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terrorist that shot 14 americians burried in Rosamond Muslim cemetery - Smiley - 02-01-2016 12:50 PM

AV Press
1/1/2015
Parris angry over reported burial of terrorists in the AV


aclark@avpress.com


Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris denounced the reported burial in an Antelope Valley Muslim cemetery of the couple who carried out the Dec. 2 San Bernardino terror attack that killed 14 people, questioning whether the burial gave support to terrorism.

Kamal Al-Khatib, the cemetery's director, has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny Facebook posts questioning whether Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik are buried at the cemetery, saying that all the burials are anonymous.

"If we can't denounce this, is there anything we won't condone? Is treason now acceptable in polite society?" Parris wrote Wednesday evening on Facebook. "Make no mistake, in Lancaster, we ain't so polite."

The mayor continued: "We really are becoming a wimped out culture when we don't condemn anyone who gives aid to real terrorists who killed Americans for no other reason than being Americans. I don't care if they are dead. It's probably illegal to send them to the dump, but paying for the funeral? Really?"

Al-Khatib refused again Thursday to confirm or deny whether the couple are buried in the cemetery, which is about 10 miles southwest of Rosamond. The cemetery has more than 1,000 graves and all are anonymous, with no identification on any headstones, Al-Khatib said.

That, he said, follows a tradition from Mohammed and his followers and the practice at a cemetery in the Saudi Arabian city of Medina.

The mayor's comments serve no purpose other than to increase fear in the Antelope Valley, Al-Khatib added.

"This guy is a hater with a long history of hating," Al-Khatib said of Parris. "He's an attorney. He's supposed to be respecting the Constitution. He's supposed to be respecting freedom of religion."

On Thursday, Parris said he's surprised at the lack of criticism expressed by Palmdale officials about the reported burials, which he called "outrageous."

"I am astonished by the silence," Parris said in a telephone interview, calling Al-Khatib "a public figure." Parris added: "He certainly is portrayed as one in the city of Palmdale."

Farook and Malik were shot dead by police Dec. 2 after killing 14 people and wounding 21 others at a holiday work party in San Bernardino. CNN reported Dec. 17: "As for the killers, the bodies of Farook and Malik were buried (Dec. 15), 13 days after the attacks, according to the Law Offices of David S. Chesley, the California attorney who represents Farook's family. A funeral for the couple (Dec. 15) in Rosamond, north of Los Angeles, was attended by family members and 'very few' friends, a source told CNN on condition of anonymity."

Chesley's office declined comment when contacted by a Valley Press reporter Thursday.

When asked Dec. 19 about the burial in an online forum, Al-Khatib said the cemetery "is a private cemetery and we don't discuss any Muslim nor we release any information about any sacred place to the public."

San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk officials said last week that the death certificates, which would state what was done with the bodies, had not yet been filed. The office was closed Thursday.

The 20-acre Wal-Hamdu-Lillah cemetery, whose name in Arabic means "Praise Be to God," opened in 1999. It is owned by the American Islamic Institute of Antelope Valley, the Palmdale mosque. Al-Khatib, who is the mosque's president, is also the funeral director for the cemetery and its mortuary, as well as executive director of Guidance Charter School.

In his Facebook posts, Parris also questioned whether the reported burials are condoned by Al-Khatib's supporters, including Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford and Sandy Corrales-Eneix, a former Palmdale School District board member and Democratic Party activist.

"Why would Kamal think he did anything wrong? His friends continue to support him. I am more concerned about those who support him," Parris wrote.

Ledford declined to comment on Parris' remarks, calling the situation "radioactive."

"It's a sensitive issue for all parties," he said. "I don't think these shooters are welcome anywhere."

Corrales-Eneix called Parris' remarks "incendiary."

"That to me is not a responsible leader," she said. "I am deeply disappointed."

Corrales-Eneix said she has served for four years with Al-Khatib on the Palmdale Sheriff's Station's community advisory committee, calling him "an integral part of the conversation."

However, she said she understands why people are upset at the idea of the killers being buried in the Antelope Valley.

"I don't think anyone wants that situation in their backyard," she said.

Parris and Al-Khatib previously clashed in 2010 after the mayor gave a "State of the City" luncheon address to members of the Christian Ministerial Alliance, telling them Lancaster was "growing a Christian community, and don't let anybody shy away from that."

The now-defunct Antelope Valley Human Relations Task Force, at a February 2010 meeting participated in by Al-Khatib and Ledford, voted unanimously to condemn Parris' "Christian community" remark as divisive and exclusionary. At the same meeting, the group condemned as divisive and inflammatory a Facebook posting by then-Lancaster Councilwoman Sherry Marquez, who wrote: "This is what the Muslim religion is all about - the beheadings, honor killings are just the beginning of what is to come in the U.S.A."

Editor Charles F. Bostwick contributed to this story.
[email= aclark@avpress.com]
aclark@avpress.com[/email]


Parris: I don't want terrorists buried in city - Smiley - 12-01-2016 12:56 PM

AV Press
1/9/2016
Parris: I don't want terrorists buried in city


cbostwick@avpress.com

LANCASTER - Following reports that the couple who carried out the Dec. 2 San Bernardino terror attack were buried last month in an Antelope Valley Muslim cemetery, Mayor R. Rex Parris wants the city to send a letter in protest to Kern County officials and to require Lancaster cemeteries to tell the city if they plan to bury any terrorist.

