Adding INSULT to injury, the Continuing Recovery Center in Irving, Il. where this emergency drill was held is a substance abuse/alcohol treatment center which they turned in to a "mosque"!
Irving Hosts Emergency Test Drill
There were explosions outside and inside the building. Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) special forces stormed the "mosque" from an armored car.
Muslims Say Storming of Illinois 'Mosque' Sends Wrong Message
CAIR: State emergency personnel may now view Islamic houses of worship as security threats
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said officials from almost 30 government agencies participated in the drill Thursday in Irving, Ill., targeting a community facility that had been re-named the "Irving Mosque" for the purposes of the exercise. In the exercise, officers from the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) stormed the "mosque" using an armored car. One "hostage" was hooked up to an explosive device and the "suspects" in the "mosque" released nerve gas.
SEE: Irving Hosts Emergency Test Drill (Journal-News) http://www.thejournal-news.net/articles/2008/05/06/news/news01.txt
"The use of a fake 'mosque' in this type of drill sends the wrong message to law enforcement officials who may now view mainstream institutions, such as Islamic houses of worship, as potential security threats," said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR's Chicago chapter (CAIR-Chicago). "Officials must be trained in dealing with hostage-taking and responding to chemical, biological or bomb attacks. We are only questioning the wisdom of linking the American Muslim community and its institutions to such incidents."
Rehab noted that FBI Director Robert Mueller recently cited cooperation from American Muslims in maintaining national security. At a congressional hearing in April, Mueller said: "And every opportunity I have, I re-affirm the fact that 99.9 percent of Muslim-Americans or Sikh-Americans, Arab-Americans are every bit as patriotic as anybody else in this room, and that many of our cases are a result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the United States."
Last month, CAIR's chapter in Pennsylvania (CAIR-PA) called on police training officials in that state to offer a Muslim perspective in a mandatory police training class because of concerns that the class may present stereotypical views of Islam and Muslims.
SEE: Penn. Muslims Seek 'Balance' in Police Training on Islam
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
Agencies participating included the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Irving Police Department, Montgomery County 911, Montgomery County IMT, Montgomery County ARES, Nokomis Police Department, Montgomery County Coroner's Office, Irving Volunteer Fire Department, Montgomery County HazMat, Hillsboro Area Ambulance Service, Litchfield Ambulance, Illinois State Police, Illinois State Police Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center, Montgomery County Public Health, Madison County Unified Command, Illinois Secretary of State Law Enforcement, Illinois Secretary of State Bomb Squad, Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, Madison County HazMat, Litchfield Police Department, Nokomis Fire Protection District, Raymond/Harvel Ambulance, Illinois Fire Service Institute, Village of Irving, Taylor Springs Fire/EMS, and Montgomery County EMA.
NOTE: The spokesperson for this "drill" according to the Journal News article is Diana Holmes of the Montgomery County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency who coordinated it.
UPDATE: I (Robin) just spoke to Diana Holmes (Wed. May 7, 9:30 pst). She nor anyone else knew until the night before the "emergency drill" that the facility being used for this would be called a "mosque". Although the planning started in January, the scenario of it being a "mosque" was NOT announced until that time. Diana said to me that in retrospect she should have realized this could cause some very hurt feelings. She has received several calls already this morning about this. It was the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department decision to do this- The man responsible is Rick Robbins. The number at the Montgomery County Sheriff is (217) 532-9516
I also spoke to Gary, the director at the Continuing Recovery Center. When contacted to use their facility (the facility was evacuated of all staff and live-ins for the day) they ALSO were not told their facility would be called a "mosque" for this drill. I asked him if he could understand that taking a substance abuse/alcohol treatment center and turn it in to a mosque to be used in a "terror drill" could be seen as something very controversial and hurtful in addition to the fact that the insinuation of the entire drill-that a mosque was harboring terrorists and he said, "Absolutely". He had NO idea this had been done until he read the news report in the Journal News.
