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Columbia man charged with plotting Islamic State terror attack on Kansas City

The Kansas City Star

February 21, 2017

A Columbia man is accused of plotting a Presidents Day jihadist terrorist attack on buses, trains and a train station in Kansas City.


Robert Lorenzo Hester Jr., 25, was charged in U.S. District Court of Kansas City with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.


The charges were the culmination of a months-long FBI investigation during which Hester allegedly expressed his willingness to assist in what he believed was an Islamic State plan to cause mass casualties in an attack on U.S. soil.


During the investigation, undercover FBI employees posing as Islamic State operatives met with Hester on numerous occasions. At their request, he allegedly bought items that he believed were to be used in constructing bombs, including nails to cause maximum casualties.


He was arrested Friday after a final meeting with an undercover FBI employee he believed to be an Islamic State sympathizer, according to court documents.


An FBI employee told Hester that the attacks were planned for Presidents Day in Kansas City.


Hester allegedly predicted that Monday was “going to be a good day for Muslims worldwide” and that it felt “good to help strike back at the true terrorist.”


“First on social media, then during face-to-face meetings with an undercover FBI employee, this defendant repeatedly expressed his intent to engage in acts of violent jihad against the United States,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tammy Dickinson said in a written statement. “He believed he was part of an ISIS-sponsored terrorist attack that would result in the deaths and injuries of many innocent victims,” she added, using a common acronym for the Islamic State.


Dickinson’s office announced the charges Tuesday after Hester made an initial appearance in federal court.


Officials said he was closely monitored by the FBI throughout the alleged plot. To ensure Hester didn’t actually carry out an attack, an undercover FBI employee threatened Hester’s family if he committed any violence outside what they were planning, according to court documents.


Hester is the married father of two small children, and his wife is pregnant with a third child. His wife declined to comment when reached by The Star by phone Tuesday.


Prosecutors said Hester is a Missouri-born American citizen. He joined the U.S. Army in 2012 and completed basic combat training, but during advanced training he was cited for violating numerous Army regulations and received a general discharge in mid-2013.


An Army spokeswoman said that general discharges are typically for “service members whose service is satisfactory, but involved situations where the soldier’s conduct and/or performance of duty were not so meritorious to warrant an honorable discharge.”


“Recipients of general discharges usually have engaged in minor misconduct or have received nonjudicial punishment under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” the spokeswoman said.


The investigation into Hester began in August after the FBI received tips from multiple sources about social media posts in which he expressed his dislike of the United States and his adherence to radical Islamic theology, according to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal charges.


During the investigation, Hester allegedly said “that the U.S. government should be ‘overthrown,’ and suggested ‘hitting’ the government ‘hard,’ while noting that it would not be ‘a one man job,’ ” prosecutors said. Hester identified categories of potential targets for attack, such as oil production facilities and Wall Street, and said he wanted a “global jihad.”


His social media posts included pictures of weapons and the black flag used by the Islamic State, prosecutors said.


One Facebook page identified in court documents as belonging to Hester, under the alias Rami Talib, includes a photo of Hester and his two children. Hester’s own Facebook page shows photos of guns, posts about the Islamic State and articles questioning official accounts of attacks on police last year in Baton Rouge, La., and Dallas. One of the last updates visible on the page, from July 19, reads: “Need a break before I start breaking necks #fedup.”


According to the affidavit:


Last October, Hester — under the alias Ali Talib Muhammad — sent a friend request to an FBI employee using an undercover identity.


The employee contacted Hester by private message two days after Hester reportedly had been released from jail after a domestic disturbance in Columbia during which he was armed with a 9 mm handgun.


During subsequent social media communications, the FBI employee arranged for a meeting between Hester and like-minded “brothers.”


During a meeting Jan. 31, the undercover employee provided Hester with a list of items to purchase, including 9-volt batteries, duct tape, copper wire and roofing nails.


The undercover employee told Hester the materials were needed “to make … things … to bring some kind of destruction.”


Hester allegedly told the employee, “I’m just ready to help. I’m ready to help any way I can.”


He also allegedly said “I can’t wait” when informed that what was being planned would “bring them to their knees.”


Hester reportedly bought the items as instructed, and the FBI employee told him they were planning something 10 times bigger than the Boston Marathon bombings in which “a lot” of people would be killed.


When asked if he wanted out of the plot, Hester said, “I’m down.”


During that meeting, the undercover employee showed Hester three AK-47-style rifles and two .45-caliber handguns. The undercover worker said they needed more ammunition, and Hester told him he could buy some after he received his tax refund.


The undercover employee also showed Hester a backpack, which contained pipes and fuse, stating, “These are bombs right here.”


The undercover employee explained that the duct tape Hester provided would be used to tape the bombs together, which Hester acknowledged, and that the nails Hester provided would “cut peoples’ heads off.” Hester reportedly responded: “Oh yeah. I know,” indicating he understood the nails were to be used as shrapnel for bombs.


The undercover employee said they had more backpacks that they were going to put in different locations. Hester acknowledged that he understood, and allegedly stated that they had to be smarter than the Boston Marathon bombers. Hester again confirmed that he was “down,” the affidavit says, and that he understood they had to “lay low” and act in a manner to avoid detection.


On Thursday, an undercover FBI employee messaged Hester that the “party” they were planning would take place on Presidents Day in Kansas City. The next day, Hester met with a second undercover employee at a storage facility they were scouting. Hester was arrested.


At Tuesday’s court hearing, a judge ordered that Hester remain in custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for Friday.


Prosecutors filed notice Tuesday that they would oppose bond for Hester.


“The United States submits that there is clear and convincing evidence that there are no conditions which the court could place on the defendant’s release which would reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance in court and the safety of the community,” prosecutors stated.


No lawyer is listed for Hester in court records.



'He was a normal little boy' Mother opens up about son becoming a murderous jihadist


THE MOTHER of an adorable little boy who grew up to become a merciless Jihadist appeared on today's This Morning to open up about grieving her murderous son, who was shot dead at 25.

By ADAM MILLER
PUBLISHED: 11:42, Wed, Oct 21, 2015
Sunday Express

Thomas Evans was "a normal little boy with great sense of humour who was warm and caring," his mother Sally told Phillip Schofield and Amanda Holden.

His brother Michael joined her on the daily topical show where he explained: "We were good friends and grew up with the same friends - until he converted."

Thomas' family said they began to notice changes in him after he split with his girlfriend. Soon after, his parents' marriage broke down and the teenager turned to the gym where he made a group of Muslim friends.

Later, he converted to Islam, which his mother said she was "happy" for him to do.

"I just wanted him to focus his life again," she added. "But later he changed. The spark had gone out of him; he lost his enjoyment for life; he couldn't listen to music - all the things that young boys do."

Thomas then began "preaching" to his loved ones and discouraged them from their ways of living.

But they took a stance, said Sally: "I wouldn't change the way I cook or anything to please him. He wouldn't even use my pots and pans."

Thomas changed his name to Abdul Hakim and fled to Somalia, where he killed dozens of innocents and beheaded his victims under the terrifying guise White Beast.

Sally and Michael had no idea of the monster their son became and would go months without hearing from him at all.

Tragically, in 2011, a phone call form a journalist confirmed every parent's worst nightmare. Thomas had been killed and Sally was left with nothing but photographs on Twitter to identify him.

Two weeks later, ITV News were in contact with footage of her son in action, and the unfathomable reality hit home.

Amanda asked: "How do you grieve your son when you know of all the awful things he's done?"

"I have him in two compartments," replied Sally before finishing: "There are so many questions that I have no answer to."


Prosecutors reveal terrorism charges against 'Jihad Jane'

By Carrie Johnson

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 9, 2010; 5:20 PM

Federal prosecutors unsealed criminal terrorism charges Tuesday against a Pennsylvania woman who allegedly used the Internet to recruit men and women across the globe to "wage violent jihad."