Parris, who scheduled the issue for discussion by the City Council at its meeting Tuesday, said he doesn't know if the city could ban such burials under its own authority or would have to go before a judge to get a court order.

"All I know is I don't want a bunch of terrorists buried in Lancaster. I don't want one buried in Lancaster," Parris said Friday.

The City Council meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 44933 Fern Ave.

Parris' proposal on Tuesday is to discuss placing on the next council meeting's agenda an ordinance requiring any public or private cemetery within city limits to notify the city and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department "prior to interring or entombing the remains of any individual identified by the federal government as having participated in a terrorist incident."

The notification, the proposal said, is so that the city or the Sheriff's Department "may place reasonable mitigation requirements and/or prohibit such interment or entombment within city limits in order to protect and preserve public safety."

The proposal also calls for sending a letter to Kern County officials protesting the burial of the San Bernardino terrorists in the Rosamond area.

Asked if he thought there was a threat to public safety from the reported burial of Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik at the Wal-Hamdu-Lillah cemetery 10 miles southwest of Rosamond, Parris said: "I think when you attract that kind of attention to yourself it has a magnetic effect."

Kamal Al-Khatib, the cemetery's director, refuses to confirm or deny whether Farook and Malik are buried at the cemetery, saying that all the burials there are anonymous.

He said Parris' proposal, if accepted by the City Council, couldn't be enforced because the city doesn't have the authority and because a prohibition of a burial would be an unconstitutional infringement on religious freedom.

"You can make as many resolutions as you want. If they are illegal they cannot be enforced," he said.

Al-Khatib said Parris is trying to prolong controversy over the burial reports, and he said he expects the issue will show up before the Nov. 8 Palmdale City Council election, since Al-Khatib is a longtime supporter of Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford, with whom Parris feuds regularly.

"He's trying to keep the issue alive," Al-Khatib said.

Parris said he is particularly concerned about the significance of the burials because Al-Khatib, besides being the cemetery's director and president of the Palmdale mosque that owns the cemetery, is also executive director of Guidance Charter School, which has two campuses in Palmdale. The school, he said, is "for all intents and purposes an Islamic charter school" supported by tax money.

Al-Khatib denied that the school is Islamic or teaches religion. The same accusation, he said, was made by the Antelope Valley Republican Assembly when he ran unsuccessfully in 2003 for the Antelope Valley Union High School District board.

"We would lose our licenses as a charter school in a heartbeat," Al-Khatib said of teaching Islam at the school.

Farook and Malik were shot dead by police Dec. 2 after killing 14 people and wounding 21 others at a holiday work party in San Bernardino. CNN reported Dec. 17: "As for the killers, the bodies of Farook and Malik were buried (Dec. 15), 13 days after the attacks, according to the Law Offices of David S. Chesley, the California attorney who represents Farook's family. A funeral for the couple (Dec. 15) in Rosamond, north of Los Angeles, was attended by family members and 'very few' friends, a source told CNN on condition of anonymity."

The 20-acre Wal-Hamdu-Lillah cemetery, whose name in Arabic means "Praise Be to God," opened in 1999. It is owned by the American Islamic Institute of Antelope Valley, the Palmdale mosque.

cbostwick@avpress.com


Mayor R. Rex Parris: Terrorists buried in Rosamond - Smiley - 14-01-2016 05:07 PM

AV Press
Jan. 14 2016
Terrorists buried in Rosamond


Alisha Semchuck

LANCASTER - Mayor R. Rex Parris directed the city attorney to prepare an ordinance that prohibits interring or entombing the remains of known terrorists in any cemetery, public or private, within city limits.

The ordinance is expected to appear on the next City Council meeting agenda for a vote by council members. It is in reaction to the burial of Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, who on Dec. 2 shot to death 14 San Bernardino County employees and injured more than 20 other people, at an Islamic cemetery southwest of Rosamond.

The proposed ordinance would require operators of cemeteries in Lancaster to notify the city and also the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department prior to interring any individual identified by the federal government as a participant in a terrorist incident.

With the specific criteria in place, Lancaster officials would not be determining who is and who is not a terrorist.

The purpose of the ordinance, according to city attorney Allison Burns, is to avoid locations where people could come and either venerate or desecrate the grave sites, including potentially vandalizing neighboring burial sites.

As far as the possibility of someone desecrating terrorist graves, Parris said he would like to bulldoze their families' homes.

When investigators searched the townhouse in Redlands where the terrorists lived with the man's mother and the couple's 6-month-old daughter, they reported finding thousands of rounds of ammunition and 12 homemade bombs.

Farook and Malik had been reported last month by CNN to have been buried at the cemetery, but Kamal Al-Khatib, its funeral director as well as executive director of Guidance Charter School in Palmdale, had refused to confirm or deny that, saying that all the burials there are anonymous.

