Archive for Florida

Tom Trento Tries to Rally Shock Troops to Protest Local Muslim Conference

Posted in Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by loonwatch

Florida loon Tom Trento is perhaps only out shined in his lunacy by Joe “Nuke the Mooslims” Kaufman. (h/t: JH):

Tom Trento Tries to Rally Shock Troops to Protest Local Muslim Conference

by Jacob Hausner (Islamophobia Today)

That Tom Trento is a hate-filled propagandist is common knowledge by now. He is as much a ‘human rights’ activist as David Duke or any racist who relies on lies, half-truths and innuendo to plead his case.

Trento has for quite some time been active in agitating anti-Islam and anti-Muslim efforts in Florida. In 2008, in the run up to the election of President Barack Obama, Trento was busy peddling the hate-filled anti-Muslim movie, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War with the West.”

The website, Obsession for Hate, both catalogued and detailed the propagandistic efforts of the funders of “Obsession,” Aisha HaTorah and the Clarion Fund, to affect the outcome of the election. The not-so veiled strategy was to freely distribute 28 million DVD’s of Obsession in newspapers inside key electoral swing states, to fear-monger about the so-called pending Islamization of the USA. If anyone recalls the election of 2008, Barack Obama’s faith was a central talking point in which Republicans sought to take advantage, thinking they could sway voters by maligning the president as an evil, madrassa-indoctrinated, fifth-columnist “Muslim.”

“Obsession” failed, but that did not stop Trento.

It is 2012 now, and another election is around the corner, queue-in Trento and his fanatical band of doomsday, fear-mongering naysayers! Once again Islam and the Muslims are to be feared, and even more so, ironically because of the Arab Spring!

Trento produced the video below, calling on his compatriots to join him to protest an upcoming Islamic Society of North America conference in Florida:


Now, I would have been content to just post this article in response: ‘The United West’ Video: Is It From the Onion? No, This Lunacy is Real!, but on further consideration I don’t want to leave the Islamophobes with any excuses!

About the only thing that Trento got right in the above video is that, yes, Hasan Al-Banna did create the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928.

By now there is a plethora of well researched, academic and even lay literature on the “Muslim Brotherhood.” Just Google “Muslim Brotherhood” and you will come out with dozens of interesting titles.

One does not have to agree with or like the Muslim Brotherhood to, at the very least, concede that the Muslim Brotherhood never “joined” the Nazis in World War II. That is just a blatant lie!

So let’s look at the lies presented by Trento, one by one:

Trento Lie #1.) “Muslim Brotherhood joined the ‘Nazis’ during World War II.”

Truth: As Matthias Kuntzel noted in his book, “Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11″ (Telos Press, 2007),

‘it would be wrong to characterize the Muslim Brothers as ardent followers of the Nazis.’

Richard Wolin in an exchange with Jeffrey Herf (author of “Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World”) comments on this, saying,

Here there is simply no squaring the circle; too many aspects of Nazi ideology–its paganism, its Aryan racial doctrines, its conception of Germanic geopolitical supremacy–are incompatible with the key tenets of political Islam. As Küntzel rightly concludes, Hassan al-Banna was too devout a Muslim to latch on to someone as impious as Hitler as a political role model.

Trento Lie #2: “In 1981, that same Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Anwar Sadat.”

Truth: A quick read on Wikipedia could have easily disabused Trento of this embarrassing falsity. Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Khalid Islambouli and a group of renegade Egyptian military soldiers. Islambouli, in fact was not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood but instead of a group called the “Egyptian Islamic Jihad,”

After graduating from the Egyptian Military Academy with excellent grades, he was accepted as an officer in the Bombardment Forces of the Egyptian Army with the rank of Lieutenant. Sometime after this appointment, Islambouli joined the proscribed Egyptian Islamic Jihad movement.

Trento Lie #3: “In 2011, that same Muslim Brotherhood overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, for the express purpose, as the United West predicted, to establish the Islamic caliphate in Egypt.”

Truth: Trento seems to be living in the past when the internet and new media wasn’t readily available. As it turns out it wasn’t the “Muslim Brotherhood” that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, (who wasn’t really a “president” as Trento so reverently refers to him, but a “dictator”) they were actually late to the protest game, it was a mass popular movement of “Egyptians” that toppled Mubarak. To suggest otherwise is tantamount to spitting on the sacrifices of all those brave souls who were killed, injured and tortured by Mubarak-thugs. Most rational people realize this.

Trento Lie #4: “Obama…gave the Muslim Brotherhood 1.5 billion dollars”

Truth: Seriously? Do we have to even answer this one? In fact, the money was not given to the Muslim Brotherhood, but to Egypt, just as it has been for over thirty years ever since the Camp David accords, when President Jimmy Carter reached a peace deal between Egypt and Israel.

Trento Lie #5: “Now, in May, the Muslim Brotherhood is coming to Tampa Bay, Florida for the express purpose of continuing the ‘cultural jihad’ to turn the United States eventually into an Islamic State.”

Truth: Trento is referring to the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) “East Zone Conference.” ISNA happens to be one of the oldest and largest Muslim organizations in the United States, and perusing their website, ISNA.net, and looking at the program and topics of the conference, there was surprisingly NOT one lecture, seminar or group activity relating to “cultural jihad to turn the United States eventually into an Islamic State.”

If we were to find anything relatively close to what Trento is talking about I am sure it would have been on ISNA’s own website, right!? Alas, it does not exist, and much like Trento’s ludicrous video, this too is an outlandish, kooky lie, ginned up to try and rally anti-Islam bigots and shock troops to counter a peaceful Muslim conference.

Hopefully, Trento’s “protest” won’t devolve into the type of hate-filled “protests” we have come to know and expect from him and his friends:

American Team Wears Hijab to Support Captain

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on April 24, 2012 by loonwatch

Irum Khan

Irum Khan

American Team Wears Hijab to Support Captain

HOLLYWOOD – Cheering up their Muslim teammate, a Floridian high school football team decided to don hijab before their season finale game to show solidarity with their Muslim captain who has been taunted repeatedly over her religious outfit.“Everybody looked at us weird,” West Broward senior Marilyn Solorzano told Sun Sentinel website on Friday, April 20.“I understand now everything she went through and how hard it must have been.“We just wore it for one day, and we noticed the difference. It was hard to keep on. It kept falling and our heads got really hot. You have to give her [credit] for wearing it every day.”

Donning hijab in middle school, Irum Khan, 17-year-old captain of West Broward High flag football team, endured far more than the usual pre-teenage taunting.

Early during her first years of high school, some classmates called her a terrorist and cursed at her.

She had rocks thrown at her and was physically attacked more than once.

“I got a lot of weird looks when I started wearing the hijab,” said Khan, who first donned the modest clothing in fifth grade and wears long sleeves and tights under her uniform.

“Kids at that age don’t know a lot about it. I went through half the year in sixth grade and then I took it off.

“I couldn’t take the name-calling, the strange looks, the racial slurs. It was too much.”

Though she hid the abuse from her family and school officials, she finally spoke up as her parents encouraged her to talk with school administrators and things got better.

Though none of Khan’s team has ever faced this bullying, they decided to take a stand and get a small taste of how difficult life can sometimes be for one of their own.

The idea of wearing hijab was first mentioned by Khan when she jokingly said it would be interesting for the whole team to wear the traditional Muslim dress during a game.

Instead of laughing, Solorzano, a fellow captain, seized on the opportunity.

“Everyone thought it was a really cool idea to support her and her religion,” she said.

“It’s really important to us because Irum is the only one here that’s covered head to toe. We thought it’d be something nice.”

Solidarity

The idea to wear hijab by the whole team was praised by the team coach as showing solidarity that unites the players.

“We’ve been trying to stress that the team comes first. The team always comes first,” Matt Garris, the West Broward coach, told xx

“When they came to me, it made me feel good to see them taking the initiative there. They showed team unity.

“Here they were, displaying something we were trying to get to them. You don’t always see that,” he added.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

Committing to her Islamic outfit and favorite sport, Khan will be enrolling at FIU next fall, with plans of attending medical school and studying sports medicine.

“I had to show my family that I could balance work, school, sports, family time and my religion,” she said.

“It took a year to prove myself, but they support me all the way. They’ve let me pursue it and I love them for that.”

Feeling grateful to her teammates, Khan found the strength to continue being true to herself, her sport and her faith.

“There’s always light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

“You can’t give up.”

Debbie Caves to Islamophobes

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by loonwatch

Debbie needs to grow a spine and stop caving into bigots:

Debbie Caves to Islamophobes

by Zaid Jilani (Salon.com)

Liberals who admire the Democratic Party’s tradition of inclusiveness and civil rights should be troubled by what happened last week in Florida. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has served as the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee since last April, was until then scheduled to speak Saturday at the annual dinner event of the nonprofit group Empowering Motivating Educating Resourceful Grassroots Entities, or EMERGE USA.

EMERGE is a grass-roots group that works primarily with South Asians, Arab Americans and Muslim Americans to empower young people to take part in community service projects, local government and other forms of civic leadership. “Our broad goals are to incorporate minorities generally, Muslim or non-Muslim, into the political system,” EMERGE board member Imran Siddiqui says. Whether it’s running a get-out-the-vote drive or petitioning a city council to stop the construction of an industrial waste dump site next to a mosque, the group’s activities are little different than those of any other classic grass-roots American organization – the only difference being that a large portion of EMERGE’s members are from Muslim communities. Last year, former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., keynoted their event.

Yet Wasserman Schultz decided to abruptly pull out of speaking at EMERGE’s annual dinner last week. “We never agreed to do a fundraiser, nor an event,” claimed Wasserman Schultz spokesman Jonathan Beeton. Yet EMERGE had previously widely advertised Wasserman Schultz’s participation at the fundraising dinner without apparent complaint from the congresswoman’s staff. “We were interfacing with congresswoman Wasserman Schultz’s people for about a year to try to get something together,” said Siddiqui. “So when she agreed to the banquet, we were elated.” There’s a much more likely explanation for her abrupt refusal to attend the event than a simple miscommunication. For months, Islamophobic websites and a far-right congressional candidate waged a smear campaign against EMERGE, pressuring Wasserman Schultz to back out of the event. With her withdrawal, it appears that they won.

The smears can be traced back to an article in right-wing McCarthyist David Horowitz’s Front Page Magazine. In a February article, Joe Kaufman – who isvying in a Republican primary to challenge Wasserman Schultz for her seat in Congress – teamed up with Militant Islam Monitor’s Beila Rabinowitz to claim that EMERGE was part of a “nefarious agenda of placing Islamists into positions of American power and influence.”

