More consumption for those of you who live to toast a lethargic homeland defense. With the arrest of a Philadelphia taxi cab driver in the Fort Dix terror plot, there are a sprinkling of reports that certain authorities are paying closer attention to Muslim cabbies, many of whom are militant believers, say these authorities. My question is, "What have these authorities been doing up until now? Playing tiddy winks?" Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, a U.S. citizen born in Jordan, was charged earlier this week with conspiring to kill at least 100 soldiers on U.S. soil. The FBI says that the 22-year-old, the alleged mastermind of the terror plot, drove a cab in Philadelphia, and is quoted as having stated, "My intent is to hit a heavy concentration of soldiers."
It is estimated that Muslims account for the majority of cab drivers in many major U.S. citiesincluding the nation's capital. And more than a passing number of them have solid ties to terrorism, federal and local authorities say. After September 11, the U.S. Park Police, which enforces laws on federal roads leading into such places as CIA headquarters, as well as, in and around the Federal enclave including such buildings as as the US Capitol and the White House, ran a search of Islamic terror suspects against a database of traffic stops in the Washington, D.C., area going back decades.
The probe came back with a nearly 25 percent hit rate. A U.S. Park Police official stated that many of these were cab drivers."
The official, a veteran police detective who wished to go unidentified, says roughly 80 percent of cab drivers in the Washington area practice the Islamic faith. Their numbers concern police, who believe they make up part of the terror support network in America. "If they're not suspects themselves, they pick up suspects at airports and take them to safehouses here. It's a jihadi network."
Nhe federal Park Police work with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies assigned to the National Counter Terrorism Center, or NCTC, headquartered in McLean, Va., a Washington suburb. The FBI is now closely monitoring the activities of taxi drivers in the area, bureau sources confirm.
A great many of them worship at the large Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va., another D.C. suburb. On Fridays, FBI case agents say they typically observe 50 or more cabs and limos parked among other cars in the parking lots used by the radical mosque, which has included several Hamas and al-Qaida terrorists among its members.
Some of the 9/11 hijackers also attended services at Dar al-Hijrah, while receiving assistance obtaining housing and IDs from mosque members and officials, some of whom are admitted members of the dangerous Muslim Brotherhood. In between fares, many taxi drivers congregate at the Starbucks located down the road in a shopping center in Baileys Crossroads, which has the highest concentration of Muslims of any area outside Dearborn, Mich.
The shopping center is within a few miles of the Pentagon, and right across the street from two luxury apartment high-rises that erupted into cheers when the World Trade Center fell on 9/11. Law enforcement has dubbed the Skyline Towers the "Taliban Towers" after conducting several counterterrorism investigations involving tenants.
Washington is not alone. Other major cities are dealing with radical Muslim taxi drivers. Elsewhere on this front, Miami-Dade County Police Department officials have admitted that after 9/11 a group of Muslim cab drivers at Miami International Airport held a celebration on a carpeted area of the concourse reserved for Islamic prayer. Some were overheard allegedly saying, "Finally, the Great Satan got what it deserved."
"They brought out party platters," a Miami-Dade police detective said. "We tried to ID the taxi drivers who celebrated and give their names to the FBI." New York also has had its share of "taxi jihadists," as law enforcement calls them. Take Mahmud "The Red" Abouhalima, a former Manhattan cabbie. He helped plant the explosives-packed van that the terrorists used to try to blow up the World Trade Center in the first attack on the towers in 1993. Those who knew him say he transformed his cab into a mobile Islamic institute, filled with copies of the Quran, jihadi books and tapes of sermons recorded in Arabic.
Like the Jersey jihadists accused of targeting Fort Dix, Abouhalima lived in New Jersey, which has a large Muslim population. Police believe he also was the intended getaway cab driver in the murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane.
More recently, in Nashville, a Muslim cab driver for United Cab this year was charged with assault and attempted homicide. Ibrahim Ahmed allegedly tried to run down two Vanderbilt University students. One was seriously injured.
Surprisingly, the 9/11 attacks emboldened many Islamic taxi drivers. In Minneapolis, for instance, they've asserted the tenets of their faith, refusing airport passengers carrying duty-free wine and even blind riders accompanied by seeing-eye dogs. Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and dogs are considered unclean. About three of every four cabbies at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport practice Islam. Even after authorities last month agreed to slap fines on them for refusing "infidel" fares, some refuse to bend. "I am Muslim. I'm not going to carry alcohol," insisted Abdi Mohamed, a driver for Bloomington Cab.
Savvy to the American game of special status for minority whiners, Muslim taxi drivers also have demanded special accommodations at airports. In Kansas City, for one, airport authorities recently built several foot-baths in a restroom for Muslim drivers after they requested them to help them prepare for Islamic prayer. Kansas City International Airport police report that about 70 percent of the taxi drivers there are Muslim.
A great many taxi drivers are immigrants from the Mideast or Pakistan. Last November, Homeland Security agents rounded up dozens of Pakistani immigrants across the East Coast working illegally as cabbies. Pakistan is an al-Qaida hotbed. Before last year's congressional election, a U.S. lawmaker was widely criticized for suggesting Muslim cabbies were a terrorist threat.
Republican Sen. Conrad Burns said the U.S. is up against a faceless enemy of terrorists who "drive taxi cabs in the daytime and kill at night." The longtime senator, often in hot water as a result of his own unfortunate wit, lost his seat to Democrat Jon Tester in 2006.
There is little room for these Somali taxi drivers to maneuver under the US Disabilities Act. It is clearly illegal under the ADA in the United States to engage in such activities. If a driver wants a debate, he can hire counsel and face a prosecutor in a court of law. Any case brought to trial would only examine the facts of the case in respect to the law. Did the defendant deny access to a cab to a disabled person, due to their having a service dog? The answer would be yes. Was the cab driver told by the disabled person that the dog in question was a service dog? The answer would be, yes, again. After being informed of this, did the cab driver still deny access to the disabled person with the service dog? The answer would be yes. When applying for a cab medallion or cab business license, is the individual licensee or company informed of the relevant portions Civil Rights Act of 1964 (with amendments) and the Americans with Disabilites of 1990. The answer would be yes. I think the defendant would probably settle out of court on the advice of their attorney, rather than pursue an unmeritorious case. The cab driver would wind up paying a fine and agreeing to allow service dogs into the cab in the future, or would pay the fine and leave the taxi cab business for good. That would and should be the outcome.