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Fargo Muslim community refuses to bury Muslim who killed cop, says nobody knew him



FARGO — In a show of solidarity with the Fargo Police Department, a group of about 10 Muslim refugees and immigrant leaders placed flowers at the memorial for slain officer Jake Wallin on 25th Street South this week.

Along with bringing Somali food to Fargo police headquarters on Thursday, July 20, the gestures were to show respect for law enforcement, but also to condemn the attack by gunman Mohamad Barakat who killed Wallin, seriously wounded two other officers and injured a bystander.

The Forum spoke with more than a dozen members of the local Muslim community who all said they did not know 37-year-old Barakat.

Despite his first name, which is common among Muslims, area leaders in the Islamic faith rejected any affiliation with Barakat, who they said did not attend the Fargo mosque or the one in Moorhead.

In fact, a family member’s request made to local mosque leaders to handle Barakat’s funeral arrangements has been refused, said Sajid Ghauri, an adviser to the Moorhead mosque, known as the Moorhead Fargo Islamic Center.

“We have no clue whether he was even Muslim because his action doesn’t show that. So with that being said … we refused to do a funeral or burial in this area,” Ghauri said. “Even if he’s a member, he can’t mess with our community like that.”

On July 14, Barakat armed himself with a homemade grenade, gasoline, explosives, a .223 caliber long rifle, 1,800 rounds of ammunition, four other handguns and additional rifles, a tactical vest and double-stacked, large-capacity magazines, North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley said during a press conference on Wednesday, July 19.

Stopping short of calling the shooting an act of terrorism, Wrigley said Fargo Police Officer Zachary Robinson was the “last man standing for what was coming next and what this assailant was armed for.”

Mayor Tim Mahoney agreed with Wrigley during the press conference saying Barakat’s attack was not finished.

“It is clear to us our officers were ambushed in this attack. Had Zach not neutralized the shooter we would have many more casualties. He was planning on war and mayhem in our community,” Mahoney said.

Ahmed Makaran, executive director of ESHARA, or the Ethnic Self Help Alliance for Refugee Assistance, came to the makeshift memorial for Wallin on Tuesday. Makaran has been meeting with city leaders and the Fargo Police Department to offer help in any way he can, he said.

No one in the local Muslim community knew Barakat, or had even heard his name, Makaran said.

“We have a lot of Mohamads and Ahmeds here, but we have not even seen his picture. And that is an unknown fear. People see the name and think it is like every other Muslim. But with good communication we can make this unknown fear go away,” Makaran said.

Other Muslim leaders said connecting Barakat’s name to the religion of Islam makes as much sense as linking the name John to Christianity.

Ghauri said he talked to about 50 Muslim people in the area and so far has not found anyone who knew Barakat.

“You cannot attach this to any religion. That person has what looks like a Muslim name, but his actions were not Muslim,” Ghauri said….

“Islam is a peaceful religion that condemns the use of violence against innocents, including police officers, firefighters and other first responders performing their duties. Further, it is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement and protect the lives of all civilians,” Ghauri said….

Adde and others are concerned about how the wider Fargo-Moorhead community will react to Friday’s violence.

Already, a newly-placed poster found Monday along 10th Street South advertised the Patriot Front, saying “Reclaim America.”

High up on a wall behind the stage in Broadway Square a similar message was also spray painted.

The Patriot Front is a white nationalist hate group that formed after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights nonprofit that tracks hate groups.

In 2022, there were at least three instances of vandalism with the words Patriot Front on businesses and tunnels in the Fargo-Moorhead area….