Colleen R. LaRose, a U.S. citizen who used the nicknames "Fatima LaRose" and "Jihad Jane," has been in custody for months while the FBI and Justice Department pursued leads in the investigation, according to federal sources.

She is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, making false statements and attempted identity theft in connection with the stealing of a U.S. passport. LaRose and five unidentified co-conspirators allegedly discussed how her appearance would help her blend into Western society and avoid detection by authorities.

The indictment against LaRose, who was born in 1963 and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs, "underscores the evolving nature of the threat we face," said David Kris, assistant attorney general for the national security division.

Michael L. Levy, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, said the case "demonstrates the very real danger lurking on the Internet" and "shatters any lingering thought that we can spot a terrorist based on appearance."

LaRose faces a possible sentence of life in prison if she is convicted. Her appearance in court to answer the charges has not yet been scheduled.  

 

US extremists with training abroad raise concerns

By DEVLIN BARRETT (AP)
July 30, 2009

WASHINGTON — Antiterrorism officials are increasingly concerned about American-bred extremists who travel abroad for terror training and then return home, sometimes quietly recruiting followers over the years.

Federal authorities have issued a bulletin to law enforcement agencies around the country on the heels of the arrest Monday in North Carolina of a man whose devotion to the cause of violent jihad allegedly began 20 years ago.

The internal bulletin — reviewed by The Associated Press — says the FBI and the Homeland Security Department are very worried about the danger posed by little-noticed Americans traveling abroad to learn terrorism techniques, then coming back to the United States, where they may be dormant for long periods of time while they look for followers to recruit for future attacks.

On Monday, the FBI arrested Daniel Patrick Boyd, 39, charging he was the ringleader of a group of aspiring international terrorists.

The charges "underscore our ongoing concerns about individuals returning to the United States after training or fighting on behalf of extremists overseas," said Justice Department spokesman Richard Kolko.

"As a general matter, such individuals may be in a unique position to solicit others in the U.S. to follow their example, given their combat experience, their network of overseas contacts and their credibility among young radicals seeking an authority figure," Kolko said.

Six other suspects — including Boyd's two sons — were also charged in what prosecutors say was a long-running conspiracy to train for violence and then fight overseas.

Boyd's wife, Sabrina, said in a statement Tuesday that the charges are unsubstantiated.

"We are an ordinary family," she said. "We are decent people who care about other human beings."

The internal terrorism bulletin says Boyd is part of what investigators believe is an unsettling trend of Americans attracted to terrorist groups.

Often, such individuals are what officials call "self-recruiting," using only an Internet connection to plug into a network of like-minded people who help point them toward militant groups.

Just a week ago, federal prosecutors revealed they had in custody an American, Bryant Neal Vinas, who was raised on Long Island, N.Y., converted to Islam and traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan to train alongside senior al-Qaida operatives.

And on Monday, a Virginia man was sentenced to life in prison for joining al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate then-President George W. Bush. Authorities say he joined al-Qaida while attending college in Saudi Arabia.

The police bulletin, issued the evening after Boyd's arrest in North Carolina, also cites a case of what authorities say were aspiring terrorists in Oregon. In that case, prosecutors won a conviction of a man for trying to set up a terror training camp in 1999 in Bly, Ore.

Boyd and the others arrested Monday are not charged with planning attacks in the United States. Prosecutors say the seven men repeatedly traveled overseas hoping to engage in violence, and trained in military tactics at a private property in North Carolina.

The Boyds lived at an unassuming lakeside home in a rural area south of Raleigh and had a family-operated drywall business.

In 1991, Boyd and his brother were convicted of bank robbery in Pakistan. They were also accused of carrying identification showing they belonged to the radical Afghan guerrilla group, Hezb-e-Islami, or Party of Islam. Each was sentenced to have a foot and a hand cut off for the robbery, but the decision was later overturned.

Their wives told The Associated Press in an interview at the time that the couples had U.S. roots but the United States was a country of "kafirs" — Arabic for heathens.

Sabrina Boyd said in her statement that her husband was in Afghanistan fighting against the Soviet Union "with the full backing of the United States government."

Associated Press writer Mike Baker in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.

 

Islam convert gets 35 years in plot to attack mall

October 1, 2008

CHICAGO (AP) — A 24-year-old convert to Islam has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for plotting to set off hand grenades in a crowded shopping mall during the Christmas season.

Derrick Shareef must serve 30 of those years — with five off for good behavior — unless he can get an appeals court to reduce the sentence.

He was arrested in 2006 on charges of scheming to use weapons of mass destruction at the Cherryvale Mall in the northern Illinois city of Rockford.

Federal Judge David Coar said Tuesday he didn't believe Shareef was evil. But he said people could have been severely hurt if federal agents hadn't broken up the plot.

Shareef described himself as a devout Muslim who once admired Osama bin Laden but has now realized violence is wrong.

 

Terrorists recruiting 'white Muslims'

Monday, April 17, 2006

By WILLIAM J. KOLE
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- His code name was Maximus, and he held secret meetings in a shabby room at the Banana City Hotel on the outskirts of Sarajevo.

Bosnian police put him under surveillance, and in a raid last fall on his apartment on Poligonska Street, authorities seized explosives, a suicide bomber belt and a videotape of masked men begging Allah's forgiveness for what they were about to do.

What they planned, investigators believe, was to blow up a European embassy. But compounding their concern, they say, was the ringleader's background: Maximus turned out to be Mirsad Bektasevic, a 19-year-old Swedish citizen of Serbian origin with ties to a senior al-Qaida operative.

Terrorists have been working to recruit non-Arab sympathizers - so-called "white Muslims" with Western features who theoretically could more easily blend into European cities and execute attacks - according to classified intelligence documents obtained by The Associated Press.

A 252-page confidential report jointly compiled by Croatian and U.S. intelligence on potentially dangerous Islamic groups in Bosnia suggests the recruitment drive may have begun as long as four years ago, when Arab militants ran up against tough post-9/11 security obstacles.

"They judge that it is high time that their job on this territory should be taken over by new local forces ... people who are born here and live here have an advantage which would make their job easier. By their appearance, they are less obvious," the report reads.

Arabs, it adds, "have become too obvious, which has made their job difficult."

Bosnia's minister of security, Barisa Colak, acknowledged the existence of the intelligence report but said authorities had no concrete evidence that recruitment efforts are widespread. There are no known cases of a Balkan "white Muslim" recruit being involved in an actual attack.

"Even so, we have to be extremely careful and serious and not miss anything," he told the AP.

Even if systematic recruitment has been occurring, citizens of ex-Yugoslavia need visas to travel to Western Europe or the United States - a complicated and time-consuming process.

Dragan Lukac, the deputy director of SIPA - Bosnia's equivalent of the FBI - said authorities are taking no chances. Undercover counterterrorism agents have placed dozens of suspects under 24-hour surveillance and the country is "very intensively" sharing information with the FBI, the CIA, Scotland Yard and other agencies, he said.

"Bosnia has become a breeding ground for terrorists, including some on international wanted lists. We can clearly say that," Lukac told the AP in an interview.

Some disaffected young Bosnians may be receptive to the terrorist message: After the U.S.-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was considered "almost fashionable" to spout extremist sentiment in public, Lukac said, especially among those "frustrated and influenced by ideology, Islamized through various extremist streams."

Authorities who arrested Bektasevic and several alleged associates last October tipped off police in Britain, who quickly arrested three suspected British Muslim accomplices. They also alerted authorities in Denmark, who took seven others into custody. Investigators say they since have established that Bektasevic maintained close ties to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Since the 2001 attacks on the United States, Bosnia has deported dozens of Arabs and other foreign Muslims for suspected ties to terrorist groups or alleged involvement in dummy charities believed to have raised cash to bankroll attacks.

