On July 6, heavily-armed FBI agents reportedly raided the home of Shia cleric Mujahid Abdul-Karim at his home in Watts, South Los Angeles. According to a press release issued by Abdul-Karim's mosque, dozens of federal agents stormed the imam's residence at dawn, throwing flash grenades that shattered the house windows, and handcuffed Abdul-Karim and his family. Abdul-Karim has reportedly not been charged and he was released shortly after his detainment, although his computer was confiscated.
The account of this dramatic arrest has been provided by the supporters of Abdul Karim. The incident was also covered by media outlets based in Iran known to have strong ties with the regime and the Revolutionary Guards, such as the Tasnim News Agency. Abdul-Karim's supporters have been quick to claim anti-Muslim bigotry and racism are the reasons behind the court-authorized search.
However, Islamist Watch has obtained a copy of the search warrant.
The investigating agent's affidavit reveals that between 2013 and 2017, "The FBI determined that Karim or another individual at the subject premises [Karim's house] was searching for, and viewing, child pornography via the Internet." The court order's description of the internet searches is extremely disturbing.
It is important to point out that Abdul-Karim has not yet been charged. The search warrant itself, however, reveals some other interesting details. According to the investigating agent, the FBI only became aware of the child pornography because: "in connection to an unrelated investigation, the FBI was conducting court authorized surveillance on the KARIM Internet account." It appears that since 2012, or possibly earlier, the FBI has been investigating Abdul-Karim for other reasons. But on what grounds?
It is particularly interesting that only Iranian state media has seriously reported the FBI's raid of Abdul-Karim's home. If the violent nature of Abdul-Karim's arrest is true, one possibility is that the FBI's main interest in Abdul-Karim is part of a wider clamp-down on Iranian regime and Hezbollah activity in the United States.
In June, federal agents charged Ali Kourani in New York and Samer Eldebek in Michigan with attempting to obtain weaponry for Hezbollah and planning attacks on American and Israeli targets. The US Congress, meanwhile, is currently introducing new sanctions against Hezbollah. The recent conclusion of a federal court case over an Iranian foundation in New York that laundered money for the regime has accompanied renewed accusations from the U.S. government over Iran's top billing as a state-sponsor of terror.
While there is no indication that Abdul-Karim is linked with any violent activity, the imam and his mosque are not shy about their links to the Iranian regime. Abdul-Karim (born Benjamin Farmer) is a former Black Panther member who converted to Islam in the 1970s. He is the founder and Imam of the Al-Rasul mosque in Watts, which serves black converts to Shia Islam. Abdul-Karim famously oversaw the Watts Gang Truce of April 1992, in which the rival Blood and Crips gangs agreed to a ceasefire that was ratified at Masjid al-Rasul.
Having converted to Shia Islam in the early 1980s, from 1983 to 1990, Abdul-Karim lived in Iran's holy city of Qom. While there, he reportedly attended several lectures given by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini and reportedly met with high-ranking regime ayatollahs and politicians such as Ali Khamenei (now Iran's Supreme Leader), Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohammed Khatami and Ahmad Jannati.
Today, the Masjid al-Rasul's homepage contains links to the websites of Iran's most prominent regime ayatollahs, including those of Khamenei, Naser Shirazi and Bashir Najafi, all known for their violently anti-Western and anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Najafi and Sistani's websites claim that non-Muslims should be avoided as they are "impure" and "unclean" while Khamenei's website calls upon Muslims worldwide to "carry out jihad in whatever possible form" against Israel. Shirazi, meanwhile, is a prominent Holocaust denier.
In addition, Abdul-Karim's Masjid al-Rasul and its various branches have repeatedly associated with Iran-backed speakers and groups. In November 2012, the Masjid al-Rasul invited Sheikh Ahmed Haneef to speak. Haneef is an official of the Islamic Center of England, which is run by Ayatollah Abdolhussein Moezi, Khamenei's official representative in Britain.
In July 2014, Masjid al-Rasul's branch in Houston welcomed Hamza Sodagar, a Shi'ite imam who condemns democracy and pluralism, advocates killing homosexuals, and promotes the Iranian regime's conspiracy theories that Israel controls the world economy and deliberately orchestrated 9/11. Sodagar, who frequently appears in Iran state media, works closely with the Ahlul Bayt World Assembly, a regime organization that has defended Sodagar's extremist rhetoric.
In August 2014, Abdul-Karim appeared at the annual Muslim Congress in Dallas, Texas, an event established in 2005 by the regime-run Islamic Education Center, and which frequently hosts pro-Khomeini speakers. The list goes on.
Islamist Watch reached out to Masjid al-Rasul for comment. We have received no response. A fundraising page for Abdul-Karim, set up by his supporters in the wake of the FBI raid, has raised over $5000.