Based on that absurd premise that the community service volunteers and voter registration gurus of EMERGE were out to install an Islamist government in the United States, the bulk of the article’s allegations focused on Khurrum Wahid,one of the group’s founders. Kaufman and Rabinowitz note that Wahid, a civil rights lawyer, represented individuals accused by the U.S. government of terrorism-related crimes. This line of attack was similar to one waged in 2010 against Department of Justice lawyers who represented detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The group Keep America Safe referred to these lawyers as the “Al Qaeda 7,” a charge so incendiary that even a former Bush official rebuked it, noting that “there is a long-standing and very honorable tradition of lawyers representing unpopular or even uncontroversial clients.”

But it’s not surprising that Kaufman would engage in such outlandish smears. They help distract from his own past of espousing extreme ideas and outlandish rhetoric. Shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he endorsed using nuclear weapons against the Muslim world to retaliate, writing, “If the decimation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the right thing to do, in response to Pearl Harbor, then why the heck are we saving our nuclear weapons now?” He was even skewered by “The Daily Show” for his crusade to stop a Muslim Republican from getting the acceptance of the Broward County GOP. (Kaufman was at the time ironically leading a group called Americans Against Hate).

So how did a fringe congressional candidate, whose greatest feats have been getting mocked by “The Daily Show” and speaking out against Muslim Family Day at Six Flags on Fox News, cow one of the most powerful Democrats in the country? Unfortunately, he had some help running the smear campaign against EMERGE. His attacks were uncritically picked up by local news bloggers before making their way into larger right-wing publications. The Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo sensationally wrote an article titled “Debbie’s Date With Radicalism,” playing a bizarre game of six degrees to claim that Wahid was associating himself with groups connected to the financing of al-Qaida because he once spoke at a conference of the mainstream Islamic Circle of North America. (Full disclosure: I attended one of its conferences as an elementary schooler, and so has one of Obama’s faith advisors, which may lead to claims that both Obama and I are secretly associated with al-Qaida.)

The article wondered aloud why a “proud Jewess” like Wasserman Schultz would appear with the Muslim-dominated EMERGE, clearly trying to stoke a racial and religious divide. It also quoted a “prominent Jewish Democrat,” who hid behind anomynity to claim that EMERGE’s leaders have a “soft spot for terrorism.” The Free Beacon topped off all of this reporting with a memo titled, “DNC BOSS TO RAISE MONEY FOR TERRORIST LAWYER.”

It’s easy to play this ridiculous guilt by association game with anyone, of course. Take the Washington Free Beacon, for example. It is run by Michael Goldfarb, a former McCain campaign flack who  is also a senior vice presidentat Orion Strategies, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm. Orion Strategies has had as one of its clients none other than George Soros’ Open Society Policy Center. Goldfarb has also worked for the Emergency Committee for Israel, which has a board member who said Palestinians should be thrown into the sea to be “food for sharks” and whose executive director called on the Israeli Defense Forces to use protesters as “target practice.” By their own logic, the Free Beacon is on the payroll of George Soros and has troubling associations with would-be genocidal anti-Arab activists.

The smear campaign against EMERGE should be more comical than respectable – it was led by hysterical Islamophobes and third-rate bloggers – and it would have been, if not for the fact that Wasserman Schultz appeared to give in to it. “Unless the Muslim community has somebody stand up to this,” reflects Siddiqui on the smear campaign, “this is just going to keep happening. And it needs to stop.”

Zaid Jilani is a Washington journalist. Follow him @zaidjilani.More Zaid Jilani

Anti-Muslim Hate Comes to Hillsborough County School Board Meeting

Posted in Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2012 by loonwatch

Parents, and Adults attend Hillsborough School Board Meeting

Parents, and Adults attend a Hillsborough School Board Meeting

Hillsboroughbilly County, Florida–

In November 2011, a Tampa, Fla., high school invited a Muslim lecturer, Hassan Shibly to speak about Islamic history and tradition to college level advanced placement students. When anti-Muslim extremists David Caton and Terry Kemple found out, they brought dozens of Islamophobes to spread lies, fear and hatred against Islam and Muslims at school board meetings (H/T: A. Lessirey):

David Caton was described in a Tampa Bay Times column as a “theo thug,” and a “Biblical bully” with a history of anti-Muslim activism:

Perhaps the best way to get your hands around this latest example of theo-thugs gone wild is to think of local sanctimonious mouth foamer David Caton as the North Korea of faux piety.

For whenever Caton feels he’s fallen off the publicity-hound radar and isn’t being paid enough attention, the vicar of vituperativeness feels compelled to engage in some really daffy behavior as if to reassure the world he’s just as loopy as ever.

Well, brother and sisters — he’s back! It was this man of fleece who just a few weeks ago managed to persuade Lowe’s, a Fortune 500 company, to drop its sponsorship of All-American Muslim on TLC.

Caton got his sackcloth in a wad because the series revealed Muslims in America are quite capable of living just as stultifyingly boring, law-abiding lives as Protestants, rather than spending their days assembling car bombs.

And Lowe’s fell for it, acquiescing to the Islamaphobic demands of a single illiterate hate-monger who should have about as much influence on the affairs of the day as the defense minister of Groucho Marx’s Freedonia.

Now, fresh off his Florida Family Association campaign to make Lowe’s look like corporate America’s answer to a cowering puppy that just piddled on the kitchen floor, Caton, the Ernst Blofeld of the Bible, has set his myopic sights on Kelly Miliziano, a history teacher at Steinbrenner High School, who committed the unpardonable, unforgiveable sin of (dare it be said) educating her students.

For several years Miliziano has invited speakers representing various faiths to meet with her classes. The idea here is to expose students to a range of ideas and beliefs, which in the end will serve to make them better informed, discerning, well-rounded, independent-thinking, educated members of society.

Miliziano obviously posed a threat to Caton’s recruitment efforts. After all, if these kids learn stuff, well, the next thing you know, they’ll figure out obtuse gasbags like Caton are full of hooey. And that’s bad for the bigotry business, which needs a steady stream of lemmings to keep the flames of malevolence burning.

Another Tampa Bay Times article described the school board meeting as one of “did-I-just-hear-that” intolerance. It went on to criticize Caton and Kemple, saying,

What’s not good is wrapping your hands around the eyes and ears of kids out of fear. What’s not good is assuming a local Muslim leader, a young lawyer raising a family here, comes not to educate but to indoctrinate and steal young minds — and that teachers are either in on it or too clueless to care.

Such rhetoric is unhelpful and it seems that students who actually participated in the class don’t think it was a big deal.

But for those who believe they are on a Crusade against Islam, such as Caton and Kemple the Muslim speaker’s presentation represents the apocalypse!

Updates on Anti-Sharia’ Legislation: South Dakota Signs, Florida Drops, New Jersey Withdraws

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on March 16, 2012 by loonwatch

South Dakota’s governor signs a law that says it targets “religious law” but which in fact was drafted to target Muslims:

South Dakota Governor Signs Unconstitutional Anti-Muslim Bill

By Ian Millhiser

Yesterday, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) signed an unconstitutional law that purports to target courts applying religious law, but which is almost certainly part of a broader push by Islamophobic advocates to fight the imaginary problem of courts substituting Islamic law for American law. The brief bill Daugaard signed provides simply that “[n]o court, administrative agency, or other governmental agency may enforce any provisions of any religious code.”

Although this bill does not specifically call out any particular religion for ill treatment, it violates the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution. As the Supreme Court explained in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah, “the protections of the Free Exercise Clause pertain if the law at issue discriminates against some or all religious beliefs or regulates or prohibits conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons.”

While it is uncommon for American courts to apply religious law, it is not unheard of. Private parties sometimes enter into contracts where they agree to resolve their disputes under something other than U.S. law, and individuals sometimes write wills devising their property according to the tenets of their faith. Under the bill Daugaard signed, however, courts will be allowed to enforce contracts requiring disputes to be resolved under French law or ancient Roman law or under the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons second edition rules, but they won’t be allowed to enforce contracts requiring disputes to be resolved under the requirements of someone’s religious beliefs. This is discrimination “against some or all religious beliefs,” and is therefore unconstitutional.

Some good news from New Jersey:

NJ Becomes Latest State To Drop Anti-Shariah Bill

by 

Among a series of setbacks for the McCarthyist-style anti-Shariah movement, New Jersey became the newest state to drop its ridiculous A-919 bill penned to prohibit the application of “foreign laws”.

Fabricating an imaginary threat of an impending Shariah law that would somehow take over each US state, leading Islamophobes met with initial success as they attempted to influence various lawmakers into considering such a bill for implementation.

As of late however, anti-Muslim hate tactics appear to be falling flat on their face as NJ becomes the latest state – after GA, FL & MN – to withdraw its so-called foreign law bill drafted to protect it from the non-existent Shariah threat.

New Jersey need not follow other states that have either passed or attempted to pass similar legislation that has the principal objective of demonizing the faith of millions of American Muslims,” said Dr. Aref Assaf, president of the American Arab Forum.

CAIR-NJ Chair Nadia Kahf had the following to add, “Rather than strengthening constitutional protections, these bills undoubtedly violate religious freedom and weaken the independence of our courts.”

We thank Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi for her decision in support of religious freedom and constitutional rights.”

And some surprising and even more good news from Flordia:

Anti-Shariah bill died when session ended

A critic of the unsuccessful Florida bill to ban Shariah law and other foreign legal codes says its failure to pass is evidence of turning public tides on such measures, though a sponsor is promising to try bringing it back.

Though the bill easily passed the House, it was never called for a vote by the full Senate before the Legislature closed its session, effectively killing the legislation for the year.

“I think we may be seeing the tide turn on this wave of anti-Shariah bills around the country,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which opposes such legislation.

A wave of anti-Shariah bills have been introduced in statehouses across the country. Several have stalled or failed, but dozens more await a verdict.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a foreign law measure Monday, the first victory among advocates for such laws this session.

Three other states — Louisiana, Arizona and Tennessee — previously approved legislation curtailing the use of foreign laws.

Florida’s bill made no mention of Shariah law or any other specific foreign system. It said the use of foreign law would be banned in state courtrooms when it violates rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and in certain domestic situations, such as divorces and child custody cases. It would not have applied to businesses.

Opponents called the law unnecessary and anti-Muslim. Muslim groups were joined by the Anti-Defamation League, a defender of Jewish causes, in their opposition.

“You might as well pass legislation to ban unicorns,” Hooper said. “If it wasn’t so destructive to interfaith relations, to our image around the world, to our commitment to religious and constitutional rights, it would be laughable.”

The most fervently outspoken supporters of such bills caution Shariah law could begin to spread outside of Muslim countries in a slow-speed Islamic takeover of the world. Others say not outlawing Shariah jeopardizes the rights of American women.

Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, who sponsored the Senate bill, said though “wild accusations” have been made about what the legislation would do, its purpose was to ensure only American laws are heard in Florida courtrooms.

“I expect to file the bill again next year if I’m fortunate enough to be blessed by the people of Florida with another term, and I expect it to pass next year,” Hays said.

Newt Gingrich’s Agenda-Setting Big Donor

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2012 by loonwatch
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who is the biggest patron of Newt Gingrich's presidential bid, giving a reported $10m to a Gingrich-supporting Super Pac. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who is the biggest patron of Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid, giving a reported $10m to a Gingrich-supporting Super Pac. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP

Newt Gingrich’s agenda-setting big donor

By donating $10m to the pro-Newt Gingrich Super Pac campaign, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, one of the richest men in the US, and his physician wife, Dr Miriam Adelson, have kept Gingrich in the Republican primary race, and given him the resources to win in South Carolina and, potentially, in Florida, without having to build a large donor base.

The power of corporate money in American politics is nothing new. But the rules set by the US supreme court in its Citizens United decision – that money is speech and corporations are people protected by the first amendment – have undone the limits set by Congress in the 1970s, allowing, in this case, one family to transform the Republican primary race.

Of course, like all private funding of politics, there is no way of knowing with certainty what the Adelsons expect to achieve with their money. And the mainstream US media has been coy about referring to the Adelsons’ political views. The New York Times story on the latest $5m donation to the Gingrich-supporting Super Pac merely described Sheldon Adelson as “a longtime Gingrich friend and a patron”.

This ignored the fact that the Adelsons use their wealth to fund rightwing groups in Israel and anti-Muslim campaigns within the US, causes that are also strongly supported by Gingrich. In Israel, Sheldon Adelson has been accused of using his newspaper Israel Hayom to promote support for his friend, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is also a political ally of Gingrich. In addition, Adelson is a financial backer of the One Jerusalem group, which opposes peace negotiations that would lead to parts of Jerusalem coming under Palestinian sovereignty. The couple’s Adelson Family Foundation donated $4.5m to the founding of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem, headed by Likud party former minister Natan Sharansky (pdf).

Adelson has also funded the leading pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac). Aipac is known for its strong and effective advocacy of Israel’s interests in Washington, but four years ago, Adelson reportedly complained to its director that it was too supportive of the Palestinians. He has called the two-state solution a“stepping stone for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people”He also reportedly supports the Clarion Fund, which produces scare-mongering films advancing the conspiracy theory that Muslims seek to impose sharia law in America.

Gingrich shares the same political agenda. On 9 December, in an interview with the Jewish Channel, Gingrich stated that the Palestinians are an “invented” people. Asked about the comments while in Israel,Adelson defended Gingrich. In an address to the Republican Jewish Committee last June, Gingrich called for the US to end negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and for the closure of UN camps that house 1.4 million Palestinian refugees. He has also said there is no reason for Israelis to slow down settlement activity and give up on “maximizing their bargaining position”. He has enthusiastically perpetuated the narrative that Obama has been a poor friend to Israel, despite Obama’s repeated statements and actions to the contrary.

Gingrich is “realistic” about the threat of Islamic fundamentalism,according to Adelson. He has endorsed the conspiracy theory that Muslim organisations are using a strategy of “stealth jihad” to infiltrate sharia law into US institutions. Speaking to the American Enterprise Institute in July 2010, Gingrich said: “I believe sharia is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” He favours a federal law to ban sharia from US courts and has said he would require American Muslims to make a loyalty declaration before serving in his administration. With his wife Callista, he produced and narrated a 2010 film on the threat of radical Islam, entitled America at Risk: The War With No Name. Bernard Lewis, who coined the phrase “clash of civilisations”, appears in the film, saying: “This war will go on until the entire world either embraces Islam or submits to Islamic rule.”

While Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have also declared their strong support for Israel, only Gingrich has embraced a vision of civilizational conflict between the west and Islam – a convenient narrative for the right in Israel, which fears growing international support for the human rights of Palestinians, and would prefer Americans to think of Israel as a bastion of western values threatened by Islamic barbarism.

The number of Americans holding this view is declining. One index of this shifting mood was the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman writing last December that the standing ovation Netanyahu received at Congress was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby”, implying that money rather than shared values underlies the special relationship.

Yet there remains a reluctance to fully discuss these issues for fear of fueling the old hate libels about Jewish money controlling world events. This is a real concern: antisemitism continues to be central to much far-right ideology in the US and Europe. Equally, though, we should not be discouraged from properly scrutinising the millions of dollars being spent to advance the career of a politician who promotes conspiracy theories about a Muslim takeover of America and is running for the presidential nomination while espousing a Greater Israel agenda.

The Daily Show, Nezar Hamze and the Skewering of Joe Kaufman

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2012 by loonwatch
Nezar Hamze
Nezar Hamze

Justin Elliot wrote a piece on Nezar Hamze’s attempt to join the Broward County Republicans not too long ago. The anti-Muslim response Hamze got from members of the Grand Old party received national attention at the time.

Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones was funny as usual and skewered Joe Kaufman in the video below. Kaufman was looking dolt-like as ever, unable to provide a definition of the word “against;” he also readily admitted that he used ‘guilt-by-association’ assumptions to label individuals such as Hamze ,and organizations such as CAIR, as “terrorists” or “terrorist supporters.”

The Elephant in the Room

Jason Jones heads to Florida to help a Muslim Republican gain the acceptance of the Brower County GOP. (05:21)

http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:video:thedailyshow.com:405258

The Daily Show
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook

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The video certainly deserves to be in the annals of our Kaufman-o-meter series, so we will consider this Kaufman-o-meter #6!

Who is Joe Kaufman?:

Joe Kaufman, has been on the Anti-Muslim scene for quite a while now and is dubbed by the far Right-Wing FrontPageMag as, you guessed it…another one of their ”Investigative Journalists.”  That he has been influenced by Meir Kahane and the Kahanist ideology is well documented, as is his love and angst for Kahane.

In the past he has been accused of contributing to the terrorist organization founded by Kahane known as JDL (Jewish Defense League) while others accuse Kaufman of at the very least holding views that parallel JDL positions.

Kaufman’s unsavory associations and views are quite real and they are only dangerous to America if you’re stupid enough to swallow his conspiracy theories but other than that he is simply a half-baked paranoid conspiracy theorist, some what along the lines of the “9/11 Truthers.”

In every nook and cranny there is a “Mooslim”…hiding and ready to get ya…so beware and be afraid. Be veryyyy afraid goes his story.

In this special LoonWatch series we will detail the exploits and punchlines that Krazy Kaufman throws out there and attempts to pass on as serious journalism, commentary and investigation.

BBC Asks: Is Anti-Muslim Politics on the Rise in Florida? Umm, Duh.

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , on December 19, 2011 by loonwatch
florida_mosque_protest
Protesters demand mosque be shut down

Is anti-Muslim politics on the rise in Florida?

Clashes between Muslim activists and Florida conservatives have turned the state into a stand-off. Why?

When hardware superstore Lowe’s pulled its advertising from the cable reality programme All-American Muslim, it did so at the behest of a small group called the Florida Family Association (FFA).

The FFA’s previous letter-writing campaigns have been targeted at shows with both gratuitous and non-traditional sexuality, like Behind Girls Gone Wild and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

All-American Muslim is the first show that FFA has targeted on the grounds that it obscured “the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values”. But it’s not the first time Florida has made national headlines for sentiments hostile towards Muslims.

Last spring, pastor Terry Jones caused worldwide outrage when he burned a Koran at his church in Gainesville, Florida. In September, Nezar Hamze, head of the Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was the first person refused admission to the Broward County Republican party executive committee.

And Congressman Allen West, who represents constituents in South Florida, was recorded by the liberal website ThinkProgress last August saying “Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion. It has not been a religion since 622 AD, and we need to have individuals that stand up and say that.”

‘Fear mongering’

The boycott by the FFA comes as distrust of Muslims is on the rise across the US. Statistics released by the FBI in November show that anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by about 50% in 2010.

A family from All-American Muslim stands outside of a house All-American Muslim was targeted by a small Florida organisation

After a long quiet period, says Mark Potok, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, crimes against Muslims started up again in 2010 with the May fire bombing of a mosque in Jacksonville, Florida.

The big spike in hate crimes across the US, he says, coincided with the summer controversy over plans to build an Islamic cultural centre near Ground Zero in New York City.

“There’s been a dramatic increase thanks to this completely ginned up controversy about the imposition of Sharia law,” says Mr Potok. “What we’re seeing is fearmongering on an absolutely massive scale.”

He is careful to point out that while speech against Muslims is not a hate crime, “words have consequences”.

That being said, his office has not observed a noticeable rise in anti-Islamic group activity in Florida.

Sense of urgency

However, the debate over Muslim ideology has become a political fulcrum in Florida, especially for Tea Party candidates. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Matthew Hendley, a reporter for the New Times, a weekly paper in Palm Beach and Broward county.

“Florida really is a hotbed for this kind of thing,” says Tim Murphy, a reporter for Mother Jones magazine who has covered the issue.

He notes several factors that make Florida unique: a history of well-organised political activism, large populations of both pro-Israeli Jewish residents and pro-Palestinian Muslim residents, and a few high-profile arrests of Muslims suspected of terrorist activity.

As reported in the Miami Herald, the FBI also investigated ties between the 9/11 hijackers and a Saudi family living in Sarasota, Florida.

To those concerned about Islamic extremism, says Mr Murphy, these arrests “give them a sense of urgency – ‘we need to act now.’”

In South Florida, political figures concerned with Muslim extremism and what they perceive as the spread of Sharia law are well-represented.

Joyce Kaufman, a south Florida radio host, frequently speaks out against Islam encroaching into classrooms and American culture, and her remarks are examples of the kind of extreme rhetoric now being heard.

At an event hosted by the anti-Islamic activist Pamela Geller, Ms Kaufman said that “almost every act of political murder” has been done in the name of Allah.

When a Tampa imam was arrested on suspicion of aiding the Pakistani Taliban, religious leaders held a protest, demanding the mosque be shut down.

Former Florida Representative Adam Hasner, who is now running for the US Senate, has been vocal in the fight against Sharia law and the threat of radical Islam. When he was speaker of the house in Florida, he invited the controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders to speak at a summit. During his speech, Mr Wilders said while there may be moderate Muslims, “there is no such thing as a moderate Islam”.

A new approach

To that end, those who fight “radical Islam” often see any expression of Islam as a threat, say Muslim activists.

“I’ve been in South Florida my whole life. It’s been on a steady rise for the last few years,” says Mr Hamze, the man who was excluded from the Broward County Republican party. “Since ’07 or ’08, there has been an increase in activity,” he says. “Now there are churches involved with this, politicians involved, radio stations involved.”

