Archive for Ex-Terrorist

Walid Shoebat: “Ex-Terrorist” Fraud Stealing Taxpayer Money

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2011 by loonwatch

Walid Shoebat is well known as a fraud. CNN recently exposed him in a two part series for masquerading as a “terror expert.” The truth is that Shoebat is just one of many so called “terror expert professionals” who are banking big time on your dime when in fact they are impostors, no better then two-bit snake-oil salesmen.

Now there is a website documenting the fraud Shoebat is perpetrating: www.walid-shoebat.com.(hat tip: Rick) Please follow the site, favorite it and share with your networks.

‘Ex-Terrorist’ Fraud: Walid Shoebat Exposed Part 2

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2011 by loonwatch

The expose on the fraud known as Shoebat continues on CNN:

Robert Spencer, watch out you’re next.

‘Ex-terrorist’ Rakes in Homeland Security Bucks

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on July 18, 2011 by loonwatch

Last night CNN had a “special investigation” on the fraud that is known as Walid Shoebat. It took them years to realize that he was a fraud, even after they had him on as a “terrorist expert” in the past. We wrote about Shoebat two years ago in a piece titled, Three Stooges Coming to a Campus Near You, and Walid Shoebat:”Kill them and their Children”.

CNN provided some disturbing video of Shoebat defrauding security personnel and first responders and wasting tax payer money with his lies. Hopefully it won’t be long until Robert Spencer and the rest who get paid to hate-monger to the DHS are exposed by mainstream media.
Watch Part 2 of Drew Griffin’s special investigative report about Walid Shoebat Thursday on AC360° beginning at 10pm E.T.

From Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston, CNN Special Investigations Unit

Rapid City, South Dakota (CNN) — Walid Shoebat had a blunt message for the roughly 300 South Dakota police officers and sheriff’s deputies who gathered to hear him warn about the dangers of Islamic radicalism.

Terrorism and Islam are inseparable, he tells them. All U.S. mosques should be under scrutiny.

“All Islamic organizations in America should be the No. 1 enemy. All of them,” he says.

It’s a message Shoebat is selling based on his own background as a Palestinian-American convert to conservative Christianity. Born in the West Bank, the son of an American mother, he says he was a Palestinian Liberation Organization terrorist in his youth who helped firebomb an Israeli bank in Bethlehem and spent time in an Israeli jail.

That billing helps him land speaking engagements like a May event in Rapid City — a forum put on by the state Office of Homeland Security, which paid Shoebat $5,000 for the appearance. He’s a darling on the church and university lecture circuit, with his speeches, books and video sales bringing in $500,000-plus in 2009, according to tax records.

“Being an ex-terrorist myself is to understand the mindset of a terrorist,” Shoebat told CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

But CNN reporters in the United States, Israel and the Palestinianterritories found no evidence that would support that biography. Neither Shoebat nor his business partner provided any proof of Shoebat’s involvement in terrorism, despite repeated requests.

Back in his hometown of Beit Sahour, outside Bethlehem, relatives say they can’t understand how Shoebat could turn so roundly on his family and his faith.

“I have never heard anything about Walid being a mujahedeen or a terrorist,” said Daood Shoebat, who says he is Walid Shoebat’s fourth cousin. “He claims this for his own personal reasons.”

CNN’s Jerusalem bureau went to great lengths trying to verify Shoebat’s story. The Tel Aviv headquarters of Bank Leumi had no record of a firebombing at its now-demolished Bethlehem branch. Israeli police had no record of the bombing, and the prison where Shoebat says he was held “for a few weeks” for inciting anti-Israel demonstrations says it has no record of him being incarcerated there either.

Shoebat says he was never charged because he was a U.S. citizen.

“I was born by an American mother,” he said. “The other conspirators in the act ended up in jail. I ended up released.”

He said his own family has vouched for his prison time. But relatives CNN spoke to described him as a “regular kid” who left home at 18, eventually becoming a computer programmer in the United States.

Shoebat, now in his 50s, says he converted to Christianity in 1993 and began spreading the word about the dangers of Islam. He has been interviewed as a terrorism expert on several television programs, including a handful of appearances on CNN and its sister network, HLN, in 2006 and 2007.

