Published August 31, 2009
A 17-year-old girl who fled to Florida after converting from Islam to Christianity will be in "clear and present danger" if returned to Ohio due to her parent's affiliation with an Islamic cultural center, her attorney claims.
In a 35-page memorandum filed Monday in Orange County family court, attorney John Stemberger claims Fathima Rifqa Bary, who will remain in foster care in Florida at least until a hearing on Thursday, should not be returned to the custody of her parents, Mohamed and Aysha Bary, because of their connection to the Noor Islamic Cultural Center near Columbus, Ohio.
"The leader of the mosque, Dr. Hany Saqr, was previously an imam for another area mosque at the same time the largest known Al Qaeda cell in the U.S. since 9/11 was operating out of the mosque," the document read. "Additionally, Dr. Saqr was identified in exhibits submitted by the Department of Justice in a recent terrorism finance trial in Texas as being one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America — an international organization responsible for birthing virtually every Islamic terrorist organization in the world, including Al Qaeda."
The center also is affiliated with Dr. Salah Sultan, a "cleric alleged photographed with terrorist leaders designated as such by the U.S. government," according to the document, and frequently hosts "extremist speakers" who have allegedly made statements supporting violence and terrorism.
Stemberger also claims the Noor Center has been "directly tied" to an ongoing probe into Somali-American youths who fled the U.S. to train in terror camps operated by the Al Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab terror organization.
Stemberger, who is seeking to obtain residence for Bary in Florida, says the claims made in his memorandum is not "a case" against Islam.
"The vast majority of Muslims in this country are peaceful and law-abiding citizens," Stemberger said Monday. "Her family are members of this mosque … That's the problem."
Stemberger claims the girl's parents are undoubtedly influenced by teachings at the cultural center. If returned to Ohio, as her parents are seeking, it's just a matter of time "until she slips away in the night," he said.
Attempts by FOXNews.com to reach Hany and attorneys for the Noor Islamic Cultural Center before publication were not successful. Hany has denied all the allegations in the court filings, the Associated Press reports.
Shayan Elahi, an attorney for Rifqa's father, declined to comment when reached by FOXNews.com because he had yet to read the documents.
In a separate brief, Fathima Rifqa Bary — who moved with her family from Sri Lanka to Queens, N.Y., in 2000, and later to Gahanna, Ohio, in 2004 — claims her father selected the cultural center despite eight other mosques that were closer to their home.
"My father was very intent on making sure that his children, and especially me, were raised deeply in the faith of 'Original Islam' which was taught at the Noor Center," an affidavit filed Monday read. "Our family attended the Noor Center gatherings as much [sic] our schedules would allow."
The 17-year-old girl said she became a Christian in November 2005 while at the Korean United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio.
"I hid my Christian faith from my parents as best as I could and had to sneak around to attend Christian campus meetings," the affidavit continued. "I also hid my Bible at home in various locations."
In 2007, after finding the Christian book "Purpose Driven Life," Rifqa claimed her father had a "serious discussion" about the importance of retaining her Muslim faith and Islamic blood line. Later, in 2009, Rifqa claims her father confronted her about whether she had become a Christian.
"Then my father told me that he received numerous e-mails and phone calls from the leaders of the Noor Center community who informed him that he need to deal with this matter immediately," the affidavit continues.
Bary also claims her father threatened to kill and disavow her and that her mother threatened to have her "sent back to Sri Lanka to be dealt with" when she discovered another Christian book in her bedroom on July 17.