Newsday - October 2, 2005
Imam expresses regret for remarks on 9-11 attacks
BY WIL CRUZ
The Imam who resigned from the Fire Department Friday because of controversial remarks he made about the Sept. 11th attacks yesterday expressed regret that his "innocent" comments led to "pain" and "rage."
In a letter addressed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Fire Department and New Yorkers, Imam Intikab Habib said that his comments Thursday -- that he was unsure if Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida were behind the terrorist attacks -- were formed by the conflicting media reports that he had heard. Habib, 30, also said his interview with a Newsday reporter on Thursday was the first time he'd ever dealt with the media.
"This incident is very difficult on me, my family, and the Muslim community," the letter read. "I hope you, the members of the Fire Department, and the New Yorkers can find it in your hearts to see my innocence, and that I never meant to be insensitive to the families who have lost loved ones on 9/11."
The native of Guyana who studied Islam in Saudi Arabia made his remarks a day before he was to become the second Muslim chaplain in the Fire Department's history.
On Friday, he resigned.
"He made a stupid remark and he's taking responsibility for it," said Joan Molinaro, 60, whose firefighter son, Carl, died in the north tower. "But for him to say that he doesn't believe they did this or there's no proof is ridiculous."
Imam Omar Abu-Namous of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York in Manhattan said Habib was "unwise" for making the remarks without justification or documentation of his doubts. He added that it doesn't represent mainstream Muslims.
"This is the first time I hear such nonsense," Abu-Namous said.
Indeed, Habib said that he spoke on his own behalf and that the impact of his comments on 9/11 families and the Muslim community were not lost on him.
"I can see the rage and I can see the hurt in them, and that was never my intention," Habib told Newsday Saturday of 9/11 family and Fire Department union officials reactions. "This is probably a step backward that I have caused. I regret if I put any strain between New Yorkers and the Muslim community."
Habib, however, added that he did not apologize for the remarks because he said them innocently….
New York Times - September 30, 2005
Fire Department New York Chaplain resigns
after remarks about 9/11 conspiracy theory
NEW YORK -- The fire department's Muslim chaplain abruptly resigned Friday after saying in a published interview that a conspiracy, not 19 al-Qaida hijackers, may have been responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"It became clear to him that he would have difficulty functioning as an FDNY chaplain," Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta told reporters an hour before Imam Intikab Habib was to be officially sworn in. "There has been no prior indication that he held those views."
Habib told Newsday that he was skeptical of the official version of the attack on the World Trade Center, which killed 343 members of the Fire Department of New York. The newspaper published the interview hours before the swearing-in ceremony Friday.
"It takes two or three weeks to demolish a building like that. But it was pulled down in a couple of hours," Habib told the newspaper. "Was it 19 hijackers who brought it down, or was it a conspiracy?"
The 30-year Guyana native joined the department as chaplain on Aug. 15 after the FDNY's Islamic Society recommended him for the part-time position, which pays $18,000 a year.
Scoppetta said Habib, who was educated in Islamic law in Saudi Arabia and preaches at a New York mosque, had appeared qualified and passed a background check…..
Newsday October 1, 2005
Anguished Imam resigns as FDNY chaplain
BY CAROL EISENBERG and GRAHAM RAYMAN
Expressing anguish that his public doubts about who was behind the Sept. 11 terror attacks "had opened wounds for people," the Fire Department's new Muslim chaplain resigned Friday, shortly before he was to be officially sworn in.
"It was the right thing to do for the department," said Imam Intikab Habib, 30, of Ozone Park, who quit the $18,000-a-year post after meeting with fire officials. In that meeting, he confirmed remarks made to Newsday Thursday expressing doubts that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida were responsible for the attacks.
Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta announced Habib's resignation at a news conference an hour before the swearing-in.
"It became clear to him that he would have difficulty functioning as a Fire Department chaplain," Scoppetta said. "And then I understand the head of the Islamic Society of the Fire Department ... told him they were withdrawing their support."
In an interview Thursday, Habib, who moved to New York in 2000 to teach at an Islamic school in Ozone Park, said he didn't know who was responsible for the downing of the Twin Towers.
"There are so many conflicting reports about it," said the Guyana native, who studied Saudi Arabia. "I don't believe it was 19 ... hijackers who did those attacks.
"I've heard professionals say that nowhere ever in history did a steel building come down with fire alone. 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?"
Scoppetta said it was disturbing that anyone would harbor such views given the evidence about the attack. "I especially have difficulty reconciling those views with a person serving in the NYC fire department."
Scoppetta said Habib and several other clerics were recommended by the Islamic Society. The society represents more than 100 Muslim fire personnel.
"He was vetted, there was a background check and a fingerprint check, and there was nothing negative that came up," he said. "We don't usually consider political views. This is an unusual situation."
A spokesman for the Islamic Society said the group took responsibility for recommending Habib without probing his opinions…..