In February, the country launched an exhaustive review of all cases in which citizenship was granted to foreigners dating back to 1992 and vowed to deport any with suspected links to terrorism.

Police also confirmed they are keeping close tabs on dozens of mujahedeen - Islamic fighters who came to Bosnia to fight on the Muslim side in the 1992-95 war. Although most left for other conflicts in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq and elsewhere, some stayed and married local women.

The vast majority of Bosnia's Muslims rejects the mujahedeen's fiery brand of Islam. Yet young, restless men frustrated with 40 percent joblessness and angered by real or perceived insults to Islam can be open to hard-line dogma, the Prague-based think tank Transitions Online said in a recent report.

"A pool of potential white recruits carrying Bosnian or even Western passports would presumably be of great value to terrorists," it said, calling the Balkan country "a deeply traumatized society susceptible to extremism."

"Muslims are going through a very tempting time," conceded Mustafa Ceric, the leader of Bosnia's Islamic community. He insisted, however, that there was no stomach for extremist violence after years of devastating ethnic conflict.

"If we wanted terrorism, we had a chance to do so in the heat of our suffering, and we did not," he said in an interview.

NATO's top commander in Bosnia, U.S. Brig. Gen. Louis Weber, concurred in an interview, saying Bosnian Muslims overwhelmingly are moderate and secular, and the terror threat is fairly low because "there isn't a large community that would support that kind of activity here."

Although Ceric keeps close tabs on Bosnia's imams, the 6,500 European Union peacekeepers who now patrol Bosnia are one-tenth the number NATO deployed nationwide in 1995, meaning far fewer outside eyes and ears combing the country to disrupt any recruitment effort.

The U.S.-Croatian report says infiltration actually dates back long before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. It says Islamic militants with ties to al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations have been crisscrossing the Balkans for more than 15 years, financed in part with cash from narcotics smuggling and coming from Afghanistan and points further east via Turkey, Kosovo and Albania.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, evidence has emerged that extremists have been trying to carve out a beachhead in the Balkans. The region is home to 8 million Muslims, roughly a third of Europe's Islamic faithful, and arms and explosives are easily obtained in what Lukac calls "a kind of El Dorado" for criminals.

Several Islamic militants who fought in the former Yugoslavia went to Spain, bringing back new military skills and expertise as well as access to contacts throughout Europe, a Western diplomatic official with intimate knowledge of counterterrorism measures in Spain told the AP on condition of anonymity.

"Yugoslavia was a meeting point," he said.

Among the Islamic leaders Bosnian authorities are monitoring closely is Nezim Halilovic, chief mufti of the King Fahd Cultural Center. The mosque, one of dozens being built around Sarajevo with Saudi donations, can accommodate 5,000 people and is part of a $9 million complex that includes a library, a sports hall, restaurants and classrooms for studying Arabic and the Quran.

Its imam has repeatedly has been accused of using his sermons to preach violence in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Israel, Iraq and Kashmir. Nothing like that was heard at one of his recent noon prayer sermons; addressing throngs of heavily bearded men and burqa-clad women, he spoke proudly of "bringing Bosnian Muslims back to Islam."

Halilovic denies he is a radical and insisted Bektasevic and the others arrested last autumn were the victims of an elaborate setup.

"This is just a trick played on the Muslims," he said in an interview. "They were framed to bring the world's attention on Bosnia-Herzegovina as a 'terrorist country.' Europe and the whole world should not be afraid of Bosnian Muslims."

 

O.C. native ID'd as al-Qaida figure on video

Saturday, July 8, 2006

FBI official, mosque leader say speaker is ex-resident now sought for questioning.

By VIK JOLLY
The Orange County Register

A man identified as an al-Qaida operative on a video posted to the Internet this week is a former Orange County teenager who converted to Islam – and is being sought by the FBI – a local mosque leader said Friday.

Haitham Bundakji, vice chairman and spokesman for the Islamic Society of Orange County, said the face he saw on a computer screen Friday was that of the man who slapped him during an altercation at the Garden Grove mosque in 1997.

Adam Gadahn was arrested and sentenced to two days in jail and 40 hours of community service after pleading guilty to an assault charge.

Bundakji said he was sure of the man's identity even when his face was hidden in previous militant videos. Now, with no disguise, he was even more certain.

"He's the same man I was able to identify when his family denied it was him, with his voice, head movement and I could see his eyes also," said Bundakji after seeing an image of the bearded speaker on an Internet site.

Gadahn's relatives could not be reached for comment Friday.

"It certainly appears to be Adam Gadahn," said Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the FBI's Los Angeles office. "The bureau is employing further technical methods to evaluate the tape in order to verify it's him."

The FBI has sought Gadahn for questioning since 2004 on suspicion of making terrorist threats against the United States.

Although the agency has not linked him to specific terrorist activities, Gadahn is believed to have trained at an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan after leaving Orange County in 1998, and to have worked as a translator for al-Qaida leaders.

Gadahn, who is now about 29, grew up on a goat ranch in Riverside County and lived in Santa Ana and Garden Grove from 1995 to 1998.

The child of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, he converted to Islam in front of a packed sanctuary at the Islamic Society of Orange County in 1995.

Bundakji said Gadahn had not considerably changed in appearance in the video.

"He is the very same person except he's little older," he said.

In the tape, the speaker believed to be Gadahn is seen in a robe and a turban, speaking in English for about five minutes. He refers to recent suspected atrocities by U.S. Marines in Iraq and suggests that a shooting spree at Camp Pendleton's housing facilities would be justified in response.

"He's the only known individual of Britain or American background in senior levels of al-Qaida," said Evan Kohlmann, a New York consultant.

Another speaker is Ayman al-Zawahri, the deputy leader of the terror network, who says that two of the four suicide bombers who attacked London on July 7, 2005, spent time at an al-Qaida camp to prepare themselves for a suicide mission.

In the video, the man believed to be Gadahn speaks against British and U.S. involvement in the Middle East and Asia, saying no Muslim should "shed tears" for Westerners killed by al-Qaida attacks.

The speaker was identified with the Arabic nickname "Azzam al-Amriki" – Azzam, or "Adam the American." The same name was used in previous al-Qaida videos by the man identified as Gadahn.

An excerpt is available at the Web site www.siteinstitute.org.

"We sure would like to know where (the tape) was made," said FBI special agent Richard Kolko. The speaker believed to Gadahn "we feel, has information on possible al-Qaida operatives that we would want to talk to or apprehend."

 

The Failure of Western Universities

Kari Vogt, historian of religion at the University of Oslo, has stated that Ibn Warraq’s book “Why I am Not a Muslim” is just as irrelevant to the study of Islam as The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion are to the study of Judaism. She is widely considered as one of the leading expert on Islam in Norway, and is frequently quoted in national media on matters related to Islam and Muslim immigration. People who get most of their information from the mainstream media, which goes for the majority of the population, will thus be systematically fed biased information and half-truths about Islam from our universities, which have largely failed to uphold the ideal of free inquiry. Unfortunately, this situation is pretty similar at universities and colleges throughout the West.

London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), scene to a growing number of anti-Semitic incidents from an increasingly pro-Islamic campus, issued a threat to one of its Jewish students to cease his protests against anti-Semitism at the University. Gavin Gross, an American, had been leading a campaign against the deterioration of conditions for Jewish students at SOAS, which is part of the University of London. SOAS had witnessed an escalation of anti-Jewish activity, in both severity and frequency. At the beginning of the year, the Islamic Society screened a video which compared Judaism with Satanism.

Meanwhile, in a move to “promote understanding between Islam and the West,” Saudi Arabia donated about SR13 million to a leading British museum. The officials said the money from Prince Sultan would pay for a new Saudi and Islamic gallery, which would help to portray Islamic culture and civilization in right perspectives. It would also help fund scholarships for Saudi students at Oxford University.