Since al Qaeda’s 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, expertise on terrorism has been in high demand. The federal Department of Homeland Security has spent nearly $40 million on counterterrorism training since 2006. The department doesn’t keep track of how much goes to speakers, nor does it advise officials on the speakers hired by states and municipalities.

Shoebat spoke at a 2010 conference in South Dakota and was so well-received that he was invited back for the May event in Rapid City, according to state officials. He warned the police and first responders gathered in the hotel conference rooms that the Lebanese Shiite Muslim militia Hezbollah had operatives working in Mexico and that drug cartels were raising money with Islamic groups. He also asserted that federal agents could have prevented the 9/11 attacks by looking for a chafed spot, called “zabibah,” that sometimes forms on the foreheads of devout Muslims.

“You need ex-terrorists who can tell you what life is like and what thinking is like of potential terrorists,” Shoebat said. “But had we looked at the zabibah only, we would have deflected a suicide action of killing 3,000 Americans.”

But Shoebat also told the group there were 17 hijackers when there were 19. And perhaps more surprising from a man who bills himself as a terror expert, Shoebat said the Transportation Security Administration could have stopped them. The TSA wasn’t created until after the 9-11 attacks.

Jim Carpenter, South Dakota’s homeland security director, said Shoebat brought “a point of view that certainly is not mainstream.”

“He brings in commentary about living and being raised as a Muslim and converting over to Christianity — gives them a different aspect of breaking the mold, so to speak,” Carpenter said. But he said Shoebat’s appearance was “a small portion” of the two-and-a-half-day conference.

“It’s not like we’re talking about setting up training and a discipline we would follow, that this is the only way and that’s the particular point of view of a Muslim or somebody of the Islamic faith. That’s not the case,” Carpenter said. “That’s his point of view.”

Carpenter said there is “no fear of threat” from Islamic terrorism in South Dakota, where the last census reports showed the state’s Muslim community made up less than one-half of 1 percent of the population. According to Rapid City’s local newspaper, about two dozen Muslims live in the city.

During Shoebat’s presentation, he criticized Muslim organizations and told audience members to be leery of Muslim doctors, engineers, students and mosques.

“Now, we aren’t saying every single mosque is potential terrorist headquarters. But if you look at certain reports by the Hudson report, 80 percent of mosques they found pamphlets and education on jihad. So they’re in the mosque, the mosque in accordance to the Muslim brotherhood is the command post and center.”

The conservative Hudson Institute said it never issued such a report and has no idea why its name was invoked.

Shoebat warned that making special accommodations for Muslim beliefs was a step toward establishing Islamic religious law. And he recounted how he wore a T-shirt that read “Profile me” on a trip to the airport and approached the screeners at the security checkpoint.

“I got tapped down, I got checked, I got all these different things,” he said. “I say it’s wonderful.”

Shoebat and business partner Keith Davies run several foundations and three websites that are all linked. Shoebat said the major group, the Forum for Middle East Understanding, includes his own Walid Shoebat Foundation.

In tax records filed by Davies, the Forum for Middle East Understanding reported 2009 earnings from speaking engagements, videos and book sales of more than $560,000. The documents are thin on specifics, and so is Shoebat.

“Basically, we are in information, and we do speaking and we do also helping Christians that are being persecuted in countries like Pakistan, and we help Christians that are suffering all throughout the Middle East,” he said. Asked how they do that, he said, “None of your business” — adding that disclosing details could endanger people he was trying to help in Islamic countries that have laws against blasphemy.

Shoebat’s name doesn’t appear on any of the paperwork. As for his own salary, he said he makes “probably what a gas station makes or a garage makes.”

“Everybody thinks I’m just raking in the dough, which is absolutely incorrect,” he said. He referred details to Davies, who offered to provide a copy of the group’s tax returns — but didn’t. When asked who served on the foundation’s board of advisers, Davies gave “Anderson Cooper 360″ the name of a former pilot, who didn’t return phone calls. But he could not name the high-ranking military officers he said were on the board.

