ISLAMIC CENTER'S WALLS COVERED WITH SLURS - Mitch Perry

06/21/04

Hillsborough County Investigators say that vandalism at an Islamic Education Center in Lutz probably occurred sometime last week, but was not discovered until after 6PM last Friday night when someone arrived to begin preparing the classrooms for weekend education sessions.

The Community Education Center serves hundreds of children who attend public or private schools who attend the school on weekends for Islamic religious education.

Ahmed Bedier is a local spokesman for the Council for American Islamic Relations, also known as CAIR. He says the person responsible broke in through a window and damaged several doors and windows (roll tape#1 o.q."of that nature")

On Friday afternoon, a Sauda Arabia terrorist group which says it has ties to Al Queda revealed on its web site that they had beheaded an American held hostage for the previous 3 days.

The gruesome execution of Paul Johnson Jr. has outraged Americans - and in Eaglewood Township, New Jersey, Johnson's hometown, that anger has manifested itself in the form of one homeowner posting a cardboard site on a utility pole that says, "Stamp Out Islam". Another sign near the victim's sister reads, "Islamics better wake up and start thinking about tomorrow."

CAIR's Ahmed Bedier says since nobody knows for certain when the vandalism occurred, it's impossible to speculate whether it might have been related to the Johnson execution. (roll tape#2 o.q. "Americans as killed ")

As far as retribution coming towards Muslims in THIS country, groups like CAIR remain on edge - as they have had since the September 11th Terrorist attacks.

(roll tape#3 o.q."nothing to do with ")

Some Critics of the United States going to war in Iraq warned that it would become a recruiting and fundraising tool for Osama Bin Laden's Al Queda network. CAIR's Ahmed Bedier says he fears that is exactly what the war has done, making Americans

Who work in the Middle East - like Paul Johnson, who worked for Lockheed Martin,

Much more vulnerable to terrorist attacks (roll tape#4 o.q."at this end")

Anyone with information about the break-in and vandalism is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sherriff's Office at 813-247-8200.

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