Though his views as a Muslim hew closely to Republican views on social issues, his affiliations with CAIR – which opponents say is an organisation with extremist ties – factored into his exclusion.

Allen West stands at a rally Florida Congressman Allen West has sparred with members of CAIR over the values of Islam

While Florida Republicans actively courted Muslim voters in 2000, the party has now found success rallying voters against the dangers of militant Islam.

But they maintain that fight against Muslim extremism is not the same thing as a fight against Muslims. Rick Wilson, an advisor for Mr Hasner, says that CAIR and other groups “shout down any critique of extremism as a critique of Islam”.

“Opposing Islamic radicalism and opposing Sharia Islam, these are things, as Adam has frequently said, that speak to our national security in the first and our national character in the second,” says Mr Walker.

All-American Muslims

A fear of Muslim extremism in the US is not solely a Florida phenomenon, after all. While the Florida Family Association initially pushed Lowe’s to drop their All-American Family advertising, the campaign has found support across the country.

And Florida is not defined by groups like FFA.

Hasan Shibly, the director of the Tampa chapter of CAIR, recently moved from New York to Florida. He says that he’s never known Islamaphobia to be so rampant, but believes that for the most part, those attitudes belong to a vocal but small minority.

“I really don’t think this rhetoric is reflective of Floridians as a whole.”

NFL Team is on the Verge of Sharia Compliance!

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2011 by loonwatch

After people heard that the owner and coach were replaced by a Pakastini-born Muslim and an African American, there was an uproar of Islamophobic and racist comments. If we want this country to prosper once again, we need to grow up, but when we allow comments like this to filter in, my hope diminishes:

“I wonder if Khan has any friends who are terrorists?,” asks forgotten man on www.FreeRepublic.com. “Rush Limbaugh was not allowed to buy into the Rams, but a Muslim from Pakistan can buy the Jaguars. Go figure.”

Fanning The Flames: New Jacksonville Jaguars Owner’s Muslim Faith Stirs Stupidity

[Jacksonville, FL] Last week, it was announced that the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team had been sold to super-successful Illinois businessman Shahid Khan. The deal was reported to be worth $760 million and includes a somewhat controversial first for the league.

Khan is a Pakistani-born Muslim, and will be the first of his faith to own a National Football League team. NFL team ownership is considered to be the ultimate trophy for American billionaires.

The sale is not 100% final, however, it still has to get approval from the league and the other owners, but Khan has had an ongoing relationship with the league for ten years so it seems a sure thing.

The Muslim-American community, which has been under attack since 9-11, no doubt sees Khan’s ownership as a sign that America is moving in the right direction, despite a vocal minority hell bent on demonizing all Muslims.

“He is the first … shows how American Muslims are integrating,” said Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American Islam Relations.

The Jacksonville Jaguars press release talking up the sale didn’t mention the fact that Khan was Muslim. That was probably a good thing – on the same day the sale was announced, it was also revealed that long-time head coach Jack Del Rio had been fired and assistant coach Mel Tucker – an African-American – would be taking over.

This year, the Jacksonville Jaguars have made a bigger impact in the news than on the field This year, the Jacksonville Jaguars have made a bigger impact in the news than on the field

For redneck racist types – and in North Florida there are more than a few – the fact that the white owner and white coach of their hometown NFL franchise were replaced by a Pakistani-born Muslim and a black guy was just too much to take, especially in ONE DAY.

This Jaguars ownership change could be the final straw that sends Confederate flag flyers fleeing pro football for the warm, white blanket of NASCAR.

Just last year, members of the Jacksonville City Council jumped on the Muslim hate train in what was described as a huge embarrassment for the region. Parvez Ahmed – a University of North Florida professor, Fulbright Scholar and Muslim – had his Human Rights Commission nomination sent back to the Rules Committee because of “constituent concerns.”

It had already been approved, mind you. But that was before the Islamophobes in the ACT! For America organization made a bunch of noise and the spineless jellyfish on the city council caved to their concerns.

Almost on cue, conservative news sites were rife with ugly comments about Khan’s big play.

“I wonder if Khan has any friends who are terrorists?,” asks forgotten man on www.FreeRepublic.com. “Rush Limbaugh was not allowed to buy into the Rams, but a Muslim from Pakistan can buy the Jaguars. Go figure.”

Forgotten man must have forgotten that Limbaugh has made multiple controversial racist remarks about black athletes over the years and that many players indicated that they would not play for Limbaugh’s team if he was even a part owner.

Khan just happens to have a religion in common with some people who have committed terrorist acts in the name of their god. The same could be said about any of the major religions.

When CNN ran the story, the comments sections was literally boiling over with stupidity, hate and a bit of Star Trek movie related humor (1982′s Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan features Captain Kirk famously yelling “KHAAANNNN!,” a familiar refrain in the comments section).

The awful stuff was counteracted by some progressive Jags/NFL fans protective of their city/league and of the new owner.

On CNN, Terri surmised, “That is how the Pakistani’s will get even with the United States. They plan to buy the NFL, one team at a time, and move it to Pakistan.”

Also on CNN, someone calling themselves Pakastani [sic] wrote, “The name of the new team will be the Jacksonville Jihadis. Expect the cheerleaders to show some ankle during games!”

DisgustedNY was concerned that, “Now you have some guy who grew up in Pakistan dictating what happens with an American tradition.”

But they weren’t all an embarrassment to America’s melting pot philosophy. JaxFan noted the political ramifications of Khan’s ownership, saying that, “The level of religious ignorance and intolerance represented in some of the city’s supposed leaders will make it absolutely hilarious to see those same anti-gay, anti-Muslim religious righties having to kiss the butt of a Muslim who now holds the keys to the Jaguars and their possible relocation.”

The Jacksonville community loves their team (and t-shirt cannons) The Jacksonville community loves their team (and t-shirt cannons)

“I think any comments challenging the prospective buyer’s ‘credentials’ as an American are immature,” offered Jeremy. “The guy has been here 40+ years, went to school for engineering here (actually did a degree that is USEFUL), worked for an American company, started his own American company (notice from the link posted above, that ALL the factories for his company are in the US?), and finally has had a dream of buying an NFL team.”

“America was founded based on principles of freedom of religion,” continued Jeremy. “I say let him take the team and see what he can do with it!”

Things were about the same on Yahoo! News … Mac offered: “A new way to launder money to the terrorists. Wonderful.” And from John: “Sold to Islamic Terrorist from Pakistan.”

Jake was downright racist in saying that, “schweet! sell them to a Sand Monkey.” And from Thomas: “I think he got the money to buy the team by tipping off where Bin Laden was hiding.”

DEF appeared to be a buoy of reason in a sea of hate and stupidity, analyzing that, “As a 20-year resident of Jacksonville, I can say that this is the most conservative bible belt town I have ever lived in. It has a huge redneck/conservative Christian base not to mention that many of them have their predisposed prejudices against Muslims.”

“This new owner … has a great opportunity to change Jacksonville for the better,” he said.

Although DEF cautions Khan – and he makes a good point in doing so that if Khan moves the team from Jacksonville (as has been widely speculated) that he, “could certainly see many in Jacksonville reacting by building a much deeper hatred for Muslims. … It could get ugly.”

I think you mean uglier.

By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate

Politicians are Politely Avoiding Tea Party Convention

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by loonwatch

Politicians are politely avoiding Tea Party Convention

by Scott Powers (Orlando Sentinel)

The Tea Party opens a long-planned convention tonight in Daytona Beach, expecting 1,200 delegates, dozens of speakers — but almost no big-name politicians.

None of the leading Republican presidential candidates and only two of the five U.S. Senate candidates agreed to speak at the three-day Florida Tea Party Convention at the Volusia County Ocean Center.

And top Republican officeholders who have previously courted Tea Party support — Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Allen West of Plantation — also sent their regrets.

Organizers said they still expect two presidential candidates: U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. But neither campaign would confirm they’re coming, and their campaign schedules don’t list the convention.

Sid VanLandingham, the convention’s communications director, blamed the busy campaign season, saying a regional event has a tough time competing for attention.

“The [politicians’] schedulers, they’re making last-minute decisions, hopping from place to place, and it’s changing constantly,” he said.

In fact, all of the politicians who responded to Sentinel inquiries cited scheduling conflicts, though the convention dates were set months ago. And their absence leaves many observers puzzled, considering how popular tea-party events have been among most Republican candidates.

Liberals say the depiction of tea partyers as “extremists” — especially on issues such as immigration — is prompting candidates to keep their distance.

“A lot of politicians are worried about being painted by that association, especially as we get into the real meat of the election cycle,” said Mark Ferrulo, executive director of the liberal, Tallahassee-based Progress Florida.

The convention has attracted more than 30 political and social conservatives — many from out of state — as speakers. Among them: John Michael Chambers, founder of the Save America Foundation; Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition; and Mathew Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel.

VanLandingham, whose home group is the South Lake 912 Tea Party of Clermont, said the big-name politicians might have been a draw, but they are not the point.

“It’s a grass-roots gathering of people from around the state to share what works, what doesn’t work, and to share projects,” he said, citing workshops on how to organize for the 2012 elections.

The only statewide candidates expected to come are Mike McCalister of Plant City and Craig Miller of Winter Park, both underdog candidates for U.S. Senate.

Those who expressly said they are not coming include GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman, and GOP Senate candidates Adam Hasner, George LeMieux and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack.

A whirlwind of controversy in the past two weeks could have played a role, after the convention invited anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller to speak and an American Muslim civil-rights group, the Council of American-Islamic Relations, protested.

“They [CAIR] put pressure, I think, on some of the state officials, and I think some of the state officials, in their judgments, they declined to go,” VanLandingham said. “Their [the officials’] reasons were ‘prior commitments.’ ”

Geller writes an anti-Islam blog called Atlas Shrugs and leads an organization called “Stop Islamization of America.” Last year, she received wide attention — and stoked bitter anger from American Muslim groups — with her harshly worded opposition to a proposed Muslim community center a few blocks from ground zero in New York City.

Last month, CAIR sent letters to Florida politicians urging them not to attend the convention if Geller was on the schedule. And when Rubio and Scott indicated they would not come, CAIR issued a news release thanking them.

Geller said CAIR tries to get her appearances canceled or boycotted wherever she goes. But she said she is certain her appearance in Daytona had nothing to do with all the declined invitations.

“The politicians decided not to participate before this controversy began,” she said in an email.

But CAIR is not so sure.

“In other states, elected officials have pulled out and do not want to be on the same stage as her,” said CAIR media-relations director Ahmed Rehab.

Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott Not Sharing Stage with Islamophobe Pamela Geller

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by loonwatch

“If you are an Islamophobe, and even Tea Party Politicians don’t want to hang out with you, you are in trouble.”