Federal officials say they don’t know exactly how much money has gone to speakers like Shoebat. But in April, the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee raised concerns about “vitriolic diatribes” being delivered by “self-appointed counterterrorism experts” at similar seminars.

Sen. Susan Collins, the committee’s Republican chairwoman, and Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman asked the department to account for how much federal grant money went to state and local counterterrorism programs and what standards guided those grants. The request followed reports by the liberal Political Research Associates and the Washington Monthly that raised similar questions.

The Homeland Security Department told CNN that it has standards — and if training programs don’t meet them, “corrective action will be taken.”

“We have not and will not tolerate training programs — or any DHS-supported program — that rely on racial or ethnic profiling,” the agency said in a written statement.

Kamal Saleem: Fake “Ex-Terrorist” Wants Sharia’ Banned in Missouri

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2011 by loonwatch
Kamal Saleem looks scared

The last time we visited the “Grand Wazir” Kamal Saleem it was for our “Three Stooges” piece about the profound loonieness of the “ex-terrorist” racket which consists of a bunch of middle aged men whose only claim to fame is that they speak Arabic. Their personal bios are all uncorroborated and in many instances have been shown to be outright false, filled with logical inconsistencies, blatantly based in Evangelical polemics, horrendously racist, hysterical and genocidal.

Now a days Kamal is trying to pass himself off as an expert to the Missouri legislature, unfortunately in the following piece “St.Louis Today” takes Saleem’s story at face value without questioning it or corroborating it,

Former terrorist urges legislators to ban Sharia law in courts

(STL.Today)

A former terrorist, Kalam Saleem, phoned in to a House committee today, urging legislators to ban Sharia law in state courts.

Saleem was formerly associated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and later with Saddam Hussein, according to the biography he offered by phone to members of the House Judiciary Committee.

During the call, he offered support for a bill sponsored by Rep. Don Wells, R-Cabool, which proposes changing the state constitution to block courts from making decisions based on foreign laws – specifically Sharia law, the religious code of Islam.

Saleem, who now practices Christianity, said that Sharia law should not be allowed in state courts because it is restrictive and oppressive, and that it discriminates against women and homosexuals.

Wells took a similar stance, if a less subtle one: That Islamic law is a dangerous influence on secular judicial proceedings.

“This is to protect the people of America,” Wells said of his bill.

He went on to compare Sharia law to a disease, like polio. Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City, stopped him to confirm.

“Sharia law is like polio?” Kander asked.

“Absolutely, as far as I’m concerned in this country,” Wells responded.

Kander, who spent time in Afghanistan gathering intelligence for the military, said he found that “offensive.”

Wells’ bill is one of two measures currently under consideration by the Judiciary Committee that would ban foreign laws in Missouri courts.

The reality about Kamal Saleem is that he doesn’t know much about Islam and most likely is involved in fraud, as we wrote then,

Kamal Saleem claim’s to be the descendant of someone called the “The Grand Wazir of Islam,” which  Hedges points out is ”a title and a position that do not exist in the Arab world.” It can be further noted that the religion of Islam has no clerical hierarchy similar to the Catholic Church with defined positions such as the Pope, Bishops, Priests, etc. Kamal’s blooper in his bio is either a result of an ignorance of Islam and its structure or an attempt to manipulate the ignorance of his audience.

I can see Kamal’s claim to fame running out soon, kinda like the disgraced pastor Ergun Caner. A website by the name http://www.muslimwatch.com, a project of CAIR-Michigan has more analysis on Kamal’s story and why it doesn’t add up (hat tip: Daveed):

Saleem claims to be from a Lebanese Sunni Muslim family, which is a descendant of the “Grand Wazir of Islam,” and that he was a terrorist with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).Furthermore, Saleem states that his terrorism affiliation with the PLO inspired by Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood ended after receiving the “Holy Ghost” and accepting Jesus Christ (Peace Be Upon Him) in his life. Saleem’s story like his other wannabe “ex-terrorist” comrades, however, just does not add up.

