- The Washington Times - Monday, December 21, 2015

Dozens of Muslims celebrated the fall of the twin towers on 9/11 in at least three locations in Jersey City, according to several police officers and eyewitnesses.

A police officer who worked on 9/11 and residents on the outskirts of Jersey City’s Journal Square said they witnessed small pockets of people celebrating before the groups dispersed or were broken up by authorities, according to a new report by NJ.com.

The report comes amid fact-checking publications, elected officials and religious leaders denying the existence of celebrations in the city that day, after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims rejoiced following the attack.

The report provides “the first credible indication” of people celebrating in the area on 9/11, it said.

“Collectively, the gatherings amounted to dozens of people at the two locations, the witnesses said. Callers also flooded the 911 system with accounts of jubilant Muslims on a rooftop at a third location, three police officers said, but a reporter was unable to find witnesses there 14 years later,” NJ.com reported.

Peter Gallagher, a retired police captain who was a sergeant on 9/11, said he cleared a rooftop celebration of 20 to 30 people at 6 Tonnele Avenue in the wake of the attack.

“Some men were dancing, some held kids on their shoulders,” he told NJ.com. “The women were shouting in Arabic and keening in the high-pitched wail of Arabic fashion. They were told to go back to their apartments since a crowd of non-Muslims was gathering on the sidewalk below and we feared for their safety.”

Ron Knight, a Tonnele Avenue resident, said he also witnessed a crowd celebrating on John F. Kennedy Boulevard not far from the Masjid Al-Salam mosque.

“When I saw they were happy, I was pissed,” Mr. Knight told NJ.com.

His neighbor, Carlos Ferran, said he witnessed people rejoicing on the sidewalk on 9/11 as he walked to a nearby liquor store.

“Some of them had their hands in the air,” he said. “They were happy.”

Retired officer Arthur Teeter, who worked in the radio room at the police headquarters at the time, said they received numerous reports of an jubilant crowd on the roof of 2801 John F. Kennedy Blvd. Officers were dispatched to the address but found the roof to be empty by the time they got there, NJ.com reported.

The building was cited a few days later in a WCBS television report that claimed federal officials had detained eight men seen cheering on the roof. NJ.com could not verify the claim.

Mr. Teeter said that building was only one of several where 911 callers cited rooftop celebrations.

“There were enough calls that it was disturbing,” he said. “That’s the only word I can use.”

Three Jersey City cops, including a high-ranking official, also said they witnessed small groups of Muslims celebrating, but they would not speak for attribution, NJ.com reported.

They said their reluctance to speak publicly was due, in part, to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s repeated denial of Mr. Trump’s claim of seeing “thousands” of celebrants.

“I saw it with my own eyes,” the ranking officer told NJ.com. “In the end, police officers are professionals, so we just observed that stuff and sucked it up.”

Eleven other officers claimed to have been witnesses to celebrations in postings on Facebook after Mr. Trump made his comment, but they either declined to speak for attribution or did not return calls seeking comment, NJ.com reported.

Earlier this month, former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani recalled seeing “pockets” of people celebrating after the attack, but admitted Mr. Trump may be exaggerating his claims of seeing thousands.

“People were celebrating, he’s right about that. I didn’t see any evidence of thousands of people celebrating,” Mr. Giuliani said.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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