosques we preach peace, love, mercy," said Siddiqi, who has helped launch outreach programs to identify and assist young Muslims who may be vulnerable to extremist influence.
Last year, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, local Islamic centers started a series of classes to teach Muslim youth how to properly navigate the Internet and avoid websites that promote hate and violence, like those the suspects allegedly visited and used to connect to terror networks overseas.