We live in the age of organized Islamophobia. Anti-Muslims coalesced after 9/11 and created, in effect, an industry that sought to influence public officials, government bodies and the masses across the United States and Europe. While the forces involved may come from different backgrounds in terms of ideology, faith and political persuasion they are united in their efforts to demonize Islam and Muslims.

Anti-Muslim Islamophobes have created a structure of Islamophobia that cuts across many levels. They hope that in people’s minds Islam will become the new Nazism and Communism combined or worse, because at least the former two enemies of humanity were “Western” and had some “rationality,” whereas Islam is the incomprehensible beast from the East.

Reza Aslan explains it well:

Simply put, Islam in the United States has become otherized. It has become a receptacle into which can be tossed all the angst and apprehension people feel about the faltering economy, about the new and unfamiliar political order, about the shifting cultural, racial, and religious landscapes that have fundamentally altered the world. Across Europe and North America, whatever is fearful, whatever is foreign, whatever is alien and unsafe is being tagged with the label ‘Islam.’ (No god but God)

Islamophobes work assiduously to push their agenda. They have boosted the profiles of (fake)ex-Muslims, (fake)scholars, and created a network of think tanks, foundations, “terror experts,” bloggers that have produced hate groups such as ACT! for America and SIOA amongst others.

Their activism is strong and they won’t stop anytime soon because that is what they get paid to do!

For some time American Muslims must have felt alone in fighting the scourge of bigotry and hatred that was aimed at them, however efforts such as ours here show that decent people from all walks of life can come together to fight the menace of fear-mongering and prejudice.

It is through the efforts of loonwatchers that we have agitated the SPLC and even the ADL to take firm stands against the Islamophobia movement. Loonwatchers were also instrumental in first booting Geller from the Hyatt Place in Sugarland, Texas and then evicting her crew from the Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee where they planned a “Sharia Conference” that was really more of a love-in for the vanguard of Islamophobia.

Now, according to several reports, another victory, both Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott, Republicans from Florida say they will not participate in a Tea Party Convention where they would have shared the stage with Pamela Geller and another Islamophobe:

Rubio and Scott are listed as “confirmed speakers” at the convention, but representatives of their respective offices told CAIR-FL that the event is not on the senator’s nor the governor’s official schedule.

Before we published our article asking loonwatchers to contact both Rubio and Scott the two were still confirmed speakers at the Tea Party Convention. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Rubio and Scott may end up showing up for the convention, they are after all Republicans, but if this stands it is another strong rebuke to Geller, Spencer and the rest of the anti-Muslim Islamophobia movement.

Daniel Tutt writes that Islamophobes have noted that there is push back against them, and they are none too happy about it, this is why it is an opportune moment to point out that we have to continue to hound the Islamophobes. An elected official should never share the same podium as a Pamela Geller, the FBI should never allow its employees to be instructed or lectured by a Robert Spencer, universities should never invite a Nonie Darwish to their campus to deliver speeches on “Islam,” or “Sharia.”

We shouldn’t rest on our laurels! Loonwatchers should capitalize on the momentum and actively campaign, using fliers, letters, phone calls, organizing protests and rallies where ever and when ever Islamophobes attempt to gain legitimacy. We will do our part by exposing them for the frauds they are and giving you the ammunition to shed light on their hatred.

Broward GOP Treats Muslims Worse Than Other Republicans

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by loonwatch

Allen West with Pamela “the loon” Geller

NPR exposes Allen West’s antagonistic attitude toward Islam and Muslims.

CAIR: Broward GOP Treats Muslims Worse Than Other Republicans

by Lisa Rab (Broward New Times)

U.S. Rep. Allen West has already tried to end federal funding for National Public Radio. But if he needed another reason to hate NPR, yesterday’s “All Things Considered” segment should do the the trick.
The story explored West’s view of Islam as a “totalitarian, theocratic, political ideology,” and his ongoing rhetorical battle with Nezar Hamze, the executive director of the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. No news there — the West/Hamze controversy has already been well-documented on the Pulp. But NPR took the story one step further, suggesting that Broward Republicans were more anti-Muslim than their GOP comrades in other states.

Last month, Hamze attempted to join the Broward Republican Executive Committee, and was soundly rejected by a “pit of discrimination.”

Yet committee chairman Richard DeNapoli told NPR:  ”I really don’t think this had anything to do with religion. It’s just that this was a widely known circumstance where he had made statements against Allen West, and the members reacted to that.”

Strike one. Broward Republicans will defend West to the end, even if it makes them look like bigots on national radio. But wait, there’s more!

“CAIR officials say they have good relations with other Republicans, but that in South Florida at least, the Republican Party and their Tea Party supporters have made Muslims feel unwelcome,”  NPR reporter Greg Allen said.

Ouch. This means South Florida — a predominantly Democratic area– is allegedly more prejudiced against Muslims than other Republican strongholds.

Congratulations, Broward. You are the new Strom Thurmond.

Florida pastor Terry Jones returning to Michigan to protest Islam

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2011 by loonwatch

Someone should tell pastor Terry Jones that all Arabs are not Muslims and all Muslims are not Arabs.

Florida pastor Terry Jones returning to Michigan to protest Islam

Terry Jones, the Quran-burning pastor from Florida, is to lead a three-hour rally against Islam today at Dearborn City Hall followed by a 2-mile walk to the Arab International Festival, where he will further speak out. The three-day festival is the largest outdoor gathering of Arab Americans in the U.S. and is held in Dearborn, known for its sizable Muslim population.

Jones, who led a rally at City Hall in April, gained worldwide attention for his threats to burn the Quran last year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He didn’t go through with it, but he led a Quran-burning in Florida in March. He tried to protest outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn in April, but a jury ruled he would likely breach the peace, thwarting his plans. Jones has appealed that decision, which was criticized by the ACLU and some constitutional law experts as an infringement of his free-speech rights.

Jones said the decision was an example of sharia, or Islamic law, coming to America, which he said is a growing threat. Today, Jones plans to speak out against sharia again as part of a five-point plan he said will help fight Islam. One point calls for the “monitoring of all mosques to assure that they are places of worship and not of Islamic propaganda.”

Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. has said repeatedly that the city has never implemented sharia.

In a letter sent this week to residents, O’Reilly said Jones and his supporters “are coming here to promote the concept that Islam is a false faith and that Muslims by teaching and nature are violent. We know that there is no substance to their message — their goal is to promote fear and hatred in others.”

Referring to Jones supporters, O’Reilly said he is urging the public to “ignore them and their empty words. Their goal is to bait and anger us so that they can then misrepresent who we are in order to serve their personal agenda.

“Debating them and confronting them at this event or in our city can produce no positive result for us.”

Contact Niraj Warikoo: 313-223-4792 or nwarikoo@freepress.com

Hasner: We are witnessing a ‘civilizational jihad’ in America, Florida

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2011 by loonwatch

The last we posted about Hasner he was sitting in rapt attention to a speech from Geert Wilders.

Hasner: We are witnessing a ‘civilizational jihad’ in America, Florida

(Florida Independent)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner appeared on a Sarasota conservative talk show today, echoing previous comments on the dangers of Sharia in the Sunshine State by saying there is a “civilizational jihad” underway across the country and in Florida. Audio after the jump.

Hasner made the comments on The Dr. Rich Swier Show, hosted by Red County blogger Richard Swier. “We are not in a War on Terror,” Hasner said. “This is a civilizational struggle against an ideology of Sharia Islam.”

“It’s not just a threat on foreign soil,” he continued. “It’s also a threat from those who seek to destroy us from within. And we have a problem of domestic terrorism both in the violent form as well as in the civilizational jihad that we’re witnessing here in our own country and our own state.”

Allen West Practicing Taqiyya?

Posted in Feature, Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2011 by loonwatch

We have done our fair share of coverage of the loony House representative from Florida, Allen West, but this guy is just amazing sometimes in the nonsense he spits out. West has made some seriously Islamophobic remarks in the past, arguing in point blank statements that Islam is not a religion, but an ideology:

“We already have a 5th column that is already infiltrating into our colleges, into our universities, into our high schools, into our religious aspect, our cultural aspect, our financial, our political systems in this country. And that enemy represents something called Islam and Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion. It has not been a religion since 622 AD, and we need to have individuals that stand up and say that.”

So said West back then, in the company of other right-wing loons, that “Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion.” It seems pretty clear to anyone with half a brain that he was not trying to say “radical Islam” is wrong, or that he is against “extremist” versions of Islam, or “Islamism” or anything else. He makes it very clear in that speech he is against Islam, period. He also makes it clear that he does not think Islam is a religion.

In early February 2011, West was contacted by religious leaders who became aware of West’s rhetoric against Rep. Keith Ellison, one of two Muslim Congressmen in the House of Representatives. West said that Ellison represented “the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established”:

Several religious leaders told South Florida Congressman Allen West on Wednesday they have “deep concern” over his recent comments about a Muslim colleague in Congress and about “your tendency to offer intemperate comments about Islam.”

In contrast to the blunt comments about Islam he made during the right-wing program mentioned above, West changed his tune:

“It is the extremist, radical element that has hijacked Islam that presents a dangerous threat to both our country and our allies throughout the world,” West said in a return letter. “This radical jihadist movement has no place in the United States of America or anywhere on earth.”

So now it was the “extremist, radical element” that had “hijacked Islam” that West was concerned about. I would like to offer a more cogent and intellectual analysis of West’s statements, but let’s be real here folks. It isn’t required. He is changing his tune because he does not want to appear to be the bigot that he clearly is. West was speaking from his heart to his like minded loons last year at that right-wing program where he said that “Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology.” But when respected religious leaders contacted him after his verbal attack on Rep. Ellison, West backtracked to save face. West, it could be argued, is practicing the definition of “taqiyya” that so many anti-Muslim loons claim that Muslims practice. West is hiding his true beliefs about Islam from civil society because he knows it can only serve to make him look like a bigot. Meanwhile, the Congressman ramps up the anti-Islam rhetoric once he’s in front of his fellow Muslim-bashing compatriots.

However, West’s true face was shown once again when he felt pushed into a corner about his views on Islam. On Monday, Feb. 21, West got into a heated exchange with the director of CAIR Florida, Nezar Hamze. Hamze had the audacity to question West’s knowledge about Islam. How dare he! It’s quite obvious that someone of West’s stature, being a Congressman and all, would have the requisite knowledge to speak about Islamic theology and history. I mean, don’t most U.S. Congressmen and Congresswomen know a whole lot about Islamic theology and history? Isn’t that why they are elected to Congress – because they know a lot about Islam?

