Statements by Mosque of Ottawa Shooter Raise New Questions

Locked out of mosque and home

Burnaby Mosque Zehaf-Bibeau Mosque in Burnaby, B.C. (photo source: Masonry Institute of B.C.)

The mosque that Parliament Hill terrorist Michael Zehaf-Bibeau attended while living in Burnaby, B.C. may have deeper ties to radical Islam than its representatives led us to believe during a recent press conference on Friday. Aasim Rashid, a mufti and representative of the BC Muslim Association* spoke on behalf of the Masjid al-Salaam mosque of Burnaby and “openly condemn[ed]” both the October 21 and October 22 attacks as terrorist acts.  Note: Rashid is not an imam or administrator at the Burnaby mosque. The other man at the table, from whom we do not hear, may be directly employed at the mosque.

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Apart from denouncing the acts as terrorism and stating that radical ideology has no place in the Burnaby mosque, the spokesman was clearly intent on making sure the public knew that Zehaf-Bibeau was no model mosque attendee. Rashid explained that Zehaf-Bibeau, who attended the mosque as a Burnaby resident in 2011 and 2012, had an objection to the “openness” of the mosque and “to the frequent visits by non-Muslims” – so much so that administrators had to sit him down and speak with him about the mosque’s position. Rashid also had this to say about the shooter:

“[T]his guy has a history of using some very hard drugs, smoking crack cocaine. So if he wasn’t mentally ill, the drugs would definitely be impacting him.”

Shortly after the incident, background information on Zehaf-Bibeau’s criminal and drug history flooded the media. I’m not sure why Rashid felt the need to comment so flippantly on the drug usage without adding specific information to the matter other than the fact that the shooter “has a history.” Was the shooter using drugs while attending the mosque?

Last, we learned that the shooter attempted to sleep at the mosque on at least two occasions. According to Rashid, the shooter was asked not to return to the mosque and the locks were changed.

This doesn’t sit quite right …

  • If the shooter was attempting to sleep or reside at the mosque, why not call the police?
  • Another issue comes up concerning the changing of locks: Why was Zehaf-Bibeau given a key in the first place? A possible scenario would consist of several members of the mosque having keys to a particular room/building (a gym, prayer room, etc). If this were the case, a lock change would be much more costly and therefore more weird.
  • If the above scenario is not the case, why did Zehaf-Bibeau have a key in the first place?
  • Finally, I find it unusual that a mosque that prided itself on its “openness” to Muslims and non-Muslims opted to change the locks on an attendee.

FYI: Aasim Rashid, a mufti – in short, an expert of Muslim law – is a mere representative of 15 mosques and schools in British Columbia. We can’t call him a lawyer, but … he sure was convincing, wasn’t he? He’s not on staff at the Burnaby mosque, however. Most likely, the other man at the table that hasn’t said a word is. Regardless, I’m confident that what Rashid said in the press conference is what most Canadians and Americans wanted to hear. Hell, it made ME feel better. But it’s near impossible to judge whether these things were sincere or not. However, with the concept of taqiyaa understood, I must plow onward with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2: Radical Ties:

  • The Burnaby mosque’s link to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing
  • A recent terrorism charge of another attendee of same mosque
  • Also – How Canada’s Combating Terrorism Act is double-edged sword & implications

*The name “Aasim Rashid” could not be found on the BC Muslim Association website, although he is listed as the current Director of Religion and Islamic Education on his personal website.