The Saudis and other oil-rich Arabs are busy buying influence over what Westerners hear about Islam. Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, a member of the Saudi Royal Family, is an international investor currently ranked among the ten richest persons in the world. He is known in the USA for a $10 million check he offered to New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in October 2001 for the Twin Towers Fund. Mayor Giuliani returned the gift when he learned that the prince had called for the United States to “re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.”

Prince Talal is also creating a TV channel, Al-Resalah, to target American Muslims. He already broadcasts in Saudi Arabia. In 2005, Bin Talal bought 5.46% of voting shares in News Corp, the parent of Fox News. In December 2005 he boasted to Middle East Online about his ability to change what viewers see on Fox News. Covering the riots in France that fall, Fox ran a banner saying: “Muslim riots.” Bin Talal was not happy. “I picked up the phone and called Murdoch [...] [and told him] these are not Muslim riots, these are riots out of poverty,” he said. “Within 30 minutes, the title was changed from Muslim riots to civil riots.”

A survey conducted by Cornell University found that around half of Americans had a negative view of Islam. Addressing a press conference at the headquarters of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), Paul Findley, a former US Congressman, said that the cancer of anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiments was spreading in American society and required corrective measures to stamp out. It was announced that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) would be launching a massive $50 million media campaign involving television, radio and newspapers. “We are planning to meet Prince Alwaleed ibn Talal for his financial support to our project. He has been generous in the past.”

The World Assembly of Muslim Youth, founded by the nephew of Osama Bin Laden in the US, is sharing offices with the Islamic Society of North America and the Islamic Centre of Canada. WAMY Canada runs a series of Islamic camps and pilgrimages for youth. US Special Agent Kane quoted from a publication prepared by the WAMY that said: “Hail! Hail! O Sacrificing Soldiers! To Us! To Us! So we may defend the flag on this Day of Jihad, are you miserly with your blood?! And has life become dearer to you? And staying behind sweeter?” According to him, 14- to 18-year-olds were the target audience for these teachings.

Harvard University and Georgetown University received $20 million donations from Prince bin Talal to finance Islamic studies. “For a university with global aspirations, it is critical that Harvard have a strong program on Islam that is worldwide and interdisciplinary in scope,” said Steven E. Hyman, Harvard’s provost. Georgetown said it would use the gift – the second-largest it has ever received – to expand its Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Martin Kramer, the author of “Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America,” said: “Prince Alwaleed knows that if you want to have an impact, places like Harvard or Georgetown, which is inside the Beltway, will make a difference.”

Georgetown professor John Esposito, founding director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, has, probably more than any other academic, contributed to downplaying the Jihadist threat to the West. Kramer states that during his early days in the 1970s, Esposito had prepared his thesis under his Muslim mentor Ismail R. Faruqi, a Palestinian pan-Islamist and theorist of the “Islamization of knowledge.” During the first part of his career, John L. Esposito never studied or taught at a major Middle East center. In the 80s, he published books such as Islam: The Straight Path, the first of a series of favorable books on Islam. In 1993, Esposito arrived at Georgetown University, and has later claimed the status of “authority” in the field.

In 2003, officials from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) recognized Esposito as the current “Abu Taleb of Islam” and the Muslim community, not only in North America but also worldwide. In appreciation of his “countless effort towards dispelling myths about Muslim societies and cultures,” Dr. Sayyid Syeed, Secretary General of the ISNA compared the role of Esposito to that of Abu Taleb, Muhammad’s non-Muslim uncle who gave unconditional support to the Muslim community in Mecca at a time when it was still weak and vulnerable.

The rise to prominence of Esposito symbolizes the failure of critical studies of Islam – some would argue critical studies of just about anything non-Western – in Western Universities in the 1980s and 90s. Frenchman Olivier Roy as early as 1994 published a book entitled The Failure of Political Islam and wrote of the Middle East as having entered the stage of “post-Islamism.” As Martin Kramer puts it, “the academics were so preoccupied with “Muslim Martin Luthers” that they never got around to producing a single serious analysis of bin Laden and his indictment of America. Bin Laden’s actions, statements, and videos were an embarrassment to academics who had assured Americans that “political Islam” was retreating from confrontation.

At least US Universities are noticing bin Laden now. Bruce Lawrence, Duke professor of religion, has published a book of Osama bin Laden’s speeches and writings. “If you read him in his own words, he sounds like somebody who would be a very high-minded and welcome voice in global politics,” Lawrence said. Lawrence has also claimed that Jihad means “being a better student, a better colleague, a better business partner. Above all, to control one’s anger.”

Others believe we make too much fuss about this whole Jihad business. John Mueller, Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University, in the September 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs asked whether the terrorist threat to the USA had just been made up: “A fully credible explanation for the fact that the United States has suffered no terrorist attacks since 9/11 is that the threat posed by homegrown or imported terrorists – like that presented by Japanese Americans during World War II or by American Communists after it – has been massively exaggerated.” “The massive and expensive homeland security apparatus erected since 9/11 may be persecuting some, spying on many, inconveniencing most, and taxing all to defend the United States against an enemy that scarcely exists.”

Lee Kaplan joined a conference of MESA, the Middle East Studies Association, in San Francisco: “Free copies of a glossy newsmagazine called the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs were being distributed to the academics in attendance. Most people, upon seeing the publication, might assume it was similar to Newsweek or Time.” “What most people don’t know is that the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs magazine and Web site – indeed, the entire organization behind it – are funded by Saudi Arabia, a despotic regime that has been quietly buying its way onto every campus in America, particularly through Middle East Studies centers in the U.S.”

“I met Nabil Al-Tikriti, a professor from the University of Chicago.” “I’d invite those academic Middle East scholars who actually support America’s war effort overseas and security needs here at home. People like Daniel Pipes or Martin Kramer.” I continued, “Why aren’t they here at the MESA Conference?” “They’d be shouted down,” replied Al-Tikriti.

Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald shares his worries about MESA: “As an organization, MESA has over the past two decades slowly but surely been taken over by apologists for Islam.” “The apologetics consists in hardly ever discussing Jihad, dhimmitude, or indeed even introducing the students to Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira.” “Books on the level of [Karen] Armstrong and Esposito are assigned, and feelgood nonsense like Maria Rosa Menocal’s The Ornament of the World.”

“No member of MESA has done as much to make available to a wide public important new work on Muhammad, on the origins of the Qur’an, and on the history of early Islam, as that lone wolf, Ibn Warraq. No one has done such work on the institution of the dhimmi as that lone louve, Bat Ye’or. It is an astounding situation, where much of the most important work is not being done in universities, because many university centers have been seized by a kind of Islamintern International.”

Hugh Fitzgerald is right. The Legacy of Jihad, one of the most important works on Jihad to appear in recent years, was written by Andrew Bostom, a medical doctor who was dissatisfied with much of the material available on the subject following the terror attacks in 2001. Bat Ye’or, perhaps the leading expert on the Islamic institution of dhimmitude, is self-taught. And Ibn Warraq has written several excellent books on the origins of the Koran and the early days of Islamic history while remaining outside of the established University system. This is all a great credit to them personally, but it is not a credit to the status of Western Universities.

It is difficult to understand why American or Western authorities still allow the Saudis to fund what is being taught about Islam to future Western leaders, years after several Saudi nationals staged the worst terror attack in Western history. The United States didn’t allow Nazi Germany to buy influence at US Universities. Although the Soviet Communists had their apologists in the West as well as paid agents, the US never allowed the Soviet Union to openly sponsor its leading colleges. So why are they allowing Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations to do so? The Saudis are enemies, and should be banned from exerting direct influence over our Universities and major media. It is a matter of national security.

Still, although bribes and Saudi oil money represent a serious obstacle to critical Western studies of Islam, they do by no means make up all of the problems. Quite a few academics are so immersed with anti-Western ideology that they will be happy to bash the West and applaud Islam for free.

