Did Radical Islamic Leadership in Boston Influence Marathon Bombers?

charles and ilya headshots

For ten years we have been warning Boston politicians, media, civic and religious leaders in Boston about the radical nature of the Islamic Society of Boston at whose Cambridge mosque the two terrorist brothers sometimes attended.  What will it take to end this dangerous silence?

What is it going to take to end the dangerous silence?

charles and ilya headshots

“This is alarming, but I’d need to see a smoking gun.” That’s what a Boston Rabbi said after we’d spent an hour in his office walking him through mounds of evidence that linked the leaders of the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) to terrorism and hate speech against Jews and Christians. He wouldn’t speak publicly about the radical leadership of the ISB mosque, he explained, for fear of giving offense, for fear of breaking with a certain understanding about these things, for fear of being labeled a bigot.

For 10 years, this reluctance to speak honestly about the radicalization of the once-moderate Boston Muslim community has epitomized the thinking of many civic leaders in Boston.

We don’t know yet how the two Chechen terrorists became radical Islamists, but their uncle has said they had local “mentors.” The bombs that went off at the Boston Marathon and the subsequent news that the terrorist brothers attended the ISB mosque in Cambridge – which was only blocks from their apartment – should shatter this kind of thinking.

Here is some of what we know, much of which we’ve been telling Boston leaders for the past decade:


boston officials

Elected officials including Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (forefront) and Gov. Deval Patrick (back row, center), seen here following last week’ Boston Marathon bombings, have been largely silent as radicals took over the once- moderate Boston Muslim community.


The problem is the radicalization of Boston’s historically moderate Muslim community. The ISB mosque is operated by the Muslim American Society (MAS), which has been identified by federal prosecutors as the American front for the Muslim Brotherhood. The ISB was founded by Abdurahman Alamoudi, who is currently serving a 23- year prison sentence for raising funds for al-Qaida. Alamoudi has publicly exclaimed his support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

According to IRS records, one of the ISB’s original trustees was Yusuf Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who said in a 1995 speech that Islam would “conquer America” and “conquer Europe.” Qaradawi can be seen on YouTube urging Muslims to kill homosexuals and slaughter Jews.

The ISB mosque’s website contained instructions on how to beat one’s wife.

According to FBI surveillance documents, Suhaib Webb, the Imam of the ISB’s Roxbury campus, joined al-Qaida operative Anwar Awlaki (killed by a U.S drone strike in 2011) two days before the Sept. 11 attacks in headlining a fundraiser on behalf of Atlanta Islamic extremist H. Rap Brown, who had just murdered two police officers in Georgia. Brown had converted to Islam and taken the name Jamil al-Amin. That night, Webb and Awlaki raised $100,000 to pay for Brown’s defense. Brown was found guilty of the murders. Awlaki went on to become the leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and was assassinated by a U.S. drone strike in 2011 in Yemen. It was Awlaki who published al-Qaida’s Inspire magazine, which explained how to make the pressure-cooker bomb used by the Boston Marathon bombers to wreak their murderous mayhem. Awlaki urged American Muslims to attack soft targets and crowded sporting events.

We have obtained a Muslim Brotherhood indoctrination curriculum taught by the MAS and endorsed by Imam Suhaib Webb for indoctrination of Boston’s young Muslims. The curriculum teaches vicious hatred and calls for young Muslims to engage in Jihad against non-Muslims in order to establish a global Islamic state.



Above: President Barack Obama attends the April 18 interfaith service in Boston to remember the three spectators killed and scores wounded in the Boston Marathon bombings.

A Boston Imam who had been scheduled to attend was disinvited by Gov. Deval Patrick. Right: According to the FBI, a local Imam joined al-Qaida operative Anwar Awlaki (pictured) two days before the Sept. 11 attacks in headlining a fundraiser on behalf of Atlanta Islamic extremist H. Rap Brown. We have presented most of our findings to the Anti-Defamation League, New England Region (ADL); to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) and Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) of Boston; to Boston Globe religion writer Lisa Wangsness, as well as that publication’s Spotlight Team; to City Councilor Mike Ross, then President of the council; and to many other religious, political, and civic leaders in Massachusetts. Until last week, all of the facts we garnered did not move those who clung to the belief that any criticism of any Muslim leader here was a sign of bigotry. In response to our concerns, we were publicly attacked as bigots by 70 Rabbis for criticizing one of their colleagues for publicly embracing a leader of the ISB.

For 10 years, Boston’s leaders went along with the politically correct flow. They kept silent as radicals took over the once-moderate Boston Muslim community. They failed to lead and failed to educate the public. They – including Mayor Thomas Menino and Gov. Deval Patrick – embraced the radical leadership of Boston’s Muslim community.

One of the positive results of our efforts: Both the JCRC and CJP broke off their dialogue with the ISB leaders. But they did it silently and never explained their reasons publicly to their constituents. They never educated Boston’s Jews – or anyone else – about the facts they had learned that convinced them that the ISB leaders were not the moderates they had pretended to be.

Now, after the April 15 bombings, there is some hope that just maybe things are starting to change. Webb was originally invited by Gov. Patrick to be part of an interfaith memorial vigil at the Holy Cross Cathedral for the victims of the Boston Marathon attack, at which President Barack Obama spoke. In a last-minute change of plans, the Imam was disinvited. Patrick should be commended.


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Anwar al-Awlaki


The status quo must change and Boston’s other leaders must follow the Governor’s lead in disassociating themselves from radical Islamist institutions in the city. Political correctness has guided many of our leaders. If not abandoned, it may well become our own suicide belt.

Charles Jacobs is President of Americans for Peace and Tolerance (peaceandtolerance.org) and Ilya Feoktistov is the organiztion’s Director of Research.

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