Walid Shoebat: ‘Ex-terrorist’ exposed as fraud

From the Jerusalem Post:

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?c=JPArticle&cid=1206632362598&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

When he was 16, says Walid Shoebat, he was recruited by a PLO operative by the name of Mahmoud al-Mughrabi to carry out an attack on a branch of Bank Leumi in Bethlehem.

At six in the evening he was supposed to detonate a bomb in the doorway of the bank. But when he saw a group of Arab children playing nearby, he says, his conscience was pricked and he threw the bomb onto the roof of the bank instead, where it exploded causing no fatalities.

This is the story that Shoebat, who converted from Islam to Christianity in 1993 and has lived in the United States since the late 1970s, has told on tours around the US and Europe since 9/11 opened the West’s public consciousness to the dangers of Islamic extremism.

Shoebat’s Web site says his is an assumed name, used to protect him from reprisal attacks by his former terror chiefs, whom he says have put a $10 million price on his head.

Shoebat is sometimes paid for his appearances, and he also solicits donations to a Walid Shoebat Foundation to help fund this work and to “fight for the Jewish people.”

The BBC, Fox News and CNN have all presented Shoebat as a terrorist turned peacemaker, interviewing him as someone uniquely capable of providing insight into the terrorist mindset.

Now he and two other former extremists are set to appear along with US Senator Joe Lieberman, Ambassador to the US Sallai Meridor and other notables at an annual “Christians United For Israel” conference in Washington in July.

The three “ex-terrorists” have appeared previously at Harvard and Columbia universities and, most recently, at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, in February, at a conference whose findings, the organizers said, would be circulated at the Pentagon and among members of Congress and other influential figures.

Last year, Shoebat spoke to the BattleCry Christian gathering in San Francisco, which drew a reported 22,000 evangelical teenagers to what the San Francisco Chronicle described as “a mix of pep rally, rock concert and church service.”

The paper described Shoebat as a self-proclaimed “former Islamic terrorist” who said that Islam was a “satanic cult” and who told the crowd how he eventually accepted Jesus into his heart.

However, Shoebat’s claim to have bombed Bank Leumi in Bethlehem is rejected by members of his family who still live in the area, and Bank Leumi says it has no record of such an attack ever taking place.

His relatives, members of the Shoebat family, are mystified by the notion of “Walid Shoebat” being an assumed name. And the Walid Shoebat Foundation’s working process is less than transparent, with Shoebat’s claim that it is registered as a charity in the state of Pennsylvania being denied by the Pennsylvania State Attorney’s Office. (MORE)

Paid Bigot`s Including Walid Shoebat Teaching Religious War At U.S. Air Force Academy

http://www.israelenews.com/view.asp?ID=1524

The U.S. Air Force Academy just can’t seem to get it right. Six major cheating scandals in four decades. Endemic sexual harassment against female cadets. Christian evangelical officers proselytizing non-Christian cadets. But in February 2008, on the occasion of their fiftieth annual assembly, the Academy brass outdid themselves.
They presented three discredited Islamophobes who spewed religious bigotry and advocated religious war, in the process trampling on the First Amendment and exposing the Air Force to international ridicule.
Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani all claim to be “reformed terrorists.” The three men’s narratives “border on the fantastic,” as a Feb. 7 New York Times story delicately put it, including their claims that they killed hundreds of people while still children. Even members of Shoebat’s own family apparently believe that his stories of terrorism are fabricated. Most experts have concluded that they are frauds.
“It’s like inviting O.J.Simpson impersonators to a conference on domestic violence,” Mikey Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told InFocus.
“They’re snake-oil salesmen, but unfortunately they’re not really funny, because they have the capacity to severely damage national security.” (The three men collected $13,000 for the Colorado Springs caper, according to The New York Times.)
However ludicrous their claims may be, the trio provided Academy brass with yet another opportunity to push the bigoted worldview of the Religious Right, this time under the guise of educating about terrorism. According to Shoebat, Saleem and Anani, the reason why they quit the terrorism racket was because — wait for it — they converted from Islam to Christianity! While supposedly an investigation of terrorism, the appearance of the men was yet another pretext for rightwing elements at the Air Force Academy to promote their noxious brand of Christian fundamentalism at a publicly-funded institution.
But the “X-Terrorists,” as they melodramatically fashion themselves, also promoted the idea that a Christian crusade against Islam is the will of God. “Islam is the devil,” Shoebat has said, along with many other defamations of Islam. If Air Force brass claims not to know of his bigotry — or that most experts believe the three men are frauds — they are criminally incompetent. If they did know but invited them anyway, they’re guilty of retailing hate speech and extremist ideology as reputable academic presentations.
Think about it. The cadet wing at the Academy represents the young Air Force officers of the future. Someday they’ll be in charge of nuclear weapons capable of killing millions. Do we really want our young officers being told that religious war is inevitable? Isn’t it a major crisis when hate-mongers have the political clout in the military to flaunt their murderous 14th century beliefs during a major event at the Air Force Academy, with no chance for Muslims or supporters of religious liberty to defend core American values?
I want young officers at our historic military institutions to hear all sides of every issue, so perhaps inviting clowns like Shoebat, Saleem and Anani could be interesting, if only to study the dynamics of fanaticism — if they weren’t proselytizing evangelical Christianity, and if their Islamophobic vitriol were balanced off by responsible Muslim speakers. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) offered to find Muslims in Colorado who could offer a balancing perspective and speak about ways that Christians and Muslims can support religious pluralism and work together to build better communities. The Academy’s response to this offer was a resounding silence.
Our young military officers desperately need more cultural literacy regarding the Muslim and Arabic-speaking worlds, if they are to properly represent America’s interests.
Instead, the Air Force Academy gives them bootleg evangelicalism and religious bigotry.
Both are unmistakable attacks on the U.S. Constitution that officers take an oath to defend. The deteriorating situation at the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs is a disgrace to all Americans and cries out for a Congressional investigation.
Addendum: Due to a national outcry against this mind-boggling attempt at political and religious indoctrination, the Air Force Academy has been compelled to allow three spokespersons with an opposing view to address cadets on April 9.
They are Joseph Wilson, former US ambassador and opponent of the Iraq War; Reza Aslan, a young scholar of Islam; and Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious
Freedom Foundation, himself an Academy graduate and a tireless opponent of forced religious indoctrination in the armed services.
By LAWRENCE SWAIM, In Focus.  Military Religious Freedom
Lawrence Swaim is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Freedom Foundation. He taught for eight years at Pacific Union College, and his academic specialties are American Studies and American literature. His column addresses current affairs from an American Christian and Interfaith perspective.