Few works have done more to corrupt critical debate of Islam in Western institutions for higher learning during the past generation than the 1979 book Orientalism by Edward Said. It spawned a veritable army of Saidists, or Third World Intellectual Terrorism as Ibn Warraq puts it. According to Ibn Warraq, “the latter work taught an entire generation of Arabs the art of self-pity – “were it not for the wicked imperialists, racists and Zionists, we would be great once more” – encouraged the Islamic fundamentalist generation of the 1980s, and bludgeoned into silence any criticism of Islam.”

“The aggressive tone of Orientalism is what I have called ‘intellectual terrorism,’ since it does not seek to convince by arguments or historical analysis but by spraying charges of racism, imperialism, Eurocentrism” on anybody who might disagree. “One of his preferred moves is to depict the Orient as a perpetual victim of Western imperialism, dominance and aggression. The Orient is never seen as an actor, an agent with free-will, or designs or ideas of its own.”

Ibn Warraq also criticizes Said for his lack of recognition of the tradition of critical thinking in the West. Had he delved a little deeper into Greek civilization and history, and bothered to look at Herodotus’ great history, Said “would have encountered two features which were also deep characteristics of Western civilization and which Said is at pains to conceal and refuses to allow: the seeking after knowledge for its own sake.” “The Greek word, historia, from which we get our “history,” means “research” or “inquiry,” and Herodotus believed his work was the outcome of research: what he had seen, heard, and read but supplemented and verified by inquiry.”

“Intellectual inquisitiveness is one of the hallmarks of Western civilisation. As J.M. Roberts put it, “The massive indifference of some civilisations and their lack of curiosity about other worlds is a vast subject. Why, until very recently, did Islamic scholars show no wish to translate Latin or western European texts into Arabic? Why when the English poet Dryden could confidently write a play focused on the succession in Delhi after the death of the Mogul emperor Aurungzebe, is it a safe guess that no Indian writer ever thought of a play about the equally dramatic politics of the English seventeenth-century court? It is clear that an explanation of European inquisitiveness and adventurousness must lie deeper than economics, important though they may have been.”

Martin Kramer points out the irony that novelist Salman Rushdie praised Said’s courage: “Professor Said periodically receives threats to his safety from the Jewish Defense League in America,” said Rushdie in 1986, “and I think it is important for us to appreciate that to be a Palestinian in New York – in many ways the Palestinian – is not the easiest of fates.” But as it happened, Said’s fate became infinitely preferable to Rushdie’s, after Khomeini called for Rushdie’s death in 1989. It was ironic that Rushdie, a postcolonial literary lion of impeccable left-wing credentials, should have been made by some Muslims into the very personification of Orientalist hostility to Islam.”

In his essay The Intellectuals and Socialism, F.A. Hayek noted already decades ago that “Socialism has never and nowhere been at first a working-class movement. It is a construction of theorists” and intellectuals, “the secondhand dealers in ideas.” “The typical intellectual need not possess special knowledge of anything in particular, nor need he even be particularly intelligent, to perform his role as intermediary in the spreading of ideas. The class does not consist of only journalists, teachers, ministers, lecturers, publicists, radio commentators, writers of fiction, cartoonists, and artists.” It also “includes many professional men and technicians, such as scientists and doctors.”

“These intellectuals are the organs which modern society has developed for spreading knowledge and ideas, and it is their convictions and opinions which operate as the sieve through which all new conceptions must pass before they can reach the masses.”

“The most brilliant and successful teachers are today more likely than not to be socialists.” According to Hayek, this is not because Socialists are more intelligent, but because “a much higher proportion of socialists among the best minds devote themselves to those intellectual pursuits which in modern society give them a decisive influence on public opinion.” “Socialist thought owes its appeal to the young largely to its visionary character.” “The intellectual, by his whole disposition, is uninterested in technical details or practical difficulties. What appeal to him are the broad visions.”

He warns that “It may be that as a free society as we have known it carries in itself the forces of its own destruction, that once freedom has been achieved it is taken for granted and ceases to be valued, and that the free growth of ideas which is the essence of a free society will bring about the destruction of the foundations on which it depends.” “Does this mean that freedom is valued only when it is lost, that the world must everywhere go through a dark phase of socialist totalitarianism before the forces of freedom can gather strength anew?” “If we are to avoid such a development, we must be able to offer a new liberal program which appeals to the imagination. We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage.”

In his book Modern Culture, Roger Scruton explains the continued attraction of left-wing ideology in this way:

“The Marxist theory is as form of economic determinism, distinguished by the belief that fundamental changes in economic relations are invariably revolutionary, involving a violent overthrow of the old order, and a collapse of the political “super-structure” which had been built on it. The theory is almost certainly false: nevertheless, there is something about the Marxian picture which elicits, in enlightened people, the will to believe. By explaining culture as a by-product of material forces, Marx endorses the Enlightenment view, that material forces are the only forces there are. The old culture, with its gods and traditions and authorities, is made to seem like a web of illusions – ‘the opiate of the people,’ which quietens their distress.”

Hence, according to Scruton, in the wake of the Enlightenment, “there came not only the reaction typified by Burke and Herder, and embellished by the romantics, but also a countervailing cynicism towards the very idea of culture. It became normal to view culture from the outside, not as a mode of thought which defines our moral inheritance, but as an elaborate disguise, through which artificial powers represent themselves as natural rights. Thanks to Marx, debunking theories of culture have become a part of culture. And these theories have the structure pioneered by Marx: they identify power as the reality, and culture as the mask; they also foretell some future ‘liberation’ from the lies that have been spun by our oppressors.”

It is striking to notice that this is exactly the theme of author Dan Brown’s massive international hit The Da Vinci Code from 2003, thought to be one of the ten best-selling books of all time. In addition to being a straightforward thriller, the novel claims that the entire modern history of Christianity is a conspiracy of the Church to cover up the truth about Jesus and his marriage to Mary Magdalene.

Australian writer Keith Windschuttle, a former Marxist, is tired of that anti-Western slant that permeates academia: “For the past three decades and more, many of the leading opinion makers in our universities, the media and the arts have regarded Western culture as, at best, something to be ashamed of, or at worst, something to be opposed. The scientific knowledge that the West has produced is simply one of many “ways of knowing.”

“Cultural relativism claims there are no absolute standards for assessing human culture. Hence all cultures should be regarded as equal, though different.” “The plea for acceptance and open-mindedness does not extend to Western culture itself, whose history is regarded as little more than a crime against the rest of humanity. The West cannot judge other cultures but must condemn its own.”

He urges us to remember how unique some elements of our culture are: “The concepts of free enquiry and free expression and the right to criticise entrenched beliefs are things we take so much for granted they are almost part of the air we breathe. We need to recognise them as distinctly Western phenomena. They were never produced by Confucian or Hindu culture.” “But without this concept, the world would not be as it is today. There would have been no Copernicus, Galileo, Newton or Darwin.”

The re-writing of Western history has become so bad that even playwright William Shakespeare has been proclaimed a closet Muslim. “Shakespeare would have delighted in Sufism,” said the Islamic scholar Martin Lings, himself a Sufi Muslim. According to The Guardian, Lings argued that Shakespeare’s “work resembles the teachings of the Islamic Sufi sect” in the International Shakespeare Globe Fellowship Lecture at Shakespeare’s own Globe Theatre in London. Lings spoke during Islam Awareness Week.

“It’s impossible for Shakespeare to have been a Muslim,” David N. Beauregard, a Shakespeare scholar and coeditor of Shakespeare and the Culture of Christianity in Early Modern England, told. Shakespeare “maintained Roman Catholic beliefs on crucial doctrinal differences.” Beauregard notes that “this is not to say that Shakespeare was occupied with writing religious drama, but only that a specific religious tradition informs his work.”

