Joseph O’Connor, head of the Philadelphia police department counterterrorism unit, is standing by his assertion that the city is a hideout for terrorists, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. His boss, Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson, apologized for him and contradicted him during a lunch yesterday with bemused and offended Arab Americans and Muslims. O’Connor said after the London transit bombings that Philadelphia is “notorious for fund-raising and recruitment” by terrorist organizations. “It’s not happening here,” Marwan Kreidie, head of the Arab American Development Corp., a community organization, told him. When pressed, he could not provide any details to back up his assertion that the city is a terrorist haven.
Commissioner Johnson said, “There’s nothing that would indicate there’s a problem with the Muslim community collecting money for or harboring people who are extreme Muslims. No one at the FBI has ever said those things to me, and as far as I know, they don’t feel the same way, either.” O’Connor, former commander of the department’s elite SWAT team, was suspended for 10 days and passed up for promotion in 2002 after he failed to report an accident involving his command car in 2000. He was finally promoted and transferred to the antiterrorism unit in 2003.