Well, of course not. But, Hamze stood before the bigoted Congressman and asked West to point out where in the Qur’an it says to attack Americans or innocent people. This gave West the opportunity to show how prolific his knowledge of Islamic history was (and how big of a wise guy he is). West told the lowly Muslim that of course there’s no mention of attacking Americans in the Qur’an because America was not even around when the Qur’an was written.

Duh, you stupid Muslim!

West then made mention of certain battles in early Islamic history. LoonWatch is currently working on a lengthy response to West’s dubious claims, one that he and other Islamophobes constantly refer to in order to argue that Islam is violent. Stay tuned for that response – it will be posted soon. However, make no mistake that West’s alleged understanding of Islamic law and history is way off base, as is his understanding of the Muslim American community today.

In response to the question Hamze asked, West alleged that Maj. Nidal Hasan shouted “Allahu Akbar” when he killed those innocent people at Fort Hood and that the 9-11 hijackers also yelled “Allahu Akbar” when they flew planes into the Twin Towers, as if to show that these people represent Islam. Of course, West is attempting to link all Muslims to what Nidal Hasan and the 9-11 terrorists did through the use of common Islamic terms. Just because some extremists shouted out a religious term when committing acts of violence against innocent people does not mean that others who also use those religious terms share in the guilt of those atrocities or that Islam somehow would condone these actions because these murderers attempted to “Islamicize” these heinous actions. West is treading on a slippery slope. One that will make him fall on his face. Which brings us to his final statement at the town hall event that fateful evening.

Hamze told West that he was ashamed that West was attacking his religion, whereupon West burst out and yelled “You attacked us! You attacked us!”

Wow.

This is a United States Congressman? This is not only an absurd statement to make, because for one Hamze obviously had nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks, but two, West is essentially laying guilt for 9-11 on every single Muslim American. By saying “You attacked us,” West is telling us what he truly believes. That Muslim Americans, like Nezar Hamze, are co-conspirators in the 9-11 attacks. That Muslim Americans are guilty people (sounds like West is applying Robert Spencer’s definition of dhimmi on Muslim Americans).

And you know what that means. It means West’s followers will associate every Muslim living in America with terrorism and make them worthy of ridicule, contempt, distrust, and then eventually this type of thinking will lead to violence against innocent Muslims in America. You can already see the type of vitriol that is being practiced against Muslim Americans when viewing the anti-Muslim protestin Orange County, CA.

This is disgusting behavior on the part of a U.S. Congressman. West is not clever. He’s not smart. He doesn’t know squat about Islam or Islamic history. He’s the worst of what America has to offer. He is a disgrace to his constituents and a danger to law-abiding Muslim Americans who simply want to live a normal life in America. He is simply an un-American fake tough guy who loses his temper when questioned about things he knows nothing about. The fact that this jerk is a U.S. Congressman speaks volumes about the state of Islamophobia in America today. He’s also clearly practicing“taqiyya” by saying one thing to his right-wing constituents about Islam and then saying another thing to religious leadership in order to hide his bigoted views of Islam and Muslims. But never fear, Loon Watch is here – to expose loony frauds like Allen West and put them in their rightful place of shame.

 

Washington Monthly: How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2011 by loonwatch

How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam

(Washington Monthly)

By Meg Stalcup and Joshua Craze

On a bright January morning in 2010, at Broward College in Davie, Florida, about sixty police officers and other frontline law enforcement officials gathered in a lecture hall for a course on combating terrorism in the Sunshine State. Some in plain clothes, others in uniform, they drifted in clutching Styrofoam cups of coffee, greeting acquaintances from previous statewide training sessions. The instructor, Sam Kharoba, an olive-skinned man wearing rimless glasses and an ill-fitting white dress shirt, stood apart at the front of the hall reviewing PowerPoint slides on his laptop.

As he got under way, Kharoba described how, over the next three days, he would teach his audience the fundamentals of Islam. “We constantly hear statements,” Kharoba began, “that Islam is a religion of peace, and we constantly hear of jihadists who are trying to kill as many non-Muslims as they can.” Kharoba’s course would establish for his students that one of these narratives speaks to a deep truth about Islam, and the other is a calculated lie.

“How many terror attacks have there been since 9/11? Muslim terror attacks,” Kharoba asked the room. Silence. “Let’s start the bidding.”

“Over a hundred,” someone volunteered.

“I got a hundred,” Kharoba called back. Another audience member, louder now, suggested three hundred.

“Three hundred!” Kharoba declared.

“Over a thousand,” offered another voice in the audience.

Kharoba stopped the bidding. “Over thirteen thousand,” he said. “Over thirteen thousand attacks.” He paused to let the statistic sink in.

Kharoba belongs to a growing profession, one that is ballooning on the spigot of federal and state dollars set aside for counterterrorism efforts since the attacks of September 11, 2001. He is a counterterrorism instructor to America’s beat cops, one of several hundred working the law enforcement training circuit. Some are employed by large security contractors; others, like Kharoba, are independent operators.

Kharoba was born in Jordan, and he likes to intimate that members of his family are important tribal leaders. This lends a veneer of insider credibility to classroom remarks that might otherwise seem like off-color jokes. He showed the class some photographs taken in the Gaza Strip. “This is the Arab version of a line,” Kharoba told the students, gesturing to a photo of Palestinians rushing toward a passport agency. Then he showed a YouTube video of two uniformed men beating a nameless prisoner. “This is what Miranda rights are in the Arab world,” he said.

Fortunately for an adept American police officer, Kharoba said, jihadists telegraph their extremist intentions in altogether predictable ways. One only has to learn the signs. Take Mahmoud—Kharoba’s preferred name for a generic Muslim. Kharoba can tell whether Mahmoud is a Wahhabi (a member of a fundamentalist Islamic sect from Saudi Arabia) just by going through Mahmoud’s trash. There will be no pre-approved credit card offers, because interest is forbidden in Islam. There will be no brown wax fried-chicken bags, because fried chicken isn’t halal. For Kharoba, extremist Muslims are as easy to spot as American gang members.

“When you see a bunch of guys in red, what do you know?” Kharoba asked.

“They are Bloods,” responded the audience, many of whom deal with gangs regularly.

“When you have a Muslim that wears a headband, regardless of color or insignia, basically what that is telling you is ‘I am willing to be a martyr.’” There were other signs, too. “From the perspective of operational security, there are two things I am always looking out for: a shaved body and moving lips,” he explained. “Some of the Pakistani hijackers shaved their whole bodies in a ritual of cleanliness. If their lips are moving, these guys are praying. As they are walking through an airport, every second they’re going to be praying.”

America today is too politically correct to acknowledge the reality of Islamic fanaticism, Kharoba said. “Would Islam be tolerated if everyone knew its true message?” he asked the class. “From a Muslim perspective, do you want non-Muslims to know the truth about Islam?”

“No!” came the audience reply.

“So what do Muslims do?” Kharoba demanded.

“Lie!”

Kharoba strode forward to the front of the room, his voice slower now, more measured. “Islam is a highly violent radical religion that mandates that all of the earth must be Muslim.”

The class broke for lunch.

That afternoon, Kharoba offered more tips on how to detect violent Muslims. “You remember the Alligator Alley incident?” he asked.

He was referring to the events of September 13, 2002, when three Middle Eastern men at a Shoney’s restaurant in Calhoun, Georgia—one Jordanian, one Pakistani, and one Egyptian—were overheard talking about “bringing it down” to Miami. A nearby diner, one Eunice Stone, became alarmed and contacted the Georgia highway patrol. In what became a terrorist scare with national coverage, the police pulled the three men over on Alligator Alley, the long section of Interstate 75 that cuts west across Florida. For thirteen hours, the police combed the vehicle for explosives.

Kharoba projected a picture of Ayman Gheith, one of the arrested men, onto the screen. “The first thing is facial hair,” Kharoba said. “Do you see how the moustache is trimmed, and the beard is in a cone shape? It is very common to have this beard, and the moustache will always be the same, just like Muhammad.”

There is only one problem with the Alligator Alley case—a problem Kharoba never mentioned to the class. The incident was a false alarm. The “terrorists” turned out to be medical students on their way to a conference in Miami. They were innocent. After thirteen hours of interrogation, the police released them. Kharoba, however, taught the class that Ayman Gheith was a “textbook case” of Islamic fanaticism.

While his views are entirely his own, the fact that Kharoba is teaching this course at all reflects a sweeping shift in America’s official thinking about law enforcement and intelligence gathering. In recent years, the United States has become more and more committed to the idea of bringing local police forces into the business of sniffing out terrorists. In 2002, the National Joint Terrorism Task Force was set up to coordinate existing collaborative efforts among federal, state, and local law enforcement. And since 2006, the Department of Justice has been developing a program called the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, through which local cops are meant to act as intelligence gatherers on the ground, feeding reports of suspicious activity to a network of data “fusion centers” spread out across the country. The system is scheduled to be up and running in all seventy-two of the nation’s fusion centers by the end of this year. But in order for the cops to play a role in counterterrorism, the thinking goes, they need to be trained. And that’s where Kharoba and his ilk—counterterrorism trainers for hire—come in.

The very idea of integrating local police into the nation’s counterterror intelligence efforts is a subject of debate among security experts. People at the highest level of law enforcement and intelligence—to say nothing of civil liberties groups—have concerns about the strategy. While the premise is perhaps intuitively appealing—particularly in a place like Florida, where several of the 9/11 hijackers took flying lessons—one danger is that the system will be flooded with bad leads. An increase in incidents like the mistaken arrests on Alligator Alley would only degrade police work, obscure real threats, and spoil relations between America’s cops and America’s Muslims—who have thus far volunteered some of the most fruitful leads in preventing domestic terror attacks.

It might be theoretically possible to ward off such an outcome if police could be provided with impeccable training. But one of the central problems is that the demand for training far exceeds the supply of qualified instructors. Even the CIA and FBI have had trouble finding people with the key skills to fill their ranks. For state and local law enforcement departments, the scarcity is even more acute. Into the void, self-styled experts have rushed in.

While expertise in counterterrorism training may be in short supply, money for it is not. Each year the federal government directs billions of dollars (no one knows exactly how much) in terrorism-related training grants to state and local governments. These funds cascade down into myriad training programs like the one at Broward College, where instructors like Kharoba ply their trade with only minimal supervision.

am Kharoba came to the United States from Jordan when he was seventeen to study computing at Louisiana State University. When the 9/11 attacks happened, he was working as a programmer. Noticing that the hijackers used multiple aliases, he became convinced that the American intelligence community was unequipped to deal with the multiplicity of Arab names. Kharoba quit his job and began work on a database of every jihadi website and name that he could find. “For nine months, I worked developing this database, with no income. I knew I could do it,” he told us. “It would be the best thing. I would solve a critical problem for the intelligence community, and then I’d call the Bureau, call the CIA, sell it for five million, and I’m done. I did my patriotic duty, and lived my American dream.”