According to Robert Spencer, “Shakespeare is just the latest paradigmatic figure of Western Christian culture to be remade in a Muslim-friendly manner.” Recently the [US] State Department asserted, without a shred of evidence, that Christopher Columbus (who in fact praised Ferdinand and Isabella for driving the Muslims out of Spain in 1492, the same year as his first visit to the Americas) was aided on his voyages by a Muslim navigator. “The state of American education is so dismal today that teachers themselves are ill-equipped to counter these historical fantasies.”

The Gates of Vienna blog quoted a report by The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) on US Universities. Their survey revealed “a remarkable uniformity of political stance and pedagogical approach. Throughout the humanities and social sciences, the same issues surface over and over, regardless of discipline. In courses on literature, philosophy, and history; sociology, anthropology, and religious studies; women’s studies, American studies, [...] the focus is consistently on a set list of topics: race, class, gender, sexuality, and the “social construction of identity”; globalization, capitalism, and U.S. “hegemony”; the ubiquity of oppression and the destruction of the environment.”

“In class after class, the same essential message is repeated, in terms that, to an academic “outsider,” often seem virtually unintelligible.” “In short, the message is that the status quo, which is patriarchal, racist, hegemonic, and capitalist, must be “interrogated” and “critiqued” as a means of theorizing and facilitating a social transformation whose necessity and value are taken as a given.” “Differences between disciplines are beginning to disappear. Courses in such seemingly distinct fields as literature, sociology, and women’s studies, for example, have become mirror images of one another.”

Writer Charlotte Allen commented on how Harvard University President Lawrence Summers caused a storm by giving a speech speculating that innate differences between the sexes may have something to do with the fact that proportionately fewer women than men hold top positions in science. Summers in 2006 announced his intention to step down at the end of the school year, in part due to pressure caused by this speech. “Even if you’re not up on the scientific research – a paper Mr. Summers cited demonstrating that, while women overall are just as smart as men, significantly fewer women than men occupy the very highest intelligence brackets that produce scientific genius – common sense tells you that Mr. Summers has got to be right. Recently, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences passed a vote of no confidence in Mr. Summers. Wouldn’t it be preferable to talk openly about men’s and women’s strengths and weaknesses?”

Yes, Ms. Allen, it would. Summers may have been wrong, but it’s dangerous once we embark on a road where important issues are not debated at all. One of the hallmarks of Western civilization has been our thirst for asking questions about everything. Political Correctness is thus anti-Western both in its form and in its intent. It should be noted that in this case, Feminists were in the vanguard of PC, the same ideology that has blinded our Universities to the Islamic threat.

It makes it even worse when we know that other Feminists in academia are asserting that the veil, or even the burka, represent “an alternative Feminism.” Dr. Wairimu Njambi is an Assistant Professor of “Women’s Studies” at the Florida Atlantic University. Much of her scholarship is dedicated to advancing the notion that the cruel practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is actually a triumph for Feminism and that it is hateful to suggest otherwise. According to Njambi “anti-FGM discourse perpetuates a colonialist assumption by universalizing a particular western image of a ‘normal’ body and sexuality.”

Still, there are pockets of resistance. Professor Sigurd Skirbekk at the University of Oslo questions many of the assumptions underlying Western immigration policies. One of them is the notion that rich countries have a duty to take in all people from other nations that are suffering, either from natural disasters, political repression or overpopulation. According to him, it cannot be considered moral of the cultural, political and religious elites of these countries to allow their populations to grow unrestrained and then push their excess population onto other countries.

Skirbekk points out that European countries have earlier rejected the Germans when they used the argument of lebensraum as a motivation for their foreign policy. We should do the same thing now when other countries invoke the argument that they lack space for their population. According to him, there is plenty of literature available about the ecological challenges the world will be facing in this century. Running a too liberal immigration policy while refusing to confront such unpleasant moral issues is not a sustainable alternative in the long run. We will then only push difficult dilemmas onto future generations.

In Denmark, linguist Tina Magaard concludes that Islamic texts encourage terror and fighting to a far greater degree than the original texts of other religions. She has a PhD in Textual Analysis and Intercultural Communication from the Sorbonne in Paris, and has spent three years on a research project comparing the original texts of ten religions. “The texts in Islam distinguish themselves from the texts of other religions by encouraging violence and aggression against people with other religious beliefs to a larger degree. There are also straightforward calls for terror. This has long been a taboo in the research into Islam, but it is a fact we need to deal with.”

Moreover, there are hundreds of calls in the Koran for fighting against people of other faiths. “If it is correct that many Muslims view the Koran as the literal words of God, which cannot be interpreted or rephrased, then we have a problem. It is indisputable that the texts encourage terror and violence. Consequently, it must be reasonable to ask Muslims themselves how they relate to the text, if they read it as it is,” says Magaard.

The examples of Skirbekk, Magaard and others are indeed encouraging, but not numerous enough to substantially change the overall picture of Western academics largely paralyzed by Political Correctness and anti-Western sentiments.

Writer Mark Steyn comments on how “out in the real world it seems the true globalization success story of the 1990s was the export of ideology from a relatively obscure part of the planet to the heart of every Western city.” “Writing about the collapse of nations such as Somalia, the Atlantic Monthly’s Robert D. Kaplan referred to the “citizens” of such “states” as “re-primitivized man.”

“When lifelong Torontonians are hot for decapitation, when Yorkshiremen born and bred and into fish ‘n’ chips and cricket and lousy English pop music self-detonate on the London Tube, it would seem that the phenomenon of “re-primitivized man” has been successfully exported around the planet. It’s reverse globalization: The pathologies of the remotest backwaters now have franchise outlets in every Western city.”

It is possible to see a connection here. While Multiculturalism is spreading ideological tribalism in our universities, it is spreading physical tribalism in our major cities. Since all cultures are equal, there is no need to preserve Western civilization, nor to uphold our laws.

It is true that we may never fully reach the ideal of objective truth, since we are all more or less limited in our understanding by our personal experiences and our prejudice. However, this does not mean that we should abandon the ideal. That’s what has happened during the past decades. Our colleges aren’t even trying to seek truth; they have decided that there is no such thing as “truth” in the first place, just different opinions and cultures, all equally valid. Except Western culture, which is inherently evil and should be broken down and “deconstructed.” Western Universities have moved from the Age of Reason to the Age of Deconstruction.

While Chinese, Indian, Korean and other Asian Universities are graduating millions of motivated engineers and scientists every year, Western Universities have been reduced to little hippie factories, teaching about the wickedness of the West and the blessings of barbarism. This represents a serious challenge to the long-term economic competitiveness of Western nations. That’s bad, but it is the least of our worries. Far worse than failing to compete with non-Muslim Asians is failing to identify the threat from Islamic nations who want to subdue us and wipe out our entire civilization. That is a failure we quite simply cannot live with. And we probably won’t, unless we manage to deal with it.

 

UW instructor who blames U.S. for 9/11 teaches first class

COLIN FLY

Associated Press

A part-time instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison taught the first class of his course on Islam Tuesday after drawing intense scrutiny for his belief the U.S. government orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks.

Days before the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Kevin Barrett touched only briefly on them but told students the subject would be covered in discussions in early November during his twice-a-week course, "Islam: Religion and Culture."

Barrett, castigated by some legislators after his views were publicized over the summer, used self-deprecating humor as he began the class, describing himself as an Irish Muslim and introducing the fall-semester course to the 200 students as "Conspiracy Theories 370."

About a dozen reporters attended the class in the William H. Sewell Social Studies Building. Photographers were not allowed in.

UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell had warned Barrett in a letter uncovered last month to stop associating himself with the university while he advocates his views.

The letter came 10 days after Farrell defended Barrett's right to free speech and retained him as a part-time instructor despite calls for his firing.

