to elaborate on his [Habib's] reasons for doubting that story,
he talked about video and news reports widely disseminated in
the Muslim community.
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?"
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.
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."
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
Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association,
could not be reached for comment.
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.
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."
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.
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.