UPDATE #2!!!: I just spoke to Rick Robbins and had a very pleasant conversation! Mr. Robbins admitted that he has never had much contact with Muslims and really didn't think about the choice of a "mosque" being used in such a way. I asked him if he was aware of Robert Mueller's statement,
"And every opportunity I have, I re-affirm the fact that 99.9and he said he had just been made aware of it and is very much in agreement. I also told him that turning a rehab center (and that I have great respect for such a place because my father is a retired drug and alcohol counselor) into a "mosque" was also was not the most sensitive or thoughtful thing to do. He stated that it was never shouted out that it was a "mosque" or anything such as that. He is now WELL aware that the decision to call this facility a "mosque" was not only wrong because Muslims are GOOD American citizens but also insensitive to the Muslim community insinuating that mosques are suspicious places. He stated that a formal apology will be in the Journal News this Thursday. I told him that this would be a good opportunity to reach out and get to know the Muslim community, visit a mosque, contact CAIR, and that some good CAN come from this awful mistake. Mr. Robbins seemed very sincere to me in his apology. I told him that from my own experience, Muslims are wonderful people and that his learning from this experience can be the opportunity to make bridges that both he (and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Dept) can truly benefit from.
percent of Muslim-Americans or Sikh-Americans, Arab-Americans are every bit
as patriotic as anybody else in this room, and that many of our cases are a
result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the United States.'"
Illinois Emergency Management Agency
2200 South Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, Illinois 62703
|Director||Andrew Velasquez III||(217)782-2700|
|Acting Assistant Director||Joseph G. Klinger||(217)785-9868|
|Assistant to Director||Desai, Lisa||(217)557-6225|
|Disaster Assistance and Preparedness||Smith, Dave||(217)785-9890|
Montgomery County Sheriff's Office:
The office of Sheriff Jim Vazzi is located in Montgomery County Jail which is located just north of the Courts Complex. Phone number is (217) 532-9511 and fax number is (217) 532-6318. The mailing address is: 140 N. Main St., Hillsboro, IL 62049. Our email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nokomis Police Department
Chief of Police
22 S Cedar St
Nokomis, Illinois 62075
Montgomery County Coroner's Office:
James H. Davis, M.D. Coroner
Phone: (937) 225-4156 Location:
361 West Third Street
Dayton, OH 45402
Montgomery County Hazmat website
Illinois State Police:
Larry Trent Director: (217) 782-7263
Illinois Secretary of State Law Enforcement:
Brad Demuzio, Director
110 E. Adams
Springfield, IL 62701
Phone: (217) 782-7126
ALSO: This took place in Senator Obama's home state. Here is all his contact information:
Washington D.C. Office
713 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 228-4260 fax
(202 228-1404 TDD
Email our office
John C. Kluczynski Federal Office Building
230 South Dearborn St.
Suite 3900 (39th floor)
Chicago, Illinois 60604
(312) 886-3514 fax
Toll free: (866) 445-2520
(for IL residents only)
607 East Adams Street
Springfield, Illinois 62701
(217) 492-5099 fax
701 North Court Street
Marion, Illinois 62959
(618) 997-2850 fax
1911 52nd Avenue
Moline, Illinois 61265
UPDATE: In today's Journal News: (May 8, 2008)
Muslim Group Takes Offense At Exercise
The emergency preparedness drill in Irving last week has gotten attention from a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, claiming that the storming of a fake "mosque" sends the wrong message that all Islamic houses of worship may be potential security threats.
The group discovered the story through The Journal-News web site, which has had thousands of hits and dozens of comments since it was posted on Monday.
Montgomery County Sheriff's Office Undersheriff Rick Robbins, who helped plan the event, apologized for using a fake mosque to stage the event.
"I apologize for the message that was received by many," Robbins said. "After reviewing statements made regarding the use of the word mosque, I understand the misuse of the word."
One such comment posted on The Journal-News web site was from a Muslim-American currently serving in the U.S. Navy Reserves, who has also worked as a deputy sheriff and firefighter.
