As Muslim worshipers began to gather before noon for Friday prayers at the
Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, most expressed dismay and skepticism about
the arrest of one of their own community, Muhammad Salah.

They dismissed the charges of terrorism as a political ploy intended to
influence the November presidential election.

Salah, one of three men whose indictment was announced Friday by Atty. Gen.
John Ashcroft, was arrested Thursday afternoon a few miles from the
Bridgeview mosque.

Men on work breaks for Friday prayers and women dressed in traditional head
scarves, with children in tow, said they reject the accusation that Salah,
who lives on the top floor of a three-flat a block from the mosque, was
involved in funding acts of terrorism in Israel.

“He has been just like any other member of the mosque, living and praying
in the community. I saw him yesterday or the day before,” said Rafeeq
Jaber, a board member of the Mosque Foundation and president of the Islamic
Association of Palestine.

Jaber called the allegations against Salah laughable but predictable. And
like many people at prayers Friday, he said Ashcroft engineered Salah’s
indictment in an attempt to help the Bush administration politically.

“They obviously cannot find anything against Muslims in the war on terror,
so they go after Muslims supporting the Palestinians,” he said. “How
dangerous is this man? He’s been living here for 30 years, and now he can’t
even find a job to make a living…


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