The imam of the Newburgh mosque,Salahuddin Muhammad , where the Bronx-plot terror cell was organized has worked for more than 20 years in the New York state prison system converting inmates to Islam — and was hired by the radical Muslim chaplain banned for praising the 9/11 hijackers.
Imam Salahuddin Muhammad is the spiritual leader of the Masjid Al-Ikhlas, the Newburgh mosque where the four terrorist wannabes met. Muhammad also has worked as a prison chaplain at Fishkill Correctional Facility since 1985, Fishkill was constructed in 1896, it began as the Mattawan State Hospital for the criminally insane — alleged Bronx terrorist James Cromitie was imprisoned there in 1991.
Warith Deen Umar is a Muslim cleric who, prior to his retirement in 2000, spent some twenty years helping to run New York’s growing Islamic prison program, recruiting and training dozens of chaplains (Salahuddin Muhammad ), and ministering to thousands of inmates himself. With help from the Saudi government, he traveled to Saudi Arabia and brought that country’s harsh form of Islam to New York’s expanding ranks of Muslim prisoners.
He continues to visit New York state prisons as a volunteer chaplain. He believes that the 9/11 hijackers should be honored as martyrs, and that the U.S. risks further terrorism attacks because it oppresses Muslims around the world. “Without justice, there will be warfare, and it can come to this country, too,” he says.
Viewing African American prisoners as the natural candidates to help initiate such an attack, Imam Umar says the focus of his preaching usually “is on work, family and getting an education,” but he also says that prison “is the perfect recruitment and training grounds for radicalism and the Islamic religion.” Umar adds, “There is more happening in this country than most people know about,” he says regarding the Muslim anger that is quietly building behind bars and on the outside. “Prisons are a powder keg. The question is the ignition.”
Even Muslims who say they are against terrorism secretly admire and applaud” the hijackers, Umar wrote in an unpublished memoir. The Koran, he said, does not condemn terrorism against oppressors of Muslims, even if innocent people die. “This is the sort of teaching they don’t want in prison,” he said. “But this is what I’m doing.”
According to a 2003 column in the Wall Street Journal, a protégé of Umar’s was a man named Salahuddin M. Muhammad, hired by Umar to serve as chaplain at the Fishkill Correctional Facility where alleged Bronx terrorist James Cromitie was imprisoned in 1991. Today, Muhammad is an imam at the Masjid Al-Ikhlas in Newburg, NY, where the first conversation about attacking American between defendant James Cromitie and the FBI informant took place (Muhammad is not named in the criminal complaint).
Authorities say Muslim terrorist Onta Williams fell in with his three alleged co-conspirators, James Cromitie, 45, David Williams, 28, and 37-year-old Laguerre Payen, at the Newburgh Masjid Al-Ikhlas mosque, where they bonded when they discovered they were all ex-cons. “All this happened when he became a Muslim in prison,” said Onta Williams’ uncle, Richard Williams