For starters as author Chris Hedges points out, there is no such title as the “Grand Wazir of Islam.”Saleem’s “Grand Wazir” lineage claim is also bizarre due to the fact that the adjective “grand” would not be used in front of the term wazir (advisor) to begin with. Even the title “Grand Wazir” was not bestowed upon Aaron (Peace Be Upon Him), who was a prophet and the wazir of Moses (Peace Be Upon Him) according to the Qur’an!

It’s also very interesting that Saleem claims to have been a terrorist inspired by Islam as a member of the secular, Marxist influenced PLO, whose long time executive committee member and long time spokeswoman, Hanan Ashrawi, was a Christian. Saleem wants us to believe that Ashrawi, George Habash and the countless others from Christian backgrounds in the secular PLO were also inspired by Islam as he claims was his “terrorist” motive in dealing with the pesky problem of illegal Israeli occupation.

Furthermore the Muslim Brotherhood, who Saleem claims he had dual affiliation with, was averse to the secular, Marxist leaning PLO during the time that he claimed to have been a member. In fact, it is also well known that the Muslim Brotherhood inspired Hamas was supported by Israel to be an “Islamist” counter to the secular PLO/Fatah. To this day, Hamas and the PLO have been at odds with each other to the point of killing each other in the streets of Palestine in recent years. Hence, Saleem’s claim of being an “Islamist” terrorist in the PLO while having felicity to the Muslim Brotherhood is utterly preposterous.

The reality is that Saleem has made a nice career for himself collecting honorariums, writing a book and getting exposure from the hyper-Islamophobic Aramaic Broadcasting Network (ABN) since the tragedy of 9/11. If he were indeed an “ex-terrorist,” I’m sure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would have deported him by now for fraud because people with terrorism ties cannot get entry visas much less obtain American citizenship. And the FBI does not simply let “ex-terrorists” walk the streets because they claim to have received the “Holy Ghost” without detaining them for questioning. Changing idelogies does not absolve persons under American law from terrorism ties that they admit to.

The unfortunate part about Saleem’s bogus career is not his snake oil peddling but that there are so many individuals who do not care about the truth and lack intellectual honest that provide him a platform.

Ergun Mehmet Caner: Another “ex-Terrorist” Exposed

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2010 by loonwatch

ergun-caner

If you ever wanted proof that the Christian right-wing is filled with opportunists and charlatans who will exploit the masses and smear others for their own diabolical ends look no further than Ergun “Mehmet” Caner. This guy jumped onto the bandwagon of anti-Muslim haters, created a powerful (and false) testimony about being an ex-terrorist and laughed all the way to the bank until all the lies caught up to him. (hat tip: iSherif)

Christian Right’s Favorite Muslim Convert Exposed as Jihadi Fraud

By Peter Montgomery

Ergun Caner’s rise to the top of conservative evangelical celebrity — and to the presidency of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell — was fueled by how aggressively he capitalized on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to portray himself as a personal example of the power of Jesus to save even someone raised as a jihadist, which he claimed to be.

There’s only one problem with that part of Caner’s story: it appears not to be true.

In 2001, Caner was pastoring a church in Colorado. After 9/11, he became a hot commodity on the speaking circuit as someone who knew about the evils of Islam firsthand. Before the shock waves from the terror attacks had died down, he was lacing his sermons with his own tale of having been raised in Turkey as the son of a religious leader and trained in a madrassa to wage jihad against Americans.

He said he’d learned about America from TV shows — “Dukes of Hazzard” in some tellings, “Dallas” or “Andy Griffith” in others. He talked about learning English after moving to Brooklyn as a teenager. His personal testimony was used to sell books and videotapes. In one 2001 sermon, “From Jihad to Jesus,” he said he didn’t know much about Christians the first 17 years of his life because “there’s not that many of them in Turkey.” One CD was until recently marketed this way: “Do you believe God can change the heart of a hardened terrorist? Former Muslim Ergun Caner, who came to America to be a terrorist, shares his testimony of how he came to know Jesus Christ.”

