Sharmila Devi
The National
June 2, 2009

The recent arrest of four New York men for allegedly plotting to attack Jewish centres raised fears among American Muslims the incident would reinforce extremist views of them as an ever-present danger in US society.

[efoods]The vast majority of American Muslims did not even consider the four men as real religious brothers, said Naim Baig, vice-president of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a community group started in 1974.

“We say there is no place for any terrorism in Islam, period. Some people abuse the faith out of their own tribal agendas. These four guys were not even practising Muslims. They had criminal backgrounds and some had girlfriends,” Mr Baig said.

This view of the plotters as outside mainstream Muslim society helps to explain why the alleged bomb plots were usurped by the financial crisis and its moral implications as the most discussed topic at last weekend’s three-day ICNA conference, attended by up to 12,000 people in Hartford, Connecticut.

Muslim community leaders have tried to distance themselves even more from the plotters in recent days, with many issuing statements of concern over the use of an informant by US law enforcement agencies to catch the men, who aimed to bomb two New York synagogues and shoot down military planes in Newburgh, about 110 kilometres north of the city.

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