An imam from Maryland has been caught up in an investigation for allegedly helping a Detroit Muslim acquire military-grade weapons and fight for ISIS in its jihad waged against the West.
After uncovering an alleged “arsenal” of weapons in Sebastian Gregerson’s home, the FBI is expanding its investigation of the convert to Islam – who changed his name to Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl. It now includes the suspect Suleiman Bengharsa, an imam from Clarksburg, Maryland, who reportedly used charitable donations from his mosque to finance Gregerson’s deadly cache.
It is now believed that Gregerson received money from Suleiman to pay for two AK-47s, seven assault rifles, several grenades, tactical knives, a shotgun and thousands of rounds of ammunition, according to The Detroit News, which announced that new details about the case have surfaced about the FBI investigation spanning three states – as divulged through 200 pages of sealed federal court records.
More details …
A larger trail is surfacing as the ongoing investigation continues.
“The investigation started about 18 months ago but bore fruit on July 31 when Gregerson was arrested near his Detroit home after allegedly buying fragmentation grenades from an undercover FBI agent,” WND reports. “It is unclear whether imam Bengharsa was financing weapons purchases in other parts of the country, but WND sources, including retired Homeland Security officer Philip Haney, say this type of financing involving American mosques happens all the time.”
American mosques funding jihad is reportedly nothing out of the ordinary, as Haney shared with WND that one-eighth of all charitable donations – also known as “zakat” – made to mosques are required under Shariah law to finance global jihad. It was also noted that of the 3,000 mosques in America, about 80 percent of them are funded by arguably the most Shariah-compliant nation in the world – Saudi Arabia.
According to one FBI agent who was mentioned by The Detroit News, the Michigan and Maryland suspects were in the midst of plotting a terrorist act that could involve more jihadis and more states, including Virginia.
“Based on the totality of the aforementioned information and evidence, there is reason to believe that Bengharsa and Gregerson are engaged in discussions and preparations for some violent act on behalf of (the Islamic State),” the federal agent explained in a search warrant application dated January 7.
When an inquiry about the investigation was made by the Michigan daily to Behgharsa, the Muslim leader said he was not an ISIS supporter, while laughing and scoffing at the FBI’s allegations, which he said were “ridiculous” – dismissing the charges against him as a Muslim witch hunt. He insisted that he would rather be locked up in prison than live in a country that reverts to McCarthyism.
“It feels like McCarthyism,” Bengharsa told The Detroit News before denying the allegations. “No, no, no, that is absolutely untrue. It might appear that way. I am an advocate of the United States and the West getting the hell out of the Middle East and the Muslim world. It’s ridiculous. All I can say is it’s ridiculous. If this was the case, why haven’t they come to arrest me?”
Haney, who authored the best-selling book See Something Say Nothing, called Bengharsa’s response brazen and misleading.
“People will say, ‘Oh, Sharia doesn’t teach that,’” the expert on Islam explained. “Well, one-eighth Muslim charitable contributions are obligated according to Shariah to go to the support of jihad, which means if this imam is gathering money up to buy hardware, like grenades and guns, then he’s doing it in accordance with Shariah. And according to The Detroit News article, he’s an expert in Shariah.”
Furthermore, as the founder and director of the Islamic Jurisprudence Center (IJC), which operates as an independent legal resource to increase understanding of Shariah law near Baltimore, Bengharsa is argued to be anything but a moderate or peace-loving Muslim. In fact, the Detroit newspaper divulged that the imam’s center has issued a number of “fatwas” – also known as religious edicts – with one requiring Muslims to condemn those who support the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as being a bunch of disbelievers and traitors to the god of Islam, Allah.
IJC’s website proclaims the violent and oppressive Shariah law to be above and beyond all other laws, including the United States Constitution.
“(Islamic Jurisprudence Center) management firmly believes and propagates that Islamic law is divine law, and therefore, unequivocally superior to man-made laws,” the website reads.
Haney insists that Bengharsa is falsely crying innocence and misleading others to believe that he is suffering from religious discrimination.
“He actually presents himself as a Shariah-compliant imam, but he is using taqiyya, a defensive response, when questioned by the newspaper,” Haney pointed out to WND. “He responds to the allegations, saying it’s ridiculous, that it feels like McCarthyism, pushing it on us, he’s the victim, an innocent victim, and we are the oppressors. It’s a wonderful arrangement [and a favorite tactic of the Muslim Brotherhood]. Victims are never responsible for anything they do. And that’s exactly what the imam’s position is: ‘We’re not at fault, they’re persecuting us, we’re the victims.'”