The decision drew a backlash against UW-Madison, with 61 state lawmakers denouncing the move and at least one county board cutting its funding for the UW-Extension by $8,247 - the amount Barrett will earn for the course - in a symbolic protest.

Farrell reviewed plans for the course after Barrett appeared on a talk radio show and said he planned to teach students his views that the U.S. government carried out the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to spark war in the Middle East.

The provost concluded Barrett, who is active in a group of scholars who share his belief, could present his view during the class, as long as students were allowed to challenge it.

During the first 75-minute class, students seemed attentive and responsive.

Zac Hirschman, 19, a sophomore, said he signed up for the class because he wants a career involving Middle Eastern politics, and he only learned about Barrett's stance on Sept. 11 when he searched the Internet a couple weeks ago.

"Last year in Israel, I roomed with Muslims," he said. "I'm interested to see how he makes the distinction between Arabic and Muslim and see what he has to say. He seems to be an interesting guy with an interesting perspective."

Megan Gill, 21, a senior, said she purposely sought out Barrett's class.

"I think there's too much of, 'You have to be sensitive to everyone,' but I think it's going to be very beneficial to hear a controversial, one-sided argument and his reasons why," she said.

Since the dispute erupted, Barrett has appeared on national television shows and given dozens of interviews to discuss his theories. At times he has been erroneously described as a professor rather than a part-time instructor.

Farrell scolded Barrett for identifying himself as a UW-Madison instructor in e-mails in which he challenged others to debate his theories.

"I don't think he was really telling me to stop doing the sorts of things I was doing before this whole thing exploded," Barrett told reporters after teaching Tuesday's class.

He said he would be in New York City on Monday, appearing at a church with other guest lecturers on the Sept. 11 anniversary.

"I would love to teach a class on Sept. 11, but I haven't been hired to do that," he said. "So I'll go talk about Sept. 11 in New York on Sept. 11 and come back here on Sept. 12 and talk about Islam."

In the syllabus for the course, he wrote that when people loudly proclaim there is only one correct interpretation, they are sometimes labeled fundamentalists.

On the other hand, "people whose job is to try out many different interpretations of many different texts in many different fields and develop a sophisticated, complex, nuanced way of seeing the world are sometimes called college students."

 

SEX AND THE SUICIDE BOMBER

November 27, 2006

James Lewis


Pierre Rehov's new movie,
Suicide Killers: Paradise is Hell features in-depth interviews with young would-be suicide bombers.  Rehov is a French Jew who grew up in Algeria and knows Muslim culture in depth. His film sums up the "terrifying serenity" of the teenage suiciders, who have found their personal solution to "sexual frustration plus a constant sense of shame and humiliation." That is certainly consistent with what we know about Mohammed Atta, the leader of the Twin Towers suicide bombers, who spent the night before his mass murder at a girlie show. In his will Atta insisted that no woman should be allowed to touch his body after death. He is iconic of overwhelming attraction to women combined with deep revulsion.

Muslim orthodoxy is sexually repressive, rigorously separating boys and girls before and after puberty, until men gain enough power in the clan to select a sexual partner. At the same time the Koran glorifies sexual delights. In the patriarchal desert tribes of Arabia, powerful men had multiple wives, and powerless ones were deprived and humiliated. Raiding other peoples was a way to obtain sexual slaves, one that was considered glorious. Islamist radicalism is a throwback to that ancient tribal culture.

In a shame culture, public "face" is everything. Humiliations are rehearsed from generation to generation, in much the way that Balkan Christians still teach their children about the humiliations inflicted upon them by the Ottoman Empire. Vengeance is held out as the solution. The suicide-bomber is at the extreme end of socio-sexual shame and humiliation, achieving vengeance and resolution by his death in one final act. This is how the "heavenly wind" of kamikaze fighters went to their deaths in WWII Japan.

Western culture has lost much of its sense of shame about sexuality in the last half century. Yet it is hard to see that the West has solved
Civilization and its Discontents, as Freud called it. We have traded one set of discontents against another. Our abortion and divorce rates, our proportion of children growing up without fathers, are nothing to boast about.

Muslims are constantly reminded by the media and the web of how the West has managed to tear the veil from sexuality, both publicizing and trivializing sex and shame. Islamism can be seen as a mass revulsion from the strip tease industry of movies and ads. But of course the supermarket of sexual hyper-stimulation only makes things worse for those who are shut in. The West glorifies the orgiastic life and incites envy, and from envy to hatred is only a small step.

Mohammed himself used his power to marry and enslave multiple women, creating a kind of enviable model for the Islamic imagination. Yet there are times when he worried about his sexual potency. He, too, internalized the whiplash of ambivalence between attraction and repulsion, desire and shame. 

Will the Western cult of free sex soften Islamic culture? Or will the shame culture of Islam carry out its revenge on the West? Suicide-bombings like 9/11 are only the visible headlines. Underneath, in literally billions of human minds, a witches' cauldron is brewing between sexuality, shame, envy and vengeance, all amplified by the media, by the imams and their demagogic sermons, and by opportunistic politicians. 

That turbulent cauldron will end up shaping the future. Toss nuclear weapons into the mix, and human civilization itself is at grave risk.

 

Hassan Butt Tells Bob Simon Killing In The Name Of Islam Is A "Cancer"

CBS News

March 25, 2007

 (CBS) British police this week arrested three British Muslims in connection with the 2005 bombings on the London subway system in which 52 people were killed.

The world was shocked when the four suicide bombers blew themselves up that morning, especially when it turned out that they were British citizens. The four had been recruited to what is called the "Network," a web of radical Islamic organizations loosely affiliated to al Qaeda which has turned Britain into the western world’s richest breeding grounds for terrorists. How did this happen?

60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon met someone who knows. And for the first time he spoke about what it was like to be inside that network for ten years. His name is Hassan Butt. He’s only 26 years old, but some of the people he recruited were a lot younger than that.


Hassan Butt admits he sent a 17-year-old boy from England to Pakistan to be involved in terrorist training.

Butt was only 16 when he was recruited by the network. Like thousands of other young British Muslims, he became exposed to some of the most radical Imams in Britain – Imams who supported attacks on westerners all over the world and believed that they had a tacit agreement with the British authorities.

They could preach hatred, they could recruit followers, they could raise funds, and they could even call for Jihad – Holy war – as long as they didn’t call for attacks on British soil. London became such a safe haven for Muslim militants that it came to be known as "Londonistan."

"Do you think this was an unspoken deal with the establishment? That, do whatever you want here as long as you don't blow us up?" Simon asks Butt.

"Absolutely. I believe that sincerely," Butt tells Simon. "That was an unspoken deal. And as a result of that, what tended to happen is the British government lost count of how many people were going abroad getting trained and coming back and going into operational mode as sleeper cells."

If there was such a deal, it was shattered in July 2005, when the four suicide bombers blew themselves up on the London subway; three of the terrorists were born in Britain of Pakistani parents.

"The four men who blew themselves up all came from good families, good homes, good educations. How do you explain what they did?" Simon asks.

"I mean, for me, they did it simply because they were convinced that they were doing something in the name of God, in the name of Islam. And they honestly believed they would obtain paradise from doing the activities that they carried out, the terrorist attacks that they carried out," Butt explains.

Ringleader Mohammad Siddique Kahn made a video of his last will. Hassan Butt had met him but insists they never discussed specific operations. Khan told him he first became attracted to radical Islam because the tradition he grew up with was forcing him into an arranged marriage. The radical Imams were offering him a way out.

"A lot of guys I know, actually, have become radicalized, or initially took the first steps towards learning more about Islam and their way of life as a result of them being tried to being forced to marry someone they don't want to marry," Butt tells Simon.

And Butt says the radical preachers are in favor of men marrying whomever they went, as long as their wives are practicing Muslims.

"So this is a very effective and an important proselytizing technique?" Simon asks.

"Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely," Butt says.

