These two are a match made in heaven – the anti-Muslim bigots in the West and the Muslim extremists in the East. The only problem is that the rest of humanity is stuck between the two of these loony (and dangerous) groups. They both feed each others hysteria, rhetoric and violence.
As many of our readers know, American actions overseas (two wars in the Muslim world along with unconditional support for Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestinian land) has led to increasing levels of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world. This is a direct and obvious repercussion of what the U.S. government decides to do through its foreign policy. But add now the increasing levels of anti-Muslim and anti-Islam activity occurring all over the United States and that is only adding to the problem. The anti-Muslim pundits and their followers claim to be fighting against terrorism and extremism, but all they are doing is putting the country they say they love in harms way.
By Jonathan Weisman
Islamic radicals are seizing on protests against a planned Islamic community center near Manhattan’s Ground Zero and anti-Muslim rhetoric elsewhere as a propaganda opportunity and are stepping up anti-U.S. chatter and threats on their websites.
One jihadist site vowed to conduct suicide bombings in Florida to avenge a threatened Koran burning, while others predicted an increase in terrorist recruits as a result of such actions.
“By Allah, the wars are heated and you Americans are the ones whoâ€¦enflamed it,” says one such posting. “By Allah you will be the first to taste its flames.”
White House homeland security adviser John Brennan told reporters Friday that he had seen no evidence that the debate over the proposed Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, other mosque protests or the planned Koran burning had affected U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
A White House official on Sunday stressed that Mr. Brennan was addressing the narrow question of whether the debates in the U.S. over Islam were having an impact on U.S. counterterrorism efforts, and that Mr. Brennan specifically declined to address whether those debates were energizing the jihadists.
A U.S. official on Sunday said the administration was taking the upswing in anti-U.S. chatter seriously. “Terrorists like al-Qaeda and its violent allies are motivated already to try to attack the United States, but when it comes to propaganda, extremists are pure opportunists. They’ll use whatever they can,” the official said.
Many opponents of the planned Muslim community center say they have no bias against Muslims but that putting the building so close to Ground Zero shows an insensitivity toward the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Controversy over the community center, which will contain a mosque and other facilities, has helped fan anti-Muslim rhetoric in the U.S. far from Lower Manhattan in recent weeks.
Jarret Brachman, director of Cronus Global, a security consulting firm, and author of the book Global Jihadism, said al Qaeda and other groups have long used imagery from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to recruit new members. But the U.S. position has been that those wars are not against Islam and that the U.S. has Muslim allies in the fight.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric in the U.S is different, since jihadists can use Americans’ words to make the case that the U.S. is indeed at war with Islam. The violent postings are not just on al Qaeda-linked websites but on prominent, mainstream Muslim chat forums, Mr. Brachman said.
“We are handing al Qaeda a propaganda coup, an absolute propaganda coup,” with the Islamic-center controversy, said Evan Kohlmann, an independent terrorism consultant at Flashpoint Partners who monitors jihadist websites.
Critics of the proposed Islamic center said their right to speak out shouldn’t be influenced by the possibility of jihadist threats. “We will never win a war when we are afraid to even name our enemies,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in an e-mail Sunday.
The most violent threats stem not from the debate over the Islamic center but more fringe issues, such as a declaration by Terry Jones, pastor at the Dove World Outreach Center, a mega-church in Gainesville, Fla., that Sept. 11 be an “International Burn a Koran Day.”
In an interview Sunday, Mr. Jones said he planned to go ahead with the Koran burning on the evening of Sept. 11, despite the local fire department denying a permit for the event. He said the jihadist threats only confirmed his views of Muslims.
“I can understand that they would be offended. I think their reactionsâ€”violence, threats, murders terrorist attacksâ€”that only reveals the true nature of Islam which needs to be revealed,” he said.
Threats have been posted on Jihadist web sites in response to such planned actions as Mr. Jones’s Koran burning. “Now, I wish to bomb myself in this church as revenge for the sake of Allah’s talk. And here I register my name here that I want to be an intended-martyr,” wrote a poster identifying himself as “Abu Dujanah.”