Haney then reiterated the imam’s words, “If that’s what this country has come to, [I’d rather be in jail],” to support his own claim that jihadists say just about anything to cover themselves.
“This is how bold they are now,” Haney impressed, adding that Bengharsa has been well trained to deploy classic Islamic deception while living in a non-Islamic society. “He’s throwing it in our face that he’d rather go to jail.”
Haney then stressed a passage found in the Quran (8:60), which reads “prepare to strongly terrorize your enemy,” emphasizing that a main tenet of the Brotherhood is the word “prepare” – something he contends that Bengharsa has done since he has yet to be charged as the investigation moves forward.
But former FBI counterterrorism specialist John Guandolo and others committed to America’s national security argue that despite their good arguments and deceptions, the law of the land reigns supreme … no Shariah law and its followers.
“In the real world, evidence matters,” Guandolo, who founded the website UnderstandingTheThreat.com, shared with WND. “Yet another Islamic leader is found to be directly involved with jihad on behalf of some named jihadi group, all for the sake of Islam. He joins the ranks of Alamoudi, Awlaki, and so many others. And he does it all while laughing at us and throwing ‘McCarthyism’ in our face. Our leaders will probably apologize to him for executing the legal search warrant based on facts.”
And as the investigation continues, more evidence appears to be mounting against Gregerson and Bengharsa.
“Search warrant affidavits that revealed the focus on the imam were briefly unsealed in federal court in Detroit this week and obtained by The News before a federal magistrate resealed them,” WND’s Leo Hohmann reported. “The affidavits show that FBI counterterrorism agents have spent months analyzing bank records, social media accounts, phone records, emails and messages involving Gregerson, 29, and the imam.”
After reviewing the backgrounds of Gregerson and Bengharsa, their connections in an Islamic terrorist network become more evident to many.
“Gregerson is an Islamic State supporter who allegedly told undercover FBI agents that he fantasized about killing local Muslim religious leaders and others,” Hohmann pointed out. “Gregerson is being held without bond and faces up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted of the weapons charges. He has not been charged with a terror-related crime amid the ongoing investigation.”
Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning informed the Detroit daily that it is currently being investigated whether Behgharsa funded any other jihadists’ arsenals and if any new attacks are slated.
Even though the suspected Detroit militant appears to many to be an everyday family man, his roots in Islamist extremism are evident.
“Gregerson grew up near Ann Arbor and converted to Islam after high school” Hohmann maintained. “He is married, the father of 4-year-old twins and, until his arrest, worked retail at a Target store. Gregerson and the imam met about five years ago in Maryland, the FBI alleges. Gregerson lived in Windsor Mill, Maryland, from 2011 to 2014.”
Ties to the imam have also been found.
“Suleiman Bengharsa is the former imam of a mosque Gregerson attended while living in Maryland,” an affidavit written by an FBI agent reads.
The imam’s Linkedin page divulges that he was a leader at the Masjid Umar mosque in Woodlawn, Maryland, while Gregerson lived less than three miles away in his apartment, the Detroit paper revealed.
Meanwhile, the FBI maintains that Gregerson moved back to Detroit in 2015, when he began augmenting his cache of tactical knives.
“(Islamic State) members have used knives that appear similar to those purchased by Gregerson in beheadings, such as those seen in the videos of ‘Jihadi John’ beheading western hostages,” reads one search warrant affidavit composed by an FBI agent. “The nature of Gregerson’s purchases roughly correlate with instructions given by (the Islamic State) to individuals living in Western countries on how to prepare to commit violent jihad in those countries.”
Federal agents apparently have a good handle on Gregerson’s dealings over the past year.
“The FBI subpoenaed Gregerson’s phone records and learned he was in frequent phone contact with Bengharsa while amassing the arsenal,” Hohmann shared. “Bank records obtained by the FBI showed the imam wrote a $1,300 check to Gregerson on June 24, 2015. In the memo line on the check was the word ‘zakat,’ a word referring to the Muslim obligation to give charity, according to the FBI, [which also reported that] Gregerson cashed the check days later and deposited $800 in his checking account.”
Haney says that this could very likely be happening in a neighborhood near you.
“This is a very typical event,” Haney alerted WND. “You see this type of thing going on in many places around the world, where you see Islamic leaders or imams providing leadership, counsel, guidance, to members of the Islamic community. And one of the ways to become a better Muslim is to follow Shariah law. Violence is but one part of a spectrum of tactics used explicitly for the implementation of Shariah law; it’s a tactic. What you’re looking at in this story is a tactic for the ultimate implementation of Shariah law.”