"I am appalled at what I have read," the commenter wrote. "The training was worthwhile and much needed. But turning a center into a masjid (mosque) for the purposes of this training is an outrage. Why a mosque? Why didn't the powers that be fabricate a church or synagogue? This action has done nothing more but to feed fuel to the flame of hate for Muslims in your area and in this country."
Event organizers said that the "mosque" was not central to the drill setting, which could have more accurately been referred to as a camp or compound.
There were no ethnic or religious subtexts to the drill. Even the fake suspects were given non-ethnic names borrowed from a popular television show.
Links to the Journal-News coverage of the story had circulated that internet by noon Wednesday, including CNBC, generating comments on the newspapers web site. Most expressed outrage about using a "mosque" to stage the event. Some were more critical.
"You hicks are crazy," one commenter wrote.
According to another, "this is a manifestation of the fascist in America who seek to justify their transgressions with attacks real and imagined against Muslims here and abroad."
Islamic group finds town's emergency drill offensive
Published Thursday, May 08, 2008IRVING — A national Islamic advocacy group says an emergency preparedness drill targeting a simulated mosque in this small community wrongly typecast Islamic houses of worship as security threats.
Rehab said he has no reason to believe the exercise was meant to be malicious, but it still perpetuates a stereotype linking all Muslims to terrorism.
Officials from almost 30 government agencies participated in the drill last week in Irving, which is 7 miles northeast of Hillsboro in Montgomery County.
According to the Hillsboro Journal-News, the May 1 exercise converted the Continuing Recovery Center into “Irving Mosque,” described as “the home-base for a radical, heavily armed group with suspected terrorist ties.”
The drill involved simulated explosions, hostages — including one hooked up to an explosive device — and nerve gas, causing both the Illinois Secretary of State bomb squad and the Montgomery County HazMat team to respond. Special forces from the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System also emerged from an armored car and stormed the “mosque,” the Journal-News reported.
“Officials must be trained in dealing with hostage-taking and responding to chemical, biological or bomb attacks,” Rehab said in a news release his agency sent out Tuesday. “We are only questioning the wisdom of linking the American Muslim community and its institutions to such incidents.”
Rehab said Wednesday the Washington D.C.-based national CAIR headquarters alerted his office after learning about the drill.
Montgomery County Undersheriff Rick Robbins reportedly was in charge of setting up the particulars of the exercise.
Contacted Wednesday, Robbins asked to see a copy of CAIR’s release. He indicated the sheriff’s office plans to make a statement later this week.
Rehab said he left a message with Robbins on Wednesday afternoon so the two could discuss his concerns.
“I want to give the benefit of the doubt to the person who made that decision to make (the drill scenario) a mosque. That person may not know any Muslims or not have enough interaction with the Muslim community,” Rehab said. “I don’t want people to malign this individual or demonize them. We don’t yet known what their intention was.”
Diana Holmes, coordinator of the Montgomery County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency, said Wednesday she had not heard of CAIR’s complaint.
“Yes, this office sponsored the drill,” she said when a reporter called her Wednesday morning. “The scenario for the exercise came from the sheriff’s office.”
Rehab said he hopes the incident can encourage a discussion of cultural sensitivity issues.
“It’s not just a question of calling them out,” he said. “It’s a matter of rectifying the situation and conveying our perspective.”
CAIR has worked with law enforcement officials on similar issues in recent months. In April, CAIR’s chapter in Pennsylvania asked police training officials to provide a Muslim perspective in a mandatory police training class because of concerns the class may present stereotypical views of Islam and Muslims, according to the news release.
The implication that mosques are bad places because of the actions of a few can be very damaging, Rehab said.
“The real issue facing our community right now is specifically the failure to distinguish between the domain of terrorism, which is very particular, very underground, very exclusive, and the domain of mainstream Islam, which is above ground, in the sunshine and a part of our society.
The drill, he said, “plays into that. It’s again blurring those lines,” Rehab said.