In Kensington, Learning about a Terror Suspect

679 Ocean Parkway, a building “associated” with the suspect. (Photo by Zainab Iqbal via Bklyner)

On the morning of Dec. 11, a pipe bomb exploded in a subway passageway, seriously injuring the man carrying it and slightly injuring people near him. In an essay in Bklyner entitled “The Manhattan Bombing Terrorist Lived in My Neighborhood,” reporter Zainab Iqbal tells of her reaction and thoughts as she learned the identity of the suspect, Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old of Bangladeshi descent.

Is he a Muslim?

As a Muslim, that is the first question that goes in my head after a terror attack occurs. I can’t help it. Let me explain the mental timeline from what happens the moment I (and other Muslims) find out about a terror attack, to the moment it’s confirmed exactly what religion the person was.

The moment of: Oh God, not another terror attack. Is anyone dead? Is everyone ok? Was he Muslim? 

A few moments later: Please don’t let him be Muslim.

A few moments after that: Googling every possible news site for the latest news on what religion he was.

The moment you find out the religion: Oh no. IS HE SERIOUS? THAT IS NOT ISLAM, THAT IS NOT WHAT MUSLIMS DO. HOW CAN HE CALL HIMSELF A MUSLIM?

The end: Here we go again. *hate crimes, Muslim bans, and having to hear the word “terrorist” in conjunction with Islam*

Iqbal goes on to write about how, after she and other reporters had gathered outside an apartment building on Ocean Parkway [the New York Times reported that this building was “associated with Mr. Ullah” and said that he had lived in a story building in Flatlands], one reporter turned to her and asked her if she knew the Ullah family. Iqbal was wearing her NYPD press pass, and it was clearly visible.

 I then realized, she didn’t ask anybody else if they “knew the Ullah’s.” I was the only one there with the hijab. I was the only visible Muslim.

She asked me.

Go to Bklyner to read Iqbal’s full account, and how she feels about the “neighbors standing with neighbors” in Kensington.

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