Law-enforcement officials are turning to the community for leads in the recent vandalism at the Islamic Center at 1428 E. Broad St.
Finding who caused the damage, which members discovered Dec. 30 when they arrived at the mosque for morning prayer, "is going to hinge on someone knowing something giving us a call," said Columbus Police Cmdr. Paul Denton. The FBI joined the investigation last week but has no comment about it, said Brian W. Lynch, supervisory agent for the bureau's Columbus office.
Damage to the mosque is estimated at $100,000. That includes torn Qurans and extensive water damage that occurred after the vandals ripped plumbing from a bathroom wall and stopped up a sink to flood the three-story building.
On Friday, Denton said, Muslim leaders told authorities about previous threatening calls and hate mail received at the mosque.
Most came shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but one typewritten letter arrived about three days before the vandalism, said Jad Humeidan, executive director of the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The letter warned mosque members
to get out of the country…
…The Islamic Foundation, which manages the mosque, and the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus are offering a $5,000 reward for information about the vandalism. Columbus police are encouraging anyone with
information to call Crime Stoppers, 614-645-TIPS (8477).
O'REILLY: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, we told you in the Talking Points memo that some security screeners at the airports are using very poor judgment, to say the least.
Now comes a case from the Baltimore-Washington airport where a Northwest Airlines screener forced a 17-year-old Muslim high school student to remove her head covering. Joining us now from Washington is Ibrahim Hooper, the communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
All right. So this high school student was wearing a head covering, which, in the Muslim religion, is a sign of modesty, and these guys wanted to see what was underneath it, right?
IBRAHIM HOOPER, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Yes. I -- the point isn't so much that it was -- that would -- they asked her to remove it. If they had taken her to a private area and asked -- a female guard had been there and asked her to check out the head scarf or whatever, that wouldn't have been a problem.
The problem was, a 17-year-old high school student being surrounded by soldiers in camouflage uniforms with M-16s and being forced to remove what we consider to be a religiously mandated head scarf…
OTHER CAIR MEDIA APPEARANCES:
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad appeared last night on ABC's "Nightline"
CAIR Civil Rights Coordinator Hodan Hassan appeared this morning on CNN's AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN.
HOST: Hodan Hassan, do you view this incident as racial profiling?
HODAN HASSAN, AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Well, it could be racial profiling. I think our issue with this particular incident is that rather than have her have to take off her veil in public, this should have been
done in the privacy of a screening room, a room or maybe a screened off area. This isn't the first case. We've actually had at least 13 other cases of women who have contacted CARE and said that they were forced to remove their scarves in public.
HOST: I'm sorry. We had a case of a U.S. congressman in the last day or two, John Dingle, who was forced to strip down to his shorts because an artificial hip set off a metal detector. You know, there is heightened security in this country in the wake of the events of 9-11. What would you like to see happen as a result of this? Are you planning legal action? Do you want an apology? What'll it take to make this right?
HASSAN: Yes, there's no, at this point, consideration of legal action. What we're asking, what our organization is asking on behalf of Mrs. Sarsour is that first that there be an apology to her and her family, that there be an investigation of this incident and more importantly that there be some clear guidelines set as to how searches should be conducted, in this case of Muslim women …
Did you pack your bags yourself? Have they been out of your possession? The questions asked of airline passengers aren't designed to trip up a terrorist, and that raises another question: Should passenger
questioning be tougher?
Israel's airline, El Al, routinely interrogates passengers boarding its flights, often probing their background and travel plans. But its operation is a tiny fraction of the U.S. aviation system, and El Al's painstaking
security methods would not transfer easily to U.S. airlines.
Some aviation security experts say tougher questioning could be a valuable tool in the United States, at least in theory. In practice, they admit, it would be unfeasible to subject all U.S. passengers to such interrogation and difficult to find an acceptable method of selecting a subset of travelers to be grilled. Mary Schiavo, a former Transportation Department inspector general and now a lawyer for victims of airline accidents, said intensified questioning would be worth trying - but only after expert profilers developed an effective set of questions.
"We'd like to see a more scientific basis," she said. "Just delaying people while we ask more inane questions won't get us anywhere."
She stressed that authorities would have to develop sound criteria for electing some passengers for thorough questioning.
"There's no way in the United States that you can ever do it on the basis of national origin or race," she said. "We're a melting pot."
El Al has no compunctions about profiling - Arabs, even if Israeli citizens, and some foreigners routinely come under closer scrutiny than most Israeli Jews. While many passengers are asked only about their luggage, others might be asked to explain their itinerary or past travels recorded in their passports.
In the United States, Arab-Americans and civil liberties groups see pitfalls in emulating El Al.
"I don't know if that's a road we want to go down - Israelizing our air transportation system," said Ibrahim Hooper of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. "We've always been in favor of heightened security for everyone - not offering an illusion of security by singling out people on the basis of ethnicity."