Jerusalem - Court Convicts Nazareth Imam Who Called To Slaughter Jews
Jerusalem - The Nazareth Magistrate’s Court on Sunday convicted the imam of a mosque in the city on charges of incitement to violence and terrorism and supporting a terror organization.
47-year-old Nazem Abu Salim, imam of the Shihab a-Din mosque in Nazareth since 1997, delivered Friday sermons to a congregation of around 2,000 people and also gave sermons in other mosques, including the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
The state attorney’s office filed an indictment against Abu Salim in 2010, charging that the imam founded a Salafist-Jihadist group, Ansar Allah Bayit al-Maqdas al-Nasira (Supporters of God - Jerusalem - Nazareth’), whose ideology was identical to that of al-Qaida and its global Jihad movement, and that he preached and distributed literature about it to his congregants.
The prosecution alleged that Ansar Allah calls on its followers to wage Jihad to lead Islam to victory and free Jerusalem from what it says is a “Zionist Crusader plot.”
Abu Salim, who was held under house arrest since the commencement of legal proceedings against him in 2010, also established a website, MUSLIM 48, designed to spread Ansar Allah’s teachings to a worldwide audience, the indictment said.
Abu Salim expressed solidarity with the al-Qaida terror group and on several occasions encouraged violence, the prosecution argued.
The prosecution charged that Ansar Allah has as its symbol a globe in the shape of the Dome of the Rock topped by a black flag, a mark also identified with the Taliban as well as with the radical Islamist ideologies of the Salafist movement.
The prosecution argued that a group of worshipers at Abu Salim’s mosque were influenced by the extreme Islamist ideologies expounded in his publications. The group went on to commit violent acts against Christians and Jews - including murdering a Jewish taxi driver and attacking Christians, the prosecution alleged.
Other worshipers had become determined to join al-Qaida’s global Jihad and yet others had begun hoarding weapons, aiming to use them against Israeli soldiers, the prosecution contended.
Abu Salim denied the charges against him, and that an organization named Ansar Allah exists, saying that the term comes from a Koranic verse.
His lawyer, Taha Osama, argued that the material found on Abu Salim’s computers was the result of many years of collecting content with the eventual aim of establishing an Islamic cultural center. Other people had assisted with the task and Abu Salim had no control over the material downloaded by those assistants, Osama argued.
However, Judge Lili Jung-Goffer said that the evidence shows that Ansar Allah belongs to the Salafist Islam movement, and that the group has about 100 activists and thousands of worshipers and participants.
According to the Shabak, the Salafist-Jihadist movement is a radical group within Salafism, a Sunni movement that strives to restore the glory days of early Islam by establishing an Islamic society under Sharia law.
In Israel, Ansar Allah is headed by its founder and spiritual leader - Abu Salim, the judge said.
“Various materials seized, including the flag and the symbol, indicate that the organization also had the symbolic trappings of a real group, with an ideology, a purpose and a leadership,” Judge Jung-Goffer said.
Ansar Allah was also declared an illegal organization by the Defense Minister in July 2011, the judge added.
The judge also referred to an expert opinion given by Dr Sagi Polka of Ben Gurion University, who said that the Ansar Allah’s ideology is to lead Jihad to establish a global Caliphate. Polka said that Scapa’s website had published materials typical of al-Qaida.
In Scapa’s defense, his attorney Osama further argued that Scapa had the right to hold the materials found on his computers because the law permits freedom of expression.
However, while Judge Jung-Goffer emphasized that freedom of expression is one of the basic rights of any democracy, including Israel, she said that right is not absolute and must be weighed against other rights and interests.
Consequently the Penal Code prohibits inciting, encouraging or supporting violence or terrorism, including by publishing material that could lead to violence or terror, the judge said.
Judge Jung-Goffer also said that the court did not accept Scapa’s arguments that his statements praising al-Qaida leaders, the Taliban and Islamic Jihad were made innocently, and not out of solidarity with those terror groups.
Scapa had also confirmed to the Shin Bet that he viewed former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden as a hero and that he supports Islam’s struggle against the West, the judge said.
According to the Shabak, Salafist and Salafist-Jihadist ideologies are being disseminated mostly in the Palestinian Authority controlled territories and in Gaza, but on a smaller scale have also begun to spread among Israeli Arabs, and that Abu Salim is the ideological leader of the movement in Israel.
The Shabak have also said that over the past few years, Israeli security and law enforcement authorities have exposed several Israeli-Arab groups with links to Salafist-Jihadist ideology.
On one of these occasions in 2011, several residents of the Arab village of Daburia were arrested after allegedly planning attacks against the local police station. In 2010, Arab youths from Nazareth inspired by Salafist-Jihadist ideologies were involved in the murder of Jewish taxi driver Efim Weinstein.
Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post
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