Va. Muslim group denounces extremists after Woodbridge arrest

WASHINGTON — After two Virginia men were arrested on terrorism charges on Friday, a local Muslim organization is speaking out against extremism.

In a statement, the Muslim Association of Virginia says it “completely and utterly reject[s] the philosophy and deviant teachings of ISIS, and condemn[s] terrorism and extremism in all forms.”

The Manassas-based organization also encourages Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement and report suspicious activity.

On Friday, the Department of Justice arrested two Woodbridge men on terrorism charges. 28-year-old Joseph Hassan Farrokh was arrested at Richmond International Airport. Officials say he planned to fly to Syria to join ISIS forces. Farrokh, a U.S. citizen originally from Pennsylvania, was charged with attempting to provide support and resources to the terrorist organization.

The man who drove Farrokh to the airport, 25-year-old Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan, was also arrested. He is a permanent U.S. resident originally from Sudan and was charged with helping Farrokh.

The Muslim Association of Virginia says the actions of “fringe criminals should NOT vilify and stereotype peaceful and law abiding Muslim communities in America, Europe and worldwide.”

The full statement:

The Muslim Association of Virginia (MAV) is deeply concerned by news of two individuals from Woodbridge arrested for allegedly joining and aiding ISIS. We completely and utterly reject the philosophy and deviant teachings of ISIS, and condemn terrorism and extremism in all forms.  

 MAV encourages Muslims everywhere in America (and worldwide) to continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials, and we urge anyone aware of these individuals’ activities, and any suspicious activities in general, to contact law enforcement and the FBI Washington Field Office (202-324-3000).

 As the US Attorney’s office noted, “Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.” We consequently call for a full and fair investigation of these, or any other individuals found to be violating the laws of our country, and for appropriate trial and prosecution, and appropriate punishment if they are found guilty.

 The actions of fringe criminals should NOT vilify and stereotype peaceful and law abiding Muslim communities in America, Europe and worldwide. American Muslims are partners in national security and we work closely with law enforcement to protect all communities. There is no justification for any member of our community, or any other American, to tolerate violent extremists. We should immediately report all suspicious behavior, whether perpetrated by a violent extremist, or even by any informant.

 Open dialogue and cooperation between the Muslim community and law enforcement is the best way to protect our nation’s safety while safeguarding individual civil rights guaranteed by the US Constitution.  

 Our previous meetings with the FBI over mutual concerns have created many ways to enhance and strengthen our cooperation, and to expand that outreach so we can all continue to safeguard the lives and rights of all Americans throughout our great nation.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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