Oops: Linda Sarsour's 'Mentor' Was Father of New Mexico Jihad Trainer


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The son of a “mentor” to liberal activist and Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour stands accused of running a camp in the New Mexico desert in which children were abused, neglected and radicalized, multiple news sources have reported.

The saga began in early August when authorities received a message saying, “We are starving and need food and water,” according to TheBlaze. That led the Taos County Sheriff’s Office to a compound where five adults and 11 children between 1 and 15 were being kept in absolute squalor — all, apparently, in the name of Islamist extremism.

“The father of a missing 3-year-old who was arrested at a New Mexico compound linked to ‘extremist Muslims’ last week was training children to commit school shootings, court documents filed on Wednesday revealed,” Fox News reported Thursday (emphasis added).

The investigation had begun after Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, a child with severe medical issues, was reported missing from Georgia last December.

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“Prosecutors allege Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 39, was conducting weapons training on the compound, where 11 children were found hungry and living in squalor,” Fox News reported. “They asked Wahhaj, who appeared in court on Wednesday, be held without bail.”

The news media jumped on the horrific details of the story, although some details seemed more important than others. For instance, the fact that Sarsour, had a very strong connection with Wahhaj’s father, who also happened to be a prominent Brooklyn imam, was pretty much glossed over

Here are some tweets she’s made over the past few years in support of Imam Siraj Wahhaj, a man the New York Post identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing:

It wasn’t just a matter of giving some social media power-daps, either. Sarsour would also engage in public conversations with the imam who, according to the Center for Security Policy, she has described as a “mentor, motivator, and encourager”:

Now, let me be the first to say I’m not accusing Sarsour of knowing that Imam Siraj’s son was allegedly running the jihadist version of the Spahn Movie Ranch. However, at some level, it beggars belief the Women’s March principal had no inkling she was dealing with someone whose beliefs on religion were extreme enough that his son would set up an operation like this.

Oh, and in case you hadn’t caught the subtext I’d only hinted at before, Imam Siraj’s son didn’t just set up shop in the New Mexico hinterlands because he was a wacky dude. If you missed the motive, you’re far from the only one. Let’s take NBC News’ treatment of it, starting with the first two paragraphs and the last two paragraphs.

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Is the mainstream media deliberately burying the terrorism connection in this story?

First the beginning: “The resident who owns the sprawling New Mexico land where a makeshift compound was discovered says he notified authorities about spotting a missing boy on his property, but they didn’t step foot on the grounds — until it was too late,” they reported Friday.

“Jason Badger owns the land in rural New Mexico where investigators raided a squalid compound last Friday while looking for Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, a toddler who was last seen in Jonesboro, Georgia, with his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj. They found the elder Wahhaj, four other adults and 11 starving children ages 1 to 15. But there was no sign of the boy.”

Stomach-churning stuff, you’ll admit. But in a sort of world-record attempt at burying the lede, the first mention of the motive appears in the last two paragraphs in a 19-paragraph story: “Few details are known about those living in the compound. After the raid, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said that a tactical unit had been sent because the residents were likely ‘heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief.’

Wahhaj identified himself as ‘the son of the famous Muslim Imam Siraj Wahhaj’ in a 2006 federal court filing obtained by The Associated Press. He said he was harassed by customs agents at New York’s Kennedy International Airport before and after a trip to Morocco, according to the AP.” (emphasis added)

That was pretty much the main attraction here — jihadists training children in the desert to commit school shootings as part of Islamic terrorism.

Instead, it got completely lost in a narrative where there was absolutely no space for that conclusion. And as for mentioning the connection to Linda Sarsour’s mentor — well, you don’t want to come across as prejudiced, do you?

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture