A truck displaying anti-Muslim billboards targeted a fourth New Jersey mosque the same day it targeted three others in November, HuffPost has learned.
An unidentified driver drove a commercial truck that displayed images of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in New Jersey on Nov. 26 — the 14th anniversary of the attack. Community members said it appeared to be a pointed and coordinated attempt to intimidate Muslims in the area.
It was previously known that the truck had appeared at the Muslim Center of Middlesex County in Piscataway, the New Brunswick Islamic Center and the Muslim Community of New Jersey Masjid in Fords.
New footage shared exclusively with HuffPost shows that the truck also made an appearance at the Masjid Al-Wali in Edison around 10:16 a.m. on Nov. 26. At least two congregants told mosque leaders that they saw the truck again later that same day at the mosque. Mosque leadership is still reviewing the footage to see how many times the truck drove and parked on the property.
“Our community was very shocked,” said Shayaan Nizam, the security director of the mosque. “We have great relationships with all the other communities in Edison, especially with other places of worship. We constantly support each other. So to have something like this happen is very shocking to our community, and because of the way that it happened, our community is on edge.”
The mosque has since ramped up security, including extending the hours that armed security works on weekends.
HuffPost has reviewed footage from all four mosques. In Fords, the truck parked in front of the MCNJ as the display circulated photos and videos of the Mumbai attacks for several minutes. Security footage from at least two of the mosques shows the driver exiting the truck and taking a photo of the truck in front of the Islamic centers.
It is not known who drove or paid for the truck, which reportedly had a TV Truck logo on the side. TV Truck, an outdoor digital mobile advertising company, did not respond to a request for comment.
The prosecutor’s office in Middlesex County, where all the mosques are located, declined to comment to HuffPost on an open investigation. The state’s attorney general’s office told HuffPost it was aware of the situation.
Dina Sayedahmed, the communications manager for the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called the incidents “deliberate and well-coordinated.”
“By targeting Islamic centers and repeatedly circling their premises, the perpetrator expects New Jersey’s Muslim community to answer to, or even feel shame for, an event that occurred entirely independent of them,” she told HuffPost in an emailed statement. “To demand that Muslims in New Jersey answer for Muslims oceans away is not only unreasonable but also dangerous.”
CAIR-NJ said it has received 150 calls reporting anti-Muslim incidents this year alone and that the truck incident is part of an uptick in Islamophobia around the U.S.
Lawmakers in New Jersey have condemned the incident.
“Anti-Muslim intimidation tactics are utterly unacceptable and downright shameful,” tweeted Gov. Phil Murphy (D). “No one should have to fear being harassed at their place of worship or in their community. I stand with our Muslim community and condemn this horrible act of bigotry.”
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) also called the incident an “act of bigotry.”
“Let me be clear: New Jersey stands with our Muslim community and will always defend your right to worship freely and without fear of harassment and intimidation,” he tweeted.