Local Islamic leader says extremist views do not represent religion

LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Local Muslims say the words spoken by a Berkshire County man accused of plotting an ISIS-inspired attack do not represent them.

Alexander Ciccolo has been accused of planning a terror attack inspired by the Islamic State. In a video from his detention hearing, the 23 year old made a lot of references to America violating laws of the Quran.

Arsalan Haque is from the Masjid Al-Hidaya Mosque in Latham. He said the views expressed by Ciccolo are far from those of the millions of Muslims around the world.

He sat down with NEWS10 to explain the religion and why he is outraged by those who claim it for the purpose of harming others.

“The people that you see being executed are criminals,” Ciccolo said to an FBI agent. “They’re the lowest of the low.

His claims to the religion anger Haque.

“This obviously does not represent the Muslim faith,” he said. “It does not represent the sentiments of the vast majority of the Muslims in the world let alone in the United States.”

Haque explained what the nearly 400 Muslims in his mosque represent.

“People who want to be close to God,” he said. “People who want peace and love in this world. People who want safety for all innocent people nit his world. That is what represents us not these anomalous types of cases that occur.”

Ciccolo claimed the name Ali Al Amirki after converting to the religion of Islam.

“Well, Abu Al Almriki is not even a very quote on quote Muslim name because Abu Al Almriki is just an Arabic word,” Haque explained. “It just goes on to show how little he knows about Islam.”

Haque said there are other people who don’t know a lot about Islam, but he’s glad they’re willing to learn. He recently had a local woman and her son ask him to visit the mosque.

“She said, ‘Well, because all of the stuff we’ve been hearing in the news, I want me and my son to have a personal connection with Muslims to realize and to reinforce what we already believe that the faith of Islam and real Muslims are not what we see in the news,’” he said.

Haque said he hopes more people come to visit the mosque, and he’s always happy to answer any questions.

He said he has faith that people will continue to understand that those who claim his religion for bad intentions do not represent his religion at all.

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