But that’s just the start of the recruiting process – it’s bringing them into the tent. Hassan Butt would follow up with young men in his gym in Manchester, England, and in neighborhood pool halls. He says he personally recruited between 50 and 75 people to receive training in Pakistan; thousands more were being recruited elsewhere in Britain.

"We’d talk about the suffering of the Muslims all over the world," Butt tells Simon. "We were very well-versed in the Koran, in the verses of the Koran, in the sayings of the Prophet and show that how it was permissible for people to go around killing innocent men, women and children."

"You would explain to them why it's permissible to kill innocent men, women and children?" Simon asks.

"Well, a better way to put it is, we would take away the innocence from the person so they were no longer innocent men, women and children," Butt explains.

"So, men, women and children would become non-innocents?" Simon asks.

"Become non-innocent and hence, combatants and allowed to be targeted," Butt says.

Asked at what point he would say to a recruit it was time to head to Pakistan, Butt tells Simon, "Never. I would never say that, ever. It's not me forcing them. I mean, the network never, never pushes people in that way. We believe that if the person is convinced, has the conviction themself to come up to you and say they wanna go training, then they are the type of person who will most likely take that one step further and will be the reliable foot soldiers for you."

And a reliable foot soldier is all Hassan Butt wanted to be when he decided to move to Pakistan at age 20. Behind the scenes he was helping young British Muslims get to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban.

British Muslims had flocked to Pakistan for military training. But as the Taliban retreated, many of them wanted to take the fight back home.

In 2002, Butt warned BBC Radio in an interview from Pakistan that British Muslims fighting in Afghanistan would return home and take military action within Britain and that he was in favor of this.

Asked if, at the time, he really believed that British Muslims would attack their own country, Butt says, "Yeah. Absolutely. These were people that I was meeting and these were people who decided to return back to Britain to become, you know, sleeper cells."

"Sleeper cells that stayed asleep for a little while?" Simon asks.

"Yeah," says Butt.

Butt told Simon that he began associating with militants who had been involved in terrorist attacks in Pakistan in which people had lost their lives. So when he was tipped off that the Pakistani authorities were about to arrest him, he flew back to Britain where he was arrested, questioned for five days and released without charge.

He became one of the network’s star fundraisers. Over the next couple of years, he says he raised $300,000.

His biggest contributors? "Doctors. People who were businessmen. Professional people basically who wanted to donate substantial amounts of money," Butt tells Simon.

Butt says he openly told them he was raising funds for Jihad.

And he says he didn’t just solicit from the professional classes: he also targeted criminals, drug dealers who were told that their activities would be cleansed for a percentage of their earnings.

What kind of percentage?

"Twenty percent," says Butt.

The drug dealers were told the 20 percent would legitimize them in Islamic eyes and that the rest of their income was, in Butt's words, "purified."

"As long as the drugs weren't being sold to other Muslims. They were being sold to non-Muslims. In fact, we saw it as a tactic of war to keep, you know, one of the people that I sat with said, 'Well, let's keep poisoning the non-Muslim community in the West. Let's feed their addiction,'" Butt adds.

This was a tactic Butt discussed with the drug dealers and he says it made them feel better for the work they were doing.

How did the funds get from the U.K. to Pakistan? Butt tells Simon they used the Hawala system.

Asked to explain how the trust-based system works, Butt explains, "We'd contact someone here, we'd give them the money. They'd make a phone call to Pakistan, saying this amount of money is being deposited with us. Someone by this name, by this name and this age will come and collect this amount of money from you in Pakistan. They, obviously, would take a fee, which would pay, no paperwork. No trail."

There is no paper trail and Butt says it always works.

Butt says affiliates of al Qaeda received the funds, and used them for terrorist activities. He adds he did not know the specific operations that were funded by the money.

Why is he revealing all this? Because, he told Simon, the London bombings changed him. He began asking questions of his handlers, theological questions. He wanted to know whether the bombings could ever be justified in Islam. He waited and waited for answers. Months later, he was summoned by his handlers to a meeting in the Middle East. But he wasn’t given answers, only new orders.

"They were trying to force me into Iraq to fight basically," Butt says.

"So, to summarize, you're asking, basically, why should we be killing innocent people?" Simon asks.

"That's correct," Butt replies.

"And the answer you eventually received is go to Iraq and perhaps carry out a suicide mission?" Simon asks.

"Go to Iraq to basically – the actual word that they used was that I needed 'reprogramming.' And Iraq would give me the opportunity to basically be reprogrammed for what I needed I mean. I was quite shocked at the analogy," Butt says. "To think that will, firstly, I'm neither a computer nor a robot. And I don't know on your say so, I do on God's say so. And if you can't justify to me or prove to me that this is what God wants, then I'm gonna have to go my separate ways."

Asked if he was frightened, Butt tells Simon, "Shocked more than frightened. But, yes, it definitely, I was intimidated at that point."

Butt says it was after that meeting that he began answering his questions, himself.

"What I've come to realize is that killing for the sake of killing, and killing in the name of Islam for the sake of killing, is completely and utterly prohibited. And there's a big disease, a big problem and a cancer in the Muslim world. And it's a very dangerous cancer, and it needs to be dealt with," he says.

How? "And I really believe, if Muslims can pluck up their courage to ask questions, regardless of the consequences, then I do see that there is still hope, you know, to solve, to cure this cancer," Butt says.

Hassan Butt made his about face public last January at Cambridge University, at the debating union. For the first time he revealed that he had left the network and announced his strategy to confront radical Muslims.

"The position of moderate Muslims is that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. Do you buy that?" Simon asks.

"No, absolutely not. By completely being in denial about it's like an alcoholic basically. Unless an alcoholic acknowledges that he has a problem with alcohol, he's never gonna be able to go forward," Butt argues. "And as long as we, as Muslims, do not acknowledge that there is a violent streak in Islam, unless we acknowledge that, then we are gonna always lose the battle to the militants, by being in complete denial about it."

Butt’s private life is a shambles right now. His family has called him a traitor to Islam and his former friends from the network have threatened his life. He’s writing a book about his transformation and his challenge to Muslims.

He says he wants to make right what he calls the bad work he did before – bad work that may have included more direct involvement in terrorism than fund raising and recruitment.

Asked if he considered the work he used to do bad, Butt says, "Yeah, absolutely, not just bad work. I mean, bad is an understatement. It's evil, wicked work."

What's the most evil, wicked thing he did?

"It's not something that I want to talk about on camera," he tells Simon.

Asked if he loses sleep over his past deeds, Hassan says, "Yeah."

How does he atone for them?

"Well, hopefully, by the work that I intend to now start," Butt says. "Whatever it costs, I'm willing to make sure I see this through to the end."


Hassan Butt may have left the Network, but if he did hear about the planning of any terrorist operations, he told us, he would inform the authorities. Barring that, he has no plans to turn in his former colleagues to the police. That, he says, would jeopardize his efforts to prevent young Muslims from being radicalized.

 

U.S. intensifies search for traitor

June 2, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 2 (UPI) -- U.S. officials say they are ramping up efforts to track down a top al-Qaida lieutenant from Orange County, Calif., who has been charged with treason.

Known as Azzam the American, Adam Gadahn is the first U.S. citizen since World War II to be charged with treason, and the State Department has initiated a publicity campaign in Afghanistan offering a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture, ABC reported Monday.

The network said Gadahn, a former heavy metal music fan who converted to Islam as a teenager, is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan and serving as a top aide to Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida's second-in-command to Osama bin Laden. U.S. officials say Gadahn is one of the terror network's top propagandists and frequently appears in videos issuing threats to America.

Radio advertisements publicizing the big reward have begun airing in the country and printed materials including matchbooks and posters are being readied for distribution throughout Afghanistan in hopes of generating leads as to Gadahn's whereabouts, ABC reported.

 

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