All that made for great post-9/11 storytelling. And it helped Caner and his brother, Emir, sell a lot of books. (In 2002 they published and promoted Unveiling Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs, one of many books bearing the Caner name.) In 2005, Caner was appointed to his current post as president of Liberty University Theological Seminary.

In recent months, a group of Muslim and Christian bloggers have made an airtight case against many of Caner’s fabrications using the kind of documentation — videos, podcasts, recorded sermons — the digital age makes possible.

The Life Stories of Ergun Mehmet Caner

Here’s the basic outline of Ergun Caner’s actual life story, as told in some of his books and public appearances and pieced together from public records in recent months by bloggers. Ergun Caner was born in 1966 in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Turkish father. His parents settled in Ohio a few years later and were divorced when Caner was 8. Caner lived with his mother and spent time and religious holidays with his father.

His parents tussled over the terms of the divorce settlement and the degree to which his Muslim father would control his religious upbringing. As a teenager, Caner became a Christian. His father disowned him after his conversion, but his brothers, mother and grandmother also eventually became Christians. Caner earned undergraduate and graduate degrees (some of which he misstated until a recent bio revision on Liberty’s Web site), and entered the ministry.

Before 2001, he seems to have gone by Ergun Michael Caner or E. Michael Caner — or Butch Caner, which is what he says his wife calls him. Ergun Michael Caner is the name on his concealed carry gun permit, issued in 2009 by the Commonwealth of Virginia. But after 2001, Caner’s middle name, Michael, was replaced with the exotic-to-American-ears “Mehmet” on the covers of his books.

Ergun Caner is unquestionably a polished and entertaining performer. He stands out among conservative evangelicals with defiant rhetoric designed to elicit “did he really say that?” titters and a frisson of naughtiness from his audience. Part of Caner’s performing persona is his own brand of shock humor, which often relies on racial, ethnic and sexist humor. Speaking to one largely white audience, Caner joked about worship in black churches, where he said they pass the plate 12 times, women wear hats the size of satellite dishes and men wear blue suits that match their shoes and a handkerchief that matches their car. One black Baptist preacher asked for an apology.

At a conference in Seattle a few years ago, Caner joked about the Mexican students at Liberty this way:

“The Mexican students and I get along real well. They’re my boys. I always joke with ‘em, I say ‘Man, if I ever adopt, I want to adopt a Mexican because I need work done on my roof. [laughter], and, and uh, I got a big lawn….

At an Ohio men’s conference in 2007, he got the audience whooping and shouting with this gem:

“Dr. Caner, do you believe in women behind the pulpit? My answer is well, yeah, of course, how are they going to vacuum back there unless they get behind it….[laughter]…..and that’s going to be in half of your pulpits next Sunday. FEEL FREE!!! I LOVE THAT LINE!! But you know one line like that shuts it all up, ’cause they’re not going to talk about it, and they’re not going to talk to you for a while, which is good, which is good.

Sin and Redemption

The human story of sin and redemption is a fundamental theme in Christianity. When stars of the conservative evangelical movement have succumbed to the lure of sexual temptation, they have often won forgiveness on the force of a public confession. It has worked for politicians as well as preachers. So why is Ergun Caner, under fire for lying about the life story that catapulted him to evangelical stardom, refusing to repent and passing up the chance to earn redemption? And why is Liberty University supporting his stonewalling?

Since ascending to the helm of Liberty’s theological seminary, Caner has tripled student enrollment, due in no small part to his celebrity. That’s given him a prominent platform from which to speak and publish. It’s also given him some powerful allies with a strong incentive to protect his reputation. Rather than admitting that Caner lied about his upbringing in ways that made his “from jihad to Jesus” story (not to be confused with a book by that title by Jerry Rassamni) more compelling and marketable, Caner and Liberty University have hunkered down, portraying Caner as the victim of persecution and lashing out at his critics. At the same time, they’ve been working to strip some incriminating material from the Internet.

That’s going to keep the story boiling in the Baptist — and Muslim –blogosphere. And some think it’s a disastrous course for Caner, for Liberty, and for the religion and movement they represent.

