The Imam Qamar: A Failure to Communicate?
August 6, 2012
The same Islamic cleric was investigated for terrorist-related activities twice — six years apart — apparently because the NYPD’s Intelligence Division and the FBI don’t talk to each other.
The separate investigations of Mufti Abdel Rahman Qamar, who lives on Long Island and serves as an imam for a congregation in Queens, were each dropped after authorities apparently concluded there was no basis to them.
According to documents marked “secret” and obtained by NYPD Confidential, Qamar, then an imam of the Masjid Madni mosque in East Elmhurst, Queens, was investigated by the NYPD’s Intelligence Division in late 2007.
Dated December 11, 2007, the documents say that detectives of the Intelligence Division’s “Analytical Unit” prepared a “plan of action” on Qamar, [whose name the NYPD misspells as Qumar].
The detectives photographed his small Cape Cod-style home on Long Island and the Masjid Madni Mosque in East Elmhurst, Queens, where he was the imam.
According to the documents, NYPD detectives worked with the Suffolk County Police Department’s Intelligence Division, conducting surveillance of Qamar’s home. The NYPD also conducted surveillance of the Masjid Madni Mosque.
“SIU [Special Investigative Unit] has conducted surveillance [of his home] three separate times with negative results,” the documents state. “All of the attempted surveillances were conducted between 1130 and 1500 — leading SIU to believe that he is at work in Queens during this time.”
Detectives also subpoenaed Qamar’s phone records, wrote down the license plates of cars parked at his home, checked his EZ-Pass information for border crossings, and conducted what the documents called “a mail cover” at his home.
They also placed GPS devices inside his two automobiles: a 2005 gray Honda Accord and a Blue Nissan Maxima.
“Obtain Mufti Qumar’s registered vehicle(s) and place Global Positioning System in order to better monitor his movements and possible associations,” the documents say.
Detectives also showed Qamar’s photograph to confidential informants.
“Present photo to CI’s [sic] to ascertain if Mufti Qumar has been in attendance at Masjid Dural Qaran (Bayshore Mosque),” the documents read.
“Ask CI Imam if he knows Mufti Qumar; if so attempt to get close to him.”
The documents don’t say what precipitated the NYPD investigation. But there is a hint that the police might have received a tip. stemming from a personal feud.
“Re-interview complainant/victim of altercation with Mufti Qumar’s sons that occurred in October of 2006 from Bay Shore to see if there has been any contact between the two,” the documents say without further elaboration.
The NYPD’s investigation mirrors a previous FBI investigation that occurred nearly six years before, and which also appears to have stemmed from a personal feud.
An article by Pakistani-American journalist Mohsin Zahee in the Pakistani-American newspaper Sada-e-Pakistan described an FBI raid on January 4, 2002, at the Masjid e Khizra mosque in Queens, where Qamar was then its imam, over what the article described as “a false tip of weapons possession.”
According to the article, the FBI received an anonymous tip of a plot to kill 400 people and hide dangerous weapons in the mosque.
According to the article, the FBI took four of the imam’s sons into custody.
“All of a sudden the FBI guys entered into the mosque and handcuffed all of us, laid us down on the floor of the mosque and searched almost all the parts of the mosque,”said Ateeq ur Rahman, one of the imam's sons, in the article.
Meanwhile, another team of FBI agents went to Qamar’s home, searched the house and brought him to the mosque for questioning, the article stated.
According to the article, the mosque was in the process of firing Rahman when the FBI conducted its raid. The article noted “that supporters of Qamar provided the false tip to cause trouble for the mosque.”
So who is Qamar and how does he feel about the FBI raid and Intel’s investigation of him six years later?
In an interview with this reporter, he gave his age as 65, said he had emigrated from Pakistan more than 20 years ago and regarded himself and his children as Americans.
He also gave this reporter a book entitled: “Would You Like to Know Something About Islam?”
As for the NYPD and the FBI, Qamar appeared to harbor no ill will towards either agency.
On the contrary, he praised both of them.
He said that the FBI had written a letter of apology to him that he said he would produce but never did.
An FBI official acknowledged that the Bureau was familiar with Qamar but declined to elaborate.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not respond to an email, seeking comment.
Of the NYPD, Qamar said, “I know they are trying to protect us. I am glad they investigated me to show that I that I am not a terrorist.”
Alas, this reporter never had the pleasure of dealing with Loeser, who is said to be something of an attack dog.
In his six years at City Hall, he never returned a single email or phone call from Your Humble Servant.
Press secretaries don’t behave that way on their own.
Apparently an order had come down from on high, which is yet another example of City Hall’s subservience to the police department.
Back in 2003, while at Newsday, this reporter wrote a story, headlined “A Short-lived Homecoming,” which raised questions about the sudden and unexplained departure of retired Marine Lieutenant General Frank Libutti, the NYPD’s first head of Counter Terrorism. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly had announced Libutti appointment with great fanfare just 14 months earlier.
Kelly didn’t like that story. He wrote a letter to Newsday [which appeared to have been crafted by his spokesman Paul Browne] in which he referred to Your Humble Servant as “mendaciously vindictive.”
Kelly then took a day off from fighting crime and terrorism to drive out to Newsday and personally criticize me to Newsday’s editors.
Since then, neither Kelly nor Browne has returned a single phone call or email from NYPD Confidential.
City Hall has followed suit. As this column has documented over the years, the police tail was again wagging the mayoral dog.
Copyright © 2012 Leonard Levitt