Death certificates obtained Tuesday by the Antelope Valley Press from the San Bernardino County Office of Assessor-Recorder-Clerk confirmed Farook and Malik were buried Dec. 15 at the cemetery.

Lancaster's authority to enact the burial ordinance came into question.

"Under (the California) Health and Safety Code we do have that power," Burns said.

Lancaster resident David Paul, who frequently tends to praise council actions, condemned its decision on this issue.

"No one likes terrorists, but it depends on how you pose the question," Paul said.

He asked if, theoretically, the deceased was guilty of other violent acts, such as rape, that would give the city the right to refuse that individual's burial.

"Let's be decent to the dead. Let the dead be dead and be done with it," Paul said.

"There is no one more despicable than these people," Parris responded. "Any honoring of these people is reprehensible. I'm the mayor, so I get to ask the council to pass this ordinance."

Lancaster resident Michael Rives, another voice who speaks out often at council meetings, concurred with Paul, but for different reasons.

"I know we're upset," Rives said.

"I'm not upset," Parris replied.

"We have military people that live in our city," Rives said. "I don't want to expose them to retaliation."

Rives said some people say the Confederacy was a terrorist group.

"We have a Confederate soldier buried in Lancaster Cemetery," Rives said. "Are we going to dig him up? I fear for our city. Let's just forget and move on."

"Make this an ordinance," Parris told Burns.

Previously Parris had mentioned wanting to submit a letter to Kern County officials protesting the burial of the San Bernardino terrorists. But at the council meeting Tuesday night, he did not discuss that plan.

asemchuck@avpress.com


Lancaster: Don't bury terrorists here - Lancaster - 28-01-2016 11:31 AM

AV Press
Jan 28 2016
City: Don't bury terrorists here



LANCASTER - Reacting to the burial last month in a Kern County cemetery of the couple who killed 14 people in the Dec. 2 San Bernardino terror attack, the City Council voted in favor of giving city officials authority to deny burials inside Lancaster city limits to anyone identified by the FBI as a terrorist.

In the absence of Mayor R. Rex Parris, who at the Jan. 12 council meeting requested the ordinance, the City Council voted 4-0 on Tuesday night to introduce an ordinance that says city officials want to avoid attracting either terrorism sympathizers who wish to celebrate an attack or protestors who would desecrate the graves or other graves nearby.

"We are being as specific as possible and we are not targeting," said Vice Mayor Marvin Crist, who presided over the meeting in Parris' absence.

Before the vote, two candidates in the April 12 city election criticized the proposal.

Michael Rives, who is running for a City Council seat, said the ordinance would draw "lone wolf" terrorists' attention to Lancaster.

"It paints a target on the city," Rives said. "I don't want to expose this city to a potential plot by alienating a certain class of people."

Noting that he had attended an "active shooter" presentation by sheriff's deputies at that day's Antelope Valley Board of Trade luncheon, Rives said the city should offer workshops on how people can protect themselves in a shooting.

David Paul, who is running for mayor, called the ordinance unenforceable, questioned the definition of who would be identified as a terrorist and said it would bring notoriety to Lancaster.

"The world is watching," Paul said. "We need to find love and compassion and forgiveness and tell the people, 'Rest in peace,' and let God sort it out."

In response, Crist said: "We're not going to be governed by fear."

City officials noted that Congress in 1997 passed a law that forbid the burial of anyone convicted of a capital crime - such as murder - from being buried in a national cemetery. The 1997 law was passed to prevent the possibility of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, a veteran, from being buried at Arlington National Cemetery. McVeigh was put to death on June 11, 2001.

At the Lancaster Cemetery, which is operated by a public cemetery district, nearly all the burials are of people who lived in the district, though occasionally burials are for local residents' relatives from outside the Antelope Valley.

"We hope to work with the city so we can best implement the law," board Chairman Dave Owens said Wednesday.

The Lancaster ordinance says that the city's cemeteries must notify the City Clerk if they are asked to bury a person "identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as participating or engaging in any act of 'international terrorism' or 'domestic terrorism' as defined in section 2331 of title 18 of the United States Code."

The ordinance does not mention religion or race, City Attorney Allison Burns said. The ordinance also doesn't cover people who are associated with organizations linked to terrorism, only individuals identified as terrorists, she said.

Once city officials are notified, they have two business days in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to either approve or deny the burial, or to approve it with conditions. The ordinance says a burial cannot be denied or conditions imposed that would interfere with "a person's vested right to burial or entombment or would otherwise violate any statuatory or constitutional right."

The city ordinance must come back for a second vote by the City Council for final approval.

If it is approved, it will create a punishment of $1,000 fine or six months in jail for anyone who buries a terrorist without city approval.

Parris proposed the ordinance after reports that Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, who on Dec. 2 shot to death 14 San Bernardino County employees and injured more than 20 other people, were buried at an Islamic cemetery southwest of Rosamond.

The 20-acre Wal-Hamdu-Lillah cemetery, whose name in Arabic means "Praise Be to God," opened in 1999.

It is owned by the American Islamic Institute of Antelope Valley, the Palmdale mosque.

The couples' graves are unmarked, as are all at the cemetery.

cbostwick@avpress.com