It was a 20-something Muslim blogger, Mohammed Khan, who started bringing attention to problems with Caner’s public “testimony.” Khan believes Caner is out to give Muslims a bad name, and his Web site, fakeexmuslims.com, has used YouTube commentaries of Caner on video to challenge Caner’s expertise on Islam and to question whether Caner was, as he insists, a “devout” Muslim. (As this story was being prepared, many of those were taken down at least temporarily by a copyright claim.)

But that question hasn’t generated nearly as much interest among Christian bloggers as the easily verifiable discrepancies in Caner’s personal story. It’s especially troubling, they say, because that story is tied to the story he tells about the power of the gospel, the story that fueled his rise to a position of authority.

Here’s how Oklahoma pastor and blogger Wade Burleson summarized it, disputing Caner’s claims:

The myth Dr. Caner has created about himself seems now to be unraveling. He never came to America “via Beirut and Cairo.” He has never been trained as a fundamentalist Muslim. He has never had been a jihadist. He has never debated top Muslim scholars, in Nebraska or anywhere else. It is impossible for any of us to understand why someone would fabricate or embellish his past, but there’s a great deal of money to be made selling books and DVDs about Islam in post 9/11. Who’s a better expert on the subject than a radical jihadist who has converted to faith in Jesus Christ, right?

Here’s how Tom Chantry, pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Milwaukee puts it:

Preachers are witnesses to the gospel of Christ, and like all witnesses, when they are compromised they weaken the case. Furthermore, no witness can do more damage to his own case than an expert witness….When a preacher allows himself to deceive in any way he invites the sinner to pounce upon his error and heap scorn upon the gospel. Embellishment from the pulpit is therefore a deadly error which may do inestimable damage to the immortal souls of our fellow men. What are we to think of any preacher who regularly and repeatedly tells stories which are not true and publishes facts which are not facts?

Baptist blogger Tom Rich recalls being in the pews at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, when Caner came to speak just six weeks after the 9/11 attacks. When he started reading about the Caner controversy recently, he went back and listened to that sermon, and it confirmed what he remembered: With people still reeling from the terror attacks, Caner portrayed himself as someone who had been trained to carry out that kind of attack on America. It made for a powerful testimony.

Now, Rich says, he believes Caner was simply being opportunistic:

Unbelievable. Standing in front of shell-shocked Christians after 9/11, and Caner betrays their confidence by lying about where he was raised, where he learned English, and when he came to America. That is deception. A man that is misusing the pulpit to purposely mislead people about who he is and where he is from has no business being in the pulpit.

But several of Caner’s most vocal critics have said they’re not trying to get him fired — they just want him to tell the truth and apologize to those he deceived. But Liberty University officials have apparently decided it’s more important to protect the Ergun Caner brand. Southern Baptists and Liberty University have invested a lot in Caner’s persona, and now, in the words of one blogger, he’s “too big to fail.”

Back in February, in an effort to brush the controversy aside, Caner put out a statement some of his defenders characterize as an admission or apology. Here’s a portion of what it said:

I have never intentionally misled anyone. I am sure I have made many mistakes in the pulpit in the past 20-plus years, and I am sure I will make some in the future. For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better.

This statement satisfied some people who want the controversy to go away, but it only inflamed others. Trying to pass off his false claims as mistakes feels to some critics like compounding the original lies with equally and embarrassingly transparent new ones. Caner has since pulled that statement from his Web site, but it’s still online at a Southern Baptist news site.

The Persecution of Ergun Caner

The current controversy about Caner’s “embellishments” is not the first one the pugnacious Caner has found himself in. He’s been part of sometimes heated debate over Calvinist theology within the Southern Baptist Convention. He’s a critic of one evangelical strategy for proselytizing to Muslims, and in February he called the president of the denomination’s International Mission Board a liar, for which he has since apologized. His word for fellow Baptists who might complain about Glenn Beck, a Mormon, being asked to speak at Liberty’s graduation? “Haters.”

Caner and his backers have energetically played the religious persecution card and attacked the motives and even faith of his critics. Caner wrote in a memo to Liberty faculty that “I never thought I would see the day when alleged ‘Christians’ join with Muslims to attack converts.” Both Khan and Baptist bloggers who continue to call for Caner to come clean have been barraged with hostile commentary.