Neither the CIA nor the FBI showed much interest in the database, though. Ten years later, Kharoba is still working on it. He fell into teaching by chance, in 2002, when the Community Oriented Policing Services Program in Louisiana invited him to give a talk. Kharoba had no professional experience in law enforcement, no academic training in terrorism or national security, and is not himself a Muslim. But as a Jordanian-born Christian he was able to turn his place of birth into a selling point. When we asked the dean of the Institute of Public Safety why she recruited Kharoba to teach there, her answer was that Kharoba “put the flavor of Middle Eastern culture into it.”

Kharoba is an especially colorful character, but he is in some ways typical of the kinds of people who have migrated into the police counterterrorism training business. Many have limited background in U.S. counterterrorism and domestic law enforcement, and little patience for the rules and conventions that govern both fields.

Quite a few have found their way into the profession by using their military experience to teach courses in how to respond to terrorist attacks. The trainer Joe Bierly, based in Riverside County, California, served twenty-two years in the Marines, “and another ten plus years in the black world, doing operations.” Bierly has a shooting range at his house, and practices every day. Most cops, he said, only go to the range, “what, once a year?” He doesn’t think American law enforcement is ready for the next terrorist attack. At the end of the day, he said, the question is this: “Can you run fifteen yards on a blood-slicked floor, take aim, and still hit the target?”

Richard Hughbank, another counterterrorism trainer, is a fourth-generation combat veteran on his father’s side. “Honestly, I kinda fell into it,” Hughbank told us when we interviewed him in November 2009. “I think most of us did.” The idea that fighting terrorism was a mission that might extend beyond his military career began to sink in when Hughbank was in Afghanistan. “A man I very much respect, with whom I turned the first five hundred people in to Guantanamo Bay, told me, ‘Richard, this is your future, this is your enemy.’;” Hughbank went on to found and became president of Extreme Terrorism Consulting, which provides counterterrorism training to law enforcement.

John Giduck was a practicing lawyer in the 1980s. Then, he says, during the late Gorbachev era, the American Bar Foundation dispatched him to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), where he met the head of the KGB for Leningrad. (“Putin’s boss,” he says.) They became fast friends, and Giduck began traveling frequently to Russia. He claims to have trained with multiple Russian special forces units, and to be certified by the “Vityaz Special Forces Anti-Terror School.” In 2004, Giduck traveled to Russia immediately after the Beslan school massacre and wrote a book called Terror at Beslan. It was published in 2005, and it raised Giduck’s profile, earning him a guest appearance on the Glenn Beck show in the fall of 2007. Among the book’s most sensational allegations is that the terrorists at Beslan systematically raped their hostages, a claim that no other primary source account has made. In the meantime, Giduck has also become an in-demand counterterrorism trainer.

Some trainers do have roots in law enforcement. In a major recent report on America’s efforts to use local police to monitor the population for terrorist threats, the Washington Post’s Dana Priest and William M. Arkin spoke to a counterterrorism trainer named Ramon Montijo, a former Los Angeles police detective and Army Special Forces sergeant. Like Kharoba, Montijo made sweeping generalizations about Muslims. “They want to make this world Islamic. The Islamic flag will fly over the White House—not on my watch!” he said. “My job is to wake up the public, and first, the first responders.”

Despite their different backgrounds, the counterterrorism trainers we interviewed have a remarkably similar worldview. It is one of total, civilizational war—a conflict against Islam that involves everyone, without distinction between combatant and noncombatant, law enforcement and military. “Being politically correct inhibits you,” Hughbank said. “I know Islam better than my own religion. Some things need to be called a spade.”

In Terror at Beslan, Giduck recounts giving a presentation on the 2002 hostage crisis at the Nord-Ost Theater in Moscow. After most of the terrorists were knocked unconscious by the gas that security forces pumped into the building, Spetsnaz, the Russian special forces, came through, methodically shooting each of the terrorists once in the back of the head. Giduck is convinced that as Americans we could do better: we could shoot them twice. Giduck writes of being alarmed when a policeman came up to him after the talk and said that not one of the cops in the room would ever have considered doing this. “I think the first thing we need to do is pass federal legislation exempting law enforcement from any civil or criminal prosecution, any liability at all, for what they do if there is a terrorist attack on U.S. soil,” Giduck writes. “In attempting to prepare the American psyche for the worst possible terrorist act—the taking and killing of children—we must all shed the veil of civility and luxury in which we conduct our lives.”

“The former military guys [working as trainers] are always looking at this thing from a battlefield perspective,” explains Jack Cloonan, a twenty-five-year veteran of the FBI who worked in the Osama bin Laden special unit from 1996 to 2002. “They are always looking at it as a U.S. military operation. But what does that have to do with sitting in the Bronx? Or trying to blend into society to carry out an attack? It’s just not related.”

And yet these trainers reach a considerable swath of law enforcement personnel. Of the half-dozen instructors we spoke to, most estimated that they had individually trained between 10,000 and 20,000 students over the course of the past five to six years. There are about 800,000 police officers in total in the United States.

hen I look at the life of Muhammad, I get a very nasty image,” said Kharoba, pausing to look around the auditorium. The audience was silent. “I am talking about a pedophile, a serial killer, a rapist,” Kharoba said. “And that is just to start off with.

“Anyone who says that Islam is a religion of peace,” he continued, “is either ignorant or flat out lying.”

Frustration seemed to be burning in the air, and a cop—looking grim, anguished—spoke up. “From a law enforcement standpoint, what can we do?” he asked. “What do we do to deal with these people?”

“The best way to handle these people is what I call legal harassment,” Kharoba answered. “Start to identify who is coming into your area.” Go to the DMV and see who has applied for a driving license. Look at the owners of convenience stores. Corner stores are one of the principal ways Hezbollah launders money in the United States, he said. (The claim is not true.) “You only need one precedent,” Kharoba said. “Health inspectors, alcohol trade officers, these guys can turn a convenience store upside down without a warrant.”

Eventually the discussion turned to Islamic names, a subject in which Kharoba claims a specialty. There are two types of Muslim immigrants, Kharoba told the class: honest ones who Americanize their names, and those who use long Arabic names as a smokescreen. “If I pull someone over at a traffic stop,” said Kharoba, “I’ll ask for a couple of IDs. And if I see different spellings of a name, my Christmas tree is lit up. That’s probable cause to take them in.”

As a law enforcement officer in the audience pointed out, this is hardly true. People have different names for all sorts of reasons. Arabic names often include a long chain of references to ancestors, occupations, places, and relatives, and don’t readily fall into the pattern of first, middle, and last names common in the Christian West. A Muslim name on a passport might be rendered one way by an immigration clerk, and quite another by a desk agent at the local DMV. These differences are not illegal.

Kharoba was undeterred. He pointed out a laminated reference card that he had included in the course materials. With this card, an officer could see if a driver’s name follows the standard naming pattern for the Arabic world. If the police officer remained in doubt, he should call Kharoba, who has an unusual hobby: he collects phone books. Kharoba has a collection of Jordanian phone books right up until 1992. If a cop were to call up with a Jordanian name not shown in the phone book, Kharoba’s advice would be unequivocal. “Fingerprint him. Take him to prison.”

Kharoba reiterated the need to fight ruthlessly, sharing a story about the government of Syria quelling an uprising in Aleppo by shelling the city and killing more than 7,000 people. It’s a terrible story—but no such thing happened in Aleppo. It happened in Hama, a city about ninety miles to the south, in 1982.

Similarly, when we examined his manual, A Law Enforcement Guide to Understanding Islamist Terrorism, we found the claim that when the Muslim population of a country exceeds 80 percent, one should expect “state-run ethnic cleansing and genocide.” The examples given were Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Neither state has ever been involved in genocide. In fact, large sections of Kharoba’s guide turned out to be word for word the same as open-source materials found online—everything from publicly available Facebook pages to anonymously authored PDFs.

hough the federal government covers much of the cost of counterterrorism instruction, it has surprisingly little control over who is chosen to conduct the training. Structural problems abound. There is no unified system of expert evaluation or regulatory authority to impose quality control. The Tenth Amendment, which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” has been interpreted to mean that police powers, and officer training, are the preserve of the states. By design, state and local law enforcement is not the responsibility of the federal government, and neither is officer training. While the Department of Homeland Security offers certification, this only means that approved courses are eligible for DHS funds. If the course is paid for by other means—by a regional source, or by another federal department—DHS accreditation isn’t necessarily required. Even DHS money, once received by a state or local police department, can often be used for trainers without DHS accreditation.

Another theoretical gatekeeper to the world of training is at the state level. In many states, entities called Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) boards determine what should be taught both in basic training and in continuing education courses. However, POST approval does not entail evaluation of the content of each course. If an instructor submits a syllabus that lists appropriate topics and concepts, teaching accurate course content is that instructor’s job. Approval of the instructor, in turn, is usually done on the basis of a resume.

This is the case even with stricter states. Instructors in California must submit a course description, an expanded outline of the material covered, a budget, and—if the course involves such skills as firing a weapon—a safety plan. Under these criteria, Kharoba was deemed qualified.

There are also private accrediting agencies that supposedly vet trainers for competence and expertise and offer a kind of seal of approval. But many of these organizations sprang up after 9/11, and they often consist of little more than websites and a few names.

One of these accrediting organizations is called the Anti-Terrorism Accreditation Board, or ATAB, founded in 2001. ATAB promises that if you pay $695 for their certification (or $495 with a fee waiver), you will receive forty PowerPoints and over eight hundred books. Among ATAB’s promotional materials is a PowerPoint slideshow outlining current al-Qaeda tactics. One of the slides features a grainy picture of someone swinging a golf club and warns of “Golf Course Assassinations,” and the possibility of grenade attacks on the carts.

Richard Hughbank, of Extreme Terror Consulting, has taken ATAB’s more advanced course and become a certified master anti-terrorism specialist (CMAS). He provides ATAB with a glowing reference on its website, as well he might, because although the website doesn’t mention it, Hughbank is also the chairman of ATAB’s Standards Committee.

The certification chairman for ATAB is a man named Keith Flannigan. Flannigan claims numerous qualifications: a BA from Kent State University in 2008, an MA in psychology from the University of Frankfurt, likewise in 2008, and a PhD in philosophy from Northfield University—once again in 2008. However, the National Student Clearing House, a degree-verification service, was unable to find record of Flannigan at Kent State, nor did the University of Frankfurt find any evidence of attendance. When queried, Flannigan claimed that we couldn’t find his records because Keith Flannigan is not his legal name. Flannigan may well have a doctorate, for what it’s worth, from Northfield University, as it is run by the University Degree Program, described by Chronicle of Higher Education as “the granddaddy of diploma mill operations.”

