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Southfield — Area Muslims, representing the local Nigerian and Yemeni communities, gathered to condemn the failed terrorist attack aboard a flight headed to Detroit on Christmas Day and send a message to al-Qaida supporters that their actions are not condoned by Islam.

“Killing and targeting civilians is unacceptable in Islam,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of Michigan’s Council on American-Islamic Relations, at a press conference convened this morning in the local chapter’s office in Southfield.

He was flanked by three area Muslim leaders: Imam Kazeem Agboola, head of the Muslim Community Center in Detroit; Noa Fasina, secretary of the center; and Ibrahim Aljahim, president and CEO of Arab American Outreach.

The men explained that neither the terrorist attempt nor al-Qaida represented Muslim teachings. They did this by making a clear distinction between Islamic concepts, condemning the attempt as “irhab” (terrorism) and “hirabah” (unlawful warfare), and denying that the act constituted true “jihad,” or work on behalf of God.

“These people are not engaged in legitimate jihad, and we should not embolden them further by calling them ‘jihadis,’ ” Walid said.

A 23-year-old Nigerian man has been charged with an attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound aircraft from Amsterdam on Christmas Day. On Monday, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a group in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attempt.

Walid further emphasized the vast majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world do not support al-Qaida, and, in fact, make up most of the terrorist group’s casualties in places such as Pakistan and Iraq.

“The primary victims of al-Qaida are Muslims themselves,” he said.

About 10,000 Nigerians live in Michigan, about half in Metro Detroit. This region also boasts about 40,000 Yemenis, with the largest concentrations in Southfield, Dearborn and Hamtramck. Most are Muslim, making up one of the largest Arab Muslim groups in the region, but some are Jewish and Christian.

The Muslim center is made up of mostly Nigerian congregants. The outreach group is a Yemeni organization.

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