Pastor Wade Burleson says that when one of his congregants, blogger Debbie Kaufman, first asked him about the Caner controversy, he told her he wasn’t interested. She poked around on her own and wrote a post asking questions about some of the discrepancies in Caner’s record. The response from Caner and his supporters was swift.

Burleson says he got an urgent call from someone insisting he get Kaufman to take down her post, which the caller said was putting Caner’s life and family in jeopardy. Startled, Burleson read the post and was astonished to discover that Kaufman was only asking questions about Caner’s truthfulness. He said as much in a comment on her blog. But the pressure intensified; Burleson says Caner even called Burleson’s father to put pressure on him.

Liberty University pulled Caner’s disputed bio, and put up a stripped-down version that reportedly was personally approved by the chancellor. Other incriminating or embarrassing materials have been pulled offline after Caner critics called attention to them. Focus on the Family, for example, broadcast Caner’s 2001 “From Jesus to Jihad” sermon on its April 26, 2010 program. In that sermon, Caner said he didn’t know much about Christians the first 17 years of his life because “there’s not that many of them in Turkey or in Sweden.” But that broadcast has since disappeared from the online Focus archives.

Liberty University was silent until last week, when Elmer Towns, dean of the school of religion, told Christianity Today the university’s board was satisfied that Caner has done nothing “theologically inappropriate.” Said Towns, “It’s not an ethical issue, it’s not a moral issue. We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage. The arguments of the bloggers would not stand up in court.” The Christianity Today headline framed the story as an attack on Caner: “Bloggers Target Seminary President.”

In response to the Christianity Today story, one of Caner’s critics wrote on his blog:

So Caner’s deception is not “ethical” or “moral.” If I were a lost person, this would be a huge step forward in my belief that Christianity itself is a lie, and Christian leaders are mostly hypocritical charlatans selling their spiritual elixirs, whose “ethical” and “moral” standards are much lower than the average non-Christian.

Some Baptist bloggers say Liberty is sending a message to its students that celebrity is more important than integrity. One of them, Oklahoma pastor Burleson, says he can no longer recommend Liberty to potential students.

‘Get out of our way’

Caner’s critics insist their goal is not his personal destruction. Several of the bloggers campaigning for truth-telling and apologies said they believe Caner is a powerful speaker and talented leader. They would support him keeping his job if only he would apologize. Tom Rich says that in one of Caner’s books, Why Churches Die, the besieged seminary president wrote that public sin requires public repentance. And what is more of a public sin, Rich asks, than standing in the pulpit at First Baptist Jacksonville and lying to thousands of people about having been trained to kill Americans the way the 9/11 hijackers did?

Asked why Caner and Liberty would refuse the path of public repentance in the face of such clear evidence, Burleson says he is “baffled,” and insists he is not Caner’s enemy. “He is my friend and my brother in Christ.” Burleson says he, like many others, is not above the temptation to embellish. He thinks that a public admission of wrongdoing and an apology would bring an end to the story. But the Liberty response — pretending it never happened, circling the wagon, making other people the problem — is “the height of dysfunction,” he says. And the longer such stonewalling persists, the worse it will be — for Caner and for Liberty.

It’s not clear how this will end. Some bloggers have circulated a draft resolution with the notion that they would bring it before the Southern Baptist Convention, but it’s extremely unlikely that convention officials would ever let it get to the floor. After the story broke out of the blogosphere last week into Christianity Today, the Associated Baptist Press did a more in-depth story. The increased attention to Caner’s well-documented deceptions may make it harder for Liberty University to make them go away.

Caner seems to hope his celebrity and his bluster will carry him through. His attitude toward his critics seems to mirror the attitude he expressed in his speech at last fall’s Values Voter Summit. He ended his talk with this message to Christians he said were not being outspoken enough on the issues of the day: “You need to preach, teach, and reach, or just shut up and get out of our way.”

NOTE: This article has been corrected. The quote from Elmer Towns, dean of Liberty University’s school of religion, contained an error in transcription in the original version.