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Fake Ex-Terrorist Fraudster Kamal Saleem: I Was a Terrorist…Seriously!

We’ve done several pieces on the fake ex-terrorist con that Kamal Saleem and his buddy Walid Shoebat have been pulling for years now. No matter how much evidence or facts are shown, gullible folks who so desperately want to believe Kamal’s story continue to fall for it and send him money:

I Was a Terrorist…Seriously!

by Tim Jones (MotherJones)

As Michigan state legislators considered a plan to curb illegal immigration last fall, they heard dramatic testimony from a man namedKamal Saleem. He warned the lawmakers that Islamic extremists were sneaking into the country with nefarious plans. “If we don’t pass this bill,” the fiftysomething Lebanese American told them, “we will be legalizing terrorism to be part of our culture.”

Saleem’s testimony was rooted in an extraordinary backstory: He purports to have spent half a decade recruiting Islamists in America—before finding Christ and laying down arms. “I came to the United States of America not to love you all,” he declared at a rally on the Capitol steps after the hearing. “I came to…destroy this country as a terrorist.”

Over the last five years, Saleem’s tale of terror and redemption has made him a minor celebrity among Christian conservatives. Part national-security wonk, part evangelist, he is one of a handful of self-described “ex-terrorists” who have emerged in the post-9/11 era to share their experiences. He has spoken in state capitols, at the Air Force Academy, and at colleges and churches around the country. He has been a guest on Pat Robertson’s 700 Cluband started his own nonprofit, Koome Ministries, of which he was the only full-time employee in 2009. Tax records show Saleem earned $48,000 from the ministry that year—and had a $39,000 expense account—while Koome took in nearly $100,000 in donations and grants.

According to his memoir, The Blood of Lambs, Saleem, who grew up in Lebanon, broke into the terror biz at the age of seven by running weapons—strapped onto sheep—for Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat (who kissed his forehead at a public ceremony, “his breath bearing tales of garlic and onion”). As a teenager, he helped run a terrorist camp in the Libyan desert at the behest of Moammar Qaddafi. He visited Iraq, where he rubbed shoulders with Saddam Hussein. In the late 1970s, he traveled to Afghanistan, working alongside the mujahideen and CIA spooks to beat back the Soviets. A Kansas City Star columnist skeptically dubbed him the “Forrest Gump of the Middle East.

Saleem claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has put a $25 million bounty on his head, and that there have been attempts to earn it: After a 2007 event in Chino Hills, California, he writes in his book, he returned to his Holiday Inn to find his room ransacked and a band of dangerous Middle Easterners on his trail. Saleem describes calling the police to alert them to an assassination attempt. Local law enforcement, however, has no record of any such incident.

That’s just one of many of Saleem’s tales that don’t stand up to scrutiny. (Through a spokeswoman, Saleem refused to comment for this story.) Doug Howard, a professor of Middle Eastern history at Michigan’s Calvin College, first encountered Saleem in 2007, when he was invited to speak at the school. Howard quickly became suspicious: For starters, Saleem claimed to be a descendant of the “Grand Wazir of Islam,” a position that doesn’t exist. Howard dug deeper and discovered that Saleem’s original name was Khodor Shami—and that for more than a decade before outing himself as a former terrorist he had worked for Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. (CBN declined to comment. Focus on the Family confirmed Saleem was an employee but would not comment further.)

A former friend also sheds light on Saleem’s past. Wally Winter, a nurse in Albuquerque, New Mexico, first met him when they both worked at a hospital in Abu Dhabi in 1979. Two years later, he got a phone call from Saleem; he’d come to the United States and needed help. Winter says he welcomed Saleem into his spare bedroom, opened a bank account for him, taught him how to drive, and helped get him a job at the hospital where he worked near Oklahoma City. When Winter moved to the city, Saleem came along. “He had no money,” Winter says. “I had to drive him wherever he was going.” The two were close; Winter would bring Saleem to his parents’ home on holidays.

Winter recalls his former roommate as a devout Muslim whose yarns often lapsed into wild exaggeration. “He could sell swampland in Louisiana,” Winter says. “I really do not believe the story about the terrorism. I totally believe that he would make up something like that to either make money or become well known.”

