RICHMOND, Texas – A religious leader is accused of committing sex crimes in Fort Bend County, according to authorities.
Mohamed Omar Ali, 59, was taken into custody Friday and charged with three counts of indecency with a child and one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14, said Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls during a news conference Monday.
Islamic Religious Leader Arrested for Sexual Assault. Jan 3, 2020, FBCSO served 4 warrants to local Islamic Religious Leader. Mohamed Omar Ali, 59, resides in Houston area of FBC. Ali currently in jail w/ $125,000 in bonds& immigration hold. Victims call Sgt. Howell, 281-341-4797 pic.twitter.com/f2cQqjrUfS— FBCSO Texas (@FBCSO) January 6, 2020
According to Nehls, Ali is considered a religious leader who spent time in many of the mosques in the Fort Bend County and Houston areas.
The investigation into Ali dates back to September 2019, when the FBCSO was contacted by the FBI and victims of Ali, said lead investigator Det, Mike Alexander.
According to Alexander, Ali was not employed by any of the mosques he visited, but he had been there the lead pray among other things.
Alexander said Ali was invited into many homes to teach lessons about the Quran to children, which is how he was able to gain access to his victims.
Shariq Ghani, with the Minaret Foundation, said that Ali was fluent in Arabic and had a strong understanding of the Quran, which makes him an ideal teacher.
Nehls said authorities know there are more victims out there and he is urging them to come forward despite any stigmas tied to culture or religion.
“The focus is on other victims and children that are out there,” Nehls said. “This can be a very sensitive subject because there is a lot of talk out there and a lot of misunderstanding. You will hear … that if a child in the Muslim community is assaulted in any way sexually, that may be considered unclean.”
Nehls said he and Ghani are working to try to convince victims to set aside any apprehension and please come forward.
Authorities will not be releasing the list of affiliated mosques, the genders of the victims or any other details to ensure complete anonymity to the victims, Nehls said.
Ali remains in custody and his bond is set at a total of $125,000 for all four charges. However, even if he was able to post bail, Ali would not be released because immigration has placed a hold on him.
Authorities said the crimes span at least seven years, but they could go back further and span more states because Ali has traveled, taught and been to other mosques across the country.
Nehls said anyone with information or any victims willing to come forward can contact the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office and 281-342-4665.