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Michigan Man Admits To Burning Qurans

By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

DETROIT– A Detroit man born in Iraq who says he has a history of psychological problems has admitted to burning Qurans in Dearborn, Mich., on three separate occasions over the past month.

Ali Hassan Al-Asadi, 51, was arrested on June 25 outside the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center in Dearborn after he burned a Quran while holding a wooden club, Dearborn Police Lt. Douglas Topolski said Monday.

Al-Asadi told police he burned another Quran earlier that day in Dearborn and three Qurans on June 10 outside the Karbalaa center, Topolski said.

The June 10 burning sparked concern as it came a few days before Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones of Florida visited Dearborn. During Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s recent visit to Dearborn, he condemned the burnings outside the Karbalaa center, which serves the Iraqi-American Shia community.

Al-Asadi was charged with littering and the release of soot, both misdemeanors. He was released on a $500 bond after pleading guilty and faces a sentencing on Aug. 5 in 19th District Court in Dearborn.

Referring to the police report, Topolski said al-Asadi contended “a high-ranking official in the mosque defrauded him out of a large sum of money, and when he asked for it, he was belittled, humiliated, and hit with shoes.” The police report doesn’t specify which mosque.

Speaking Monday to the Detroit Free Press, al-Asadi said that he burned a dozen Qurans over the past year at several locations because he has increasingly negative views about Muslims in general and because he had a financial dispute with an Iraqi-American Muslim.

Al-Asadi said he was raised in Iraq as a Shia Muslim, but converted to Christianity and attends local churches. Al-Asadi said he immigrated to the United States in the 1990s, part of a wave of Iraqi Shias who came to metro Detroit as political refugees escaping the government of Saddam Hussein.

Al-Asadi said he developed “severe psychological trauma anxiety” in Iraq after treating injured Iraqi soldiers in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Al-Asadi said he was a doctor in Iraq, but is on disability. Al-Asadi said he was admitted to a psychiatric center last year in Detroit and takes psychiatric medication.

Imam Husham al-Husainy, head of the Karbalaa center, thanked police for arresting the man who burned Qurans outside his center. Al-Husainy said he doesn’t know al-Asadi.

Photo via WikiCommons

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U.S. Cleric Popular With Militants Faces Travel, Social Media Restrictions

By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — A federal judge has cracked down on the travel and computer activities of a Dearborn, Mich., cleric popular worldwide with the extremist militant group that announced last week the formation of an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen ordered that Ahmad Jebril, 43, stay within the eastern half of Michigan and tell his probation officer about his activity on social media accounts, if requested.

Jebril, who is on probation until March after serving 6.5 years in prison on fraud convictions, has become the most popular religious figure for Western fighters flocking to Syria to battle its government — and continues to gain fans online who sympathize with the group that now calls itself the Islamic State.

The group has drawn increasing concern since it seized control of Mosul, Iraq, and declared last week an Islamic caliphate, telling Muslims around the world to come and support them. The Islamic State also is active in Syria; al-Qaida distanced itself from the group in February, saying it was too extreme.

The court order doesn’t restrict what Jebril can say online but requires him to get approval to use any computer equipment and to hand over his passwords for all accounts, among other restrictions. Rosen wrote that there will be zero tolerance of any infractions.
Rosen’s June 5 order came after a probation report in May that said Jebril violated the terms of his probation by lying about the location of a post office box in Dearborn Heights and not telling authorities he was speaking in November at two universities and a mosque in North Carolina.

The probation report, filed the week after a Detroit Free Press report detailed how Jebril is popular with western fighters with the militant group, also noted that Jebril told his probation officer he was going to Raleigh, N.C., “for a short vacation to visit friends.”

But the probation officer found out he was instead visiting to speak about Islam at East Carolina University, North Carolina State University and the Islamic Association of Raleigh. The officer said Jebril was unable to prove who paid for his trips.

Rosen’s order now requires Jebril to be monitored using GPS technology.

The order also said Jebril “shall only access a computer approved by the U.S. Probation Department” and can be subjected to searches of his home and vehicles.

Jebril and his attorney Rita Chastang did not return calls seeking comment on Rosen’s order. A tweet on June 21 from Jebril’s Twitter account appeared to criticize restrictions on him, saying: “Through perverted means they lift their legs to urinate on their statue of ‘freedom of speech,’ when it comes to the speech of a Muwahid,” a word that describes a Muslim.

Since his release, Jebril has built up an international following with his sermons, some of which contain inflammatory rhetoric against the West and people who are not Sunni Muslims.

In a video uploaded June 29, Jebril’s lecture included a part where he attacked non-Muslims.

And in a tweet last month, he made fun of Shias, saying they look to President Barack Obama for help. In recent weeks, Iraqi Shias have asked the Obama administration for help to fight the militant group in Iraq, which consists of Sunnis.

Jebril was released from prison in 2012 after serving time for several counts of fraud worth almost $400,000; his offenses included trashing his rental properties in metro Detroit in order to collect insurance money and trying to bribe a juror.

AFP Photo/ Sabah Arar

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