Friday, September 30
UPDATE:
Habib resigned earlier today.
THE TRULY UNBELIEVABLE:
"I don't believe it was 19 ... hijackers who did those attacks." Those are the words of the Saudi-educated Imam slated to be sworn in today as the second Muslim chaplain in the history of.......the NEW YORK CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT.

Newsday has the story of Intikab Habib:

Asked to elaborate on his [Habib's] reasons for doubting that story, he talked about video and news reports widely disseminated in the Muslim community.

"I've heard professionals say that nowhere ever in history did a steel building come down with fire alone," he said. "It takes two or three weeks to demolish a building like that. But it was pulled down in a couple of hours. Was it 19 hijackers who brought it down, or was it a conspiracy?"

Questioned about who he believed was responsible for the attacks, Habib said he didn't know. He said, however, that he did not expect to raise his doubts with rank-and-file firefighters -- nor did he share them two weeks ago when he participated in several Sept. 11 memorials on behalf of the Fire Department.

"My position as a chaplain is that whoever did it, it's a tragic incident," he said. "I feel sorrow for the families who lost loved ones and for the firefighters who died in it. Whoever did it, it was a very wrong thing. It's always wrong to take an innocent human life."

A spokesman for the Fire Department, Frank Gribbon, said that Habib was recommended by the department's Islamic Society and was hired "based on his credentials as a religious person. We don't ask new employees about their political views before we hire them."

Stephen Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, could not be reached for comment.

Habib's remarks about the attacks came in response to questions about whether he thought firefighters would accept a chaplain who had been educated in Saudi Arabia.

He said he did not expect that to be an issue because "I come from a country where you're accustomed to living with people of different ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds."

When pressed further about whether the hijackers' backgrounds -- 15 of whom were Saudi -- might make his training an issue for still-grieving firefighters, he went on to express his own doubts about the hijacker story.

Habib was one of several imams recommended for the chaplain's job by the Islamic Society for the Fire Department, as a result of his work teaching junior high students at Al-Ihsan Academy in Ozone Park, a private Islamic school, where he worked for about five years.

The craziness never seems to end. - T. Bevan 8:05 am Link | Email | Send To A Friend

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