Bogus “ex-PLO terrorist” featured in LSJ

Another irony in regards to the Walid Shoebat narrative is that he claims he was fueled by religious teachings to destroy Israel while being a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), yet the PLO was not an Islamic group, but an Arab nationalist movement with Marxism leanings. 

The PLO’s former spokesperson during the Yasser Arafat era, Hanan Ashwari, is Christian.  She and many of PLO members, while it was considered to be a terrorist organization, weren’t born in Muslim families but Christians.  Why did they join the PLO and accept violence as a means of resistance?  Was it because of Christianity or occupation and oppression?

Violence against civilians by any group, Marxist, Islamic or Jewish, is never acceptable.  This fraud is promoting fear through a narrative of the Palestinians that is fallicious. 

***

http://www.lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080323/NEWS01/803230327/1001/news

Self-described ex-terrorist to lecture

Controversial group at MSU hosting talk by ex-PLO member

Kathleen Lavey
Lansing State Journal

Walid Shoebat grew up near Bethlehem, living what he calls “basically a very violent life.”

As a teenager affiliated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, he says he tossed a bomb onto the roof of a bank and, with friends, nearly lynched an Israeli soldier.

“The whole notion of destroying Israel was part of our goal,” said Shoebat, 47, who now lives in the United States, has converted from Islam to Christianity and tours the country offering his controversial take on Islam and terrorism.

He will visit Michigan State University on Tuesday.

Critics say Shoebat’s conversion to Christianity skews his view of Islam, that he paints the fundamental fringes of the religion as universal and that his stories about his past are questionable.

“Either he’s a fraud or he should be detained by the Justice Department if he really was involved with a supposed terrorism attack in Israel,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“He has no credibility among people who know Islam, the Muslim world and the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Mohammed Ayoob said of Shoebat.

Ayoob is a professor of international relations at MSU’s James Madison College and author of the new book, “The Many Faces of Political Islam” (University of Michigan Press, $22.95).

“He, and others of his ilk, pander to the basest Islamophobic instincts of a small group of people, some of whom are rich and powerful, and make a living out of doing so.”

Eric Thieleman is co-chair of MSU’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, which booked Shoebat’s talk with funding help from the Virginia-based Leadership Institute.

“We’re in very volatile times right now,” Thieleman said. “Terrorism is still an issue. It hasn’t gone away. It isn’t going to go away. We needed to be prepared for everything.”

He said Shoebat is entitled to express his opinions.

“I don’t buy that he’s preaching against Islam,” he said. “It has nothing to do with that.”

The MSU chapter of Young Americans for Freedom – classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – has brought other controversial speakers to MSU, including Minutemen co-founder Chris Simcox and British Nationalist Nick Griffin.

Shoebat, born to a Muslim father and an American mother, says he was imprisoned as a teen for his PLO activity, but was released because he had U.S. citizenship through his mother. He moved to Chicago to go to college.

“I remember the streets of Chicago, demonstrating and crying out as loud as I can, saying, ‘Who runs the Congress? Israel.’ ‘Who runs the media? Israel.’ “

He said he was recruited by a U.S. branch of Hamas. He was forced to break up with his girlfriend, not listen to music and live in seclusion.

“After a while I just couldn’t live that dungeon lifestyle,” he said.

He said the current terror problem is directly connected to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, and blames the West for helping build the confidence level of Islamists.

Shoebat says the only way to end terror is take away that confidence by crushing groups he calls “terror infrastructure,” including Hamas and Hezbollah. He compares today’s situation to the rise of Nazi Germany.

“For me to say, ‘We have a war,’ makes me an Islamophobe,” he said. “But the Naziphobes were right.”

Walid, of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said talks such as Shoebat’s distort the image of Islam.

“They seek to define the Muslim community not by its true productive, moderate core but by radical fringes,” he said.