Mosques Shaken by Ties to Terror Plot

May 16, 2007

Author: Alan Feuer

Source: The Detroit News

PHILADELPHIA -- On the southern wall of the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society here is a mural painted by local schoolchildren. In 18 languages -- from Arabic to Swahili -- it depicts the world's various ways of saying "love," "hope" and "peace."

The mosque is an immaculate structure, four stories high and with a colorful frieze adorned with ornamental arabesques. It is the best-kept building in its North Philadelphia neighborhood, a blighted urban landscape dominated by the crumbling brick pile of the abandoned Gretz brewery across the street.

On weekday mornings, students from the mosque's large religious school shoot hoops on two tidy basketball courts or slip down the cheerful plastic slides. Come Friday, there are so many taxi drivers arriving for midday worship that people joke it is difficult, in the rest of the city, to find a cab. It was here that Mohamad I. Shnewer, a Philadelphia cabdriver among the six men charged with planning to attack Fort Dix, would come to pray with his father, and where three other suspects, the brothers Eljvir, Shain and Dritan Duka, had recently begun repairing the roof.