Imam Yahya Hendi, 42, of Frederick was awarded the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award last week for his efforts in helping local and national law enforcement agencies combat gangs, violence and terrorism through community outreach.
Hendi, who moved to the city in 2002 and has served as the imam of the Islamic Society of Frederick for nine years, earned the award for his work with the FBI Baltimore field office, where since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks he has engaged the Muslim community in dialogue with national and local law enforcement agencies.
The Director’s Community Leadership Award was established in 1990 and has been awarded by FBI field offices to honor individuals and organizations for their efforts in combating everything from cyber crime to terrorism in the U.S., according to an FBI statement.
Hendi, the first full-time Muslim chaplain of an American university, was also recognized for his distinguished position at Georgetown University. Hendi is also the Muslim chaplain at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, and a member of the Islamic Jurisprudence Council of North America. He is a graduate of the FBI Baltimore Citizen’s Academy.
“After Sept. 11, there was some amount of fear in the community about the FBI,” Hendi said. “There were statements made that made the Muslim community feel uncomfortable.
“People thought the [FBI] were just out there to get them,” Hendi added. “But they are out there trying to reduce violence and corruption, and keep them safe. We needed to acknowledge that.”
This urged Hendi to invite FBI officials, as well as local law enforcement officials to mosques and speak to area residents and clergyman of other faiths about the issues facing their communities, such as violence, drugs and gangs.
“The Muslim community is part of America and we want to be part of the community fighting gangs, corruption and the War on Terrorism also,” Hendi said. “We all had a stake. We all had something to lose and something to win.”
Hendi will be honored at a formal ceremony hosted by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on March 20.