A cloud of doubt also hangs over Saleem’s frequent speaking partner, Walid Shoebat, another converted ex-terrorist who runs a ministry and whose books include Why I Left Jihadand Why We Want to Kill You. Shoebat has offered contradicting statements on whether he uses an assumed name. An Israeli bank he claims to have bombed in the 1970s has said it has no record of the incident; a spokesman for Shoebat says that’s probably because the attack “caused no injury and minor damage.”

Wouldn’t authorities have some interest in someone who claims to have been involved in some of the biggest Middle Eastern militant movements of the 1970s and ’80s? Saleem claims that local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have “reached out” to him to learn about “the Islamist mindset and tactics.” But Kathleen Wright, an FBI spokeswoman, says she has “no information that Kamal Saleem has spoken at an FBI-sponsored event.” She could not say definitively whether the bureau had ever been in contact with him. Winter, for his part, says he has never been questioned by authorities about his former roommate.

Ironically, this apparent lack of official scrutiny may be the strongest evidence against Saleem’s credibility. As Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, puts it, “The FBI or the Department of Homeland Security don’t let people who are terrorists into the country and not detain them just because they claim they got the Holy Ghost.”

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  • Solid Snake

    @Corey
    I think when people realize that he is a fraud they will move on to the nex ‘ex Muslim terrorist’ its ridiculous….It says something about the anti-Muslim movement when all they have to present are frauds and fascists like Ergun Caner (LMAO), Walid Shoebat, Hrisi Ali, Wafa Sultan, etc etc. If you listen to them they seem like they are carbon copies of each other, wild-eyed, always warning of impending attack.

    the Islamophobes and racists remind me of this guy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw3BQJLjyhA

  • Isa

    I want to start a punk band called “The Grand Wazir of Islam”, now.

  • corey

    @snake
    I find it so funny and sad at the same time that people take his story seriously in fact here are his conversion stories http://thefactsaboutislam.blogspot.com/2011/06/scandal-kamal-saleems-three-different.html, of course when people realize that people like him are frauds they say something along the lines of “well he is right about islam and terrorism” or something like in a quite pitiful attempt to justify there own predjudicial fears.

  • Abdul-Rahman

    That Kansas City newspaper calling this fraud Kamal Saleem the “Forrest Gump of the Middle East” is on point and hilarious lol! His fake story is not even anchored in any hint of reality, he often claims he was working with groups that were enemies or at least rivals of each other such as the more secular, nationalist PLO (of Yasser Arafat) and the Muslim Brotherhood (which includes the PLO rival Hamas as the Palestinian branch of the Ikhwan). Also Kamal Saleem has been known to claim his uncle or someone was what he terms the alleged “Grand Vizier of Islam” LOL of course no such position exists I’m assuming Kamal Saleem just wants to get ignorant people who think Islam might have some position similar to the Catholic Papacy; when it does not.

  • Solid Snake

    Whoa watch out guys, we’ve got the real Nathan Drake over here!

    This guys been to the four corners of the Earth! Joined organizations that would seemingly be in conflict with each other if they met AND got close to the leaders…so close he could have assassinated them!

    hmmm

    -Guy 1 makes youtube videos supporting extremist groups….arrested & detained for unknown lenght awaiting trial.

    -Guy 2 releases documents uncovering war crimes and corruption of politicians….arrested & detained, tortured,

    -Guy 3 ADMITS…PUBLICLY….ON NATIONAL TV AND PRINT…of joining different organizations that were/are still designated as enemies of the US. ADMITS he was an active member…..tours, money, fame, fans……

    To be honest, I dont blame him. Hes a money grubbing weasel. I blame the HUGE majority of dunces with IQ’s at single digits who believe this crap.

  • @Garibaldi

    People really need to do a better job questioning these two. All by itself, the fact that every objective observer has determined them to be frauds, means that no one should listen to either of them.

  • Daniel

    Humans are very susceptible to believing the claims of someone who affirms their world-view; we are more likely to be critical of those who challenge it. This is where these hucksters cash in, just as the so-called “ex-Satanists” did in the 80’s.

    What is truly needed is a rebirth of critical thinking skills, vetting people before giving them a platform to speak, and always be skeptical of wild claims, demanding a higher threshold of evidence than more mundane claims.

  • mindy1

    Seriously WHO LISTENS TO THESE FRAUDS please tell me!

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