While first telling the media that he had no idea who the shooter was, it was later revealed they were personal friends and that the Islamic radical was a regular at his mosque.
Additionally, Imam Rashid “lied” about the shooter’s association with the mosque, an anonymous tipster testified to police in warning of a larger terror plot.
On Thursday, Edward Archer, 30, walked up to the patrol vehicle of officer Jesse Hartnett and fired 13 rounds at him within close range in an attempted assassination. Dressed in Islamic garb, Archer was unable to kill Hartnett, who heroically disabled the Islamic extremist when he returned fire following the assault. After being taken into custody, Archer said he carried out the act in the name of Islam and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, according to the police commissioner.
After the terror attack, Asim Abdur Rashid, the Imam of the mosque attended by the jihadi, “said he did not know Archer and was not aware if he had ever prayed there,” according to a Reuters report.
But in the past day, his tone has changed strikingly.
Imam Rashid now admits that Archer “regularly” attended morning, evening, and even midday prayers at his mosque, the Masjid Mujahideen. Mujahideen is plural for mujahid, the term used to describe a holy warrior who is engaged in jihad for Islam.
This is all a misunderstanding, Rashid now claims, saying he only knew Archer by his Muslim name.
“I know him as Abdul Shaheed… We don’t call each other by the names we had before we converted to Islam,” Rashid said, claiming he did not recognize Archer, though he was a frequent attendee of the mosque and they had a personal relationship.
“He was intelligence [sic], and he was a regular dude,” Rashid told Reuters on Sunday.
But another member of the mosque claims the opposite.
“He became more drastic. More combative,” commented Jannah Abdulsalaam. “He was kind but I noticed that change.”
Rashid’s backtracking came after police received a tip stating Archer is part of a larger terror cell.
Archer is “part of a group that consist of three others… the defendant is not the most radical of the four. And the three males still frequent the 6100 block of Pike and for the police to be careful,” read a statement taken by police from an anonymous female tipster. It is not clear whether all four suspects have ties to the Islamic State or other international jihadist groups.
She added that Imam Rashid “was lying” when he said Archer “had no association with” Masjid Mujahideen.
The Philadelphia Police, along with the FBI, have received the witness statement as a credible threat against the city.
“It’s being investigated and taken (as) credible,” Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby stated Monday. “Whether it was Islam, ISIS, whether he was in this group, whatever the hell it is, this guy needs to be, these other three need to be looked at if it is credible, taken off the street and investigated.”
The Masjid Mujahideen in Philadelphia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.