: News

Mosque Leader Says Chesser Was Stubborn In Religious Beliefs

Play associated audio

By Jonathan Wilson

Zachary Chesser, the man from Northern Virginia charged with supporting a foreign terrorist organization, is set to make his second appearance in federal court this afternoon.

The head of the Islamic Center where Chesser once worked provided some insight into the 20-year-old past.

Muhammad Farooq is the president of the Islamic Center of Northern Virginia in Fairfax, and says Zachary Chesser was mostly quiet and friendly during his time as a caretaker there in 2009.

"I didn't see anything abnormal in him at that time," says Farooq.

But Farooq recalls that near the end of his 6 months working at the Islamic Center, Chesser, also known as Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, showed increasing stubbornness in class at the mosque.

He says Chesser would focus on obscure verses in the Quran, sticking to his own interpretation even when his teachers pointed out how other verses contradicted his reading of the text.

"That is one reason why he also quit his job," he says, "because he realized we are trying to stay where the middle ground is."

Still, Farooq says Chesser's behavior never suggested he was capable of supporting terrorism.

Chesser faces up to 15 years in prison for allegedly trying to join the Somalia-based terror group al Shabaab as a foreign fighter.

NPR

'Kids Love To Be Scared': Louis Sachar On Balancing Fun And Fear

The award-winning author of Holes has just published a new novel for young readers, called Fuzzy Mud. It mixes middle-school social puzzles with a more sinister mystery: a rogue biotech threat.
NPR

Confronting A Shortage Of Eggs, Bakers Get Creative With Replacements

Eggs are becoming more expensive and scarce recently because so many chickens have died from avian flu. So bakers, in particular, are looking for cheaper ingredients that can work just as well.
NPR

Jon Stewart's Private White House Meetings

Comedian Jon Stewart was called to the White House on at least two occasions for private meetings with President Obama, according to Politico. NPR's Arun Rath speaks with reporter Darren Samuelsohn.
NPR

An App Tells Painful Stories Of Slaves At Monticello's Mulberry Row

A new app uses geolocation to bring to life a lesser-known section of Thomas Jefferson's Virginia estate — Mulberry Row, which was the bustling enclave of skilled slaves who worked at Monticello.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.