None of this has stopped ATAB from gaining some important clients. For example, the U.S. Navy pays its personnel to get certified with ATAB. Why? “Any certification agency whose subject matter matches 80 percent or more of what the sailor does becomes eligible,” explained Keith Boring at the Navy’s credentials office. “Once the learning center and Navy leadership approves it, then we can pay for the exams.” To date, more than 2,000 Navy personnel (each presumably at the rate of at least $495, for a total of nearly $1 million) have been certified by ATAB.

Another way to gain authority as a counterterrorism expert is to publish a book. Richard Hughbank just published his first, The Dynamics of Terror and Creation of Homegrown Terrorism. John Giduck told us that his career got a significant boost from his book Terror at Beslan, which purports to be the most “complete and accurate” story of the Beslan school siege. We asked Giduck to clarify the sources for his most sensational charge: that scores of rapes occurred during the siege. Who were the alleged rape victims, and when exactly did these alleged incidents occur? In an email to us, Giduck didn’t provide much in the way of clarification but alleged there has been a public cover-up by both the terrorists and the Russian government. He did not explain why no other journalist among the dozens assigned to cover Beslan had managed to unearth such accounts.

“Who was raped? Give me one name and date,” said C. J. Chivers, a New York Times reporter and former Marine who published an 18,000-word narrative reconstruction of the school siege for Esquire magazine and won a 2007 National Magazine Award for his work. Chivers says he interviewed scores of hostages immediately after the event and in the following months and specifically examined Giduck’s allegations of rape. “There were no rapes at Beslan,” he says.

When we wanted to know more about Giduck’s time with the Russian special forces, Giduck wrote back to say that he had done a “series of trainings with Vityaz [a unit of Spetsnaz, the Russian special forces] at their special forces compound and training school on the Balashikha Army Base about 30 miles east of Moscow from 1999 to 2004” and had had close access to a series of elite Russian units, including Rus, another Spetsnaz division. When we made inquiries at the Russian Interior Ministry, we were informed that Giduck had not trained with Vityaz. Instead, he took a commercial course in extreme survival skills, with no counterterrorism component. Representatives from Rus said they had never heard of Giduck.

ven organizations cited for their high standards lack an adequate system for screening trainers. The best example is the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, known as FLETC. FLETC has been around since 1970, and it provides training to more than eighty federal law enforcement agencies—all of them, in fact, except for the DEA and the FBI. Its course development process, according to former FLETC curriculum developer Les Jenson, is stringent. “Subject-matter experts tear apart course proposals,” says Jenson. “They look at handouts, lesson plans, textbooks, and then they say to an instructor, We can accredit you if you make these changes.” FLETC can readily call on both in-house experts and outside contractors to evaluate course proposals and materials. In short, FLETC represents the gold standard for rigor in curriculum evaluations.

So did Sam Kharoba make the cut? Indeed he did. In 2004, Kharoba says, a FLETC training coordinator happened to hear him speak at a counterterrorism conference and was so impressed she invited him to teach sessions to law enforcement agents at FLETC headquarters in Glynco, Georgia. His courses were so well received that Kharoba was soon invited to teach senior instructors at FLETC. Those instructors then began, on an ad hoc basis, incorporating Kharoba’s curriculum into the courses they taught at agency-specific academies at FLETC. Kharoba told us that on March 15, 2005, he received an email from FLETC stating that they wanted to include his materials in the center’s basic curriculum.

As things turned out, though, the students of FLETC wound up being more skeptical than the school’s course evaluators. The same month that Kharoba was being invited to incorporate his material into the FLETC curriculum, FLETC received a complaint from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official named Muhammad Rana. Rana had been angered by course materials that included a handout describing “fundamentalist Muslims” as people with “long beards and head coverings” who, while “we call them radicals … are practicing true Islam.” Eleven out of fifteen members of the class submitted a letter in support of Rana’s complaint, and Rana took his case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which ruled in his favor.

Perhaps embarrassed by the Rana incident, FLETC suspended the official incorporation of Kharoba’s course into the standard curriculum. However, once core FLETC classes are completed, officers and agents attend additional classes specific to their agencies, and as Les Jenson explained, “If an agency hired someone, it would be up to a specific agency to do the quality control.” Via this loophole, Kharoba continued to teach at FLETC for at least a year, from 2005 to 2006. The FLETC website continued to list “Islamic Culture and Names,” which is the name of Sam’s course, in its Fundamentals of Terrorism Training Program until January 22, 2010. That day, we telephoned to inquire about Sam Kharoba and received no answer. By the next day the information had disappeared from the website. Despite the fact that online archives show “Islamic Culture and Names” as part of the curriculum through 2008, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request about the course, FLETC maintains it has “no records.”

Though he is no longer a presence at FLETC, Kharoba continues to teach in other places. In November 2010, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the sheriff in Pasco County, Florida, planned to spend $45,000 of a $361,000 training budget teaching local officers how “radical Muslims groom their facial hair and wear their pants, as well as a ‘behavioral analysis technique to distinguish visually between moderates and radicals.’;” Those classes held at Pasco-Hernando Community College will be taught by Sam Kharoba.

n law enforcement training, student feedback is supposed to act as a check on questionable trainers. Positive course evaluations from police officers are central to the steady employment of those who would train them. The trouble is that most of the terror trainers stay in business precisely because their audience members, few of whom have any background in Islam, report favorably on the instruction they’re receiving.

Police attend classes like Kharoba’s for a variety of reasons. Local and state law enforcement officers must meet annual or biannual training requirements, a certain number of hours of which are slated for maintenance of “perishable skills”: things such as driving and shooting. Officers or their departments can generally pick the rest. Often, departments need a “go-to” person, someone who is a source of information on a subject such as counterterrorism. Attendees tend to be self-selected, motivated by an awareness of how little they know about Islam or a heightened concern about Islamic terrorism, and this can make them more inclined to be receptive to an instructor like Kharoba.

It also helps that the terror trainers are often entertaining. They engage their audience with questions, jokes, stories, and visuals. Like other trainers, Kharoba has a useful stage presence. “He kept an audience of police chiefs captivated,” said Phil Ludos of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “That is not an easy thing to do.”

When we spoke to students from Kharoba’s class in Florida, many were enthusiastic. Olga Gonzalez, who is a TSA officer in Miami, told us she had taken several of Kharoba’s courses. “This guy is brilliant,” she said. “I can’t believe it: just like gang affiliations, you can distinguish between secular and jihadist Muslims.”

Such enthusiasm was echoed by dozens of Kharoba’s students and former students. On one occasion, we asked a student whether gangs—a more conventional subject of police attention—weren’t a more pressing issue for cops than terrorists.

“Yeah, the gangs are a threat,” answered the officer. “But they don’t have 1.5 billion members.”

Sam Kharoba says that in seven years of teaching he has done only one marketing function, because each training session leads to further invitations. Other trainers said similar things. If you are popular with cops, the word spreads; if you are not, you won’t last long. “It’s a very closed community,” Kharoba told us. “Cops are not going to read an advertisement, they are going to listen to friends.”

Were any cops skeptical of Kharoba’s teachings? Some certainly were. David McKaig, a deputy with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, enjoyed Kharoba’s class but noted that its lessons were not always applicable. “We have to uphold the rights of citizens,” McKaig noted. “You can’t violate the constitutional rights based on a hunch.”

But that doesn’t mean that trainers like Kharoba aren’t influential. “Now that I know these people might hate ‘the infidel,’ and be doing whatever they can to undermine the civilized world, I am somewhat leery of dealing with Muslims,” McKaig told us. “I go into their residences respectful but wary, which is not good in my position.”

When we attended one of Kharoba’s seminars in California, the training coordinator happened to sit in with us on the class. He too had serious reservations about the course, which he expressed to us and in a memo he later sent to his superior. His superior privately contacted some of his peers; to date, Kharoba has not been invited back to teach in California. But for both the coordinator and his superior, complaining to the agency that had provided Kharoba’s class—the Florida Regional Community Policing Institute of St. Petersburg College—was out of the question.

That’s because the course had been provided free of charge, through funding from the Department of Justice to the Florida Regional Community Policing Institute, and training coordinators around the country rely on such free courses to supplement state offerings. “Look, if we decide to say that he is full of shit, it would mean that we’re never going to get another class from those guys, because that is how cops are,” the California coordinator told us. “They’d say, ‘That rotten son of a bitch, after we’ve been so good to him and his friends.’;”

ow to clean up the mess? Federal control is not the answer. For one thing, federal standards aren’t especially high. For another, constitutionally, law enforcement is the preserve of the states.

Moreover, there is no one-size-fits-all package for training. “What is relevant in a major city like Los Angeles may be entirely different than in Portland, Maine,” says Mike Rolince, who spent more than thirty years at the FBI, some of it working in counterterrorism. “And if you’re from NYPD or a Chicago PD and you have squads of officers and detectives working something, your budget and your training is significantly different than if you’re one of the majority of departments in the country that have less than thirty sworn officers.”

No matter what size the department may be, though, police need clear guidelines. Officers have to make decisions every day about when and how to apply the law, and when guidelines are bad or lacking, officers can go astray. In 2005, for instance, the Homeland Security and Intelligence Division of the Maryland State Police began secretly infiltrating a wide variety of activist groups—death penalty opponents, bicycle lane advocates, even a citizens group protesting utility rate hikes. Though not a single member of these groups was ever found to pose a security threat, troopers labeled dozens of them as “terrorists” and placed their names and files in a database shared by other regional law enforcement agencies. Perhaps worse, a subsequent state investigation found that no one in the Maryland State Police chain of command “gave any thought whatever to the possibility that its covert surveillance of these groups … was in any way inappropriate.” It is not hard to imagine that under the new Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, countless innocent Muslim Americans could similarly wind up being questioned, documented, and even arrested by local and state authorities, and their names, fingerprints, and other personal information entered into FBI databases, where they would sit for years.

This is a civil liberties issue, but it is also a matter of police effectiveness. As Bill Bratton, who headed up the police departments of both New York and Los Angeles, explains, “There is a real risk as you educate people that you do not, in fact, educate—whether it is law enforcement officers or community—to the degree that you misinform or create a fear or bias that should not be there.”

Indeed, having a bunch of ill-trained local cops sleuth around for jihadists could jeopardize the very counterterrorism efforts the government is supposed to be conducting. For one, it is likely to generate a lot of white noise, forcing analysts to spend precious time sifting through useless information. It could also “dry up important sources of information,” warns Matthew Waxman, an associate professor of law at Columbia University, who has written extensively on the role of local and state law enforcement in counterterrorism.

In counterterrorism, as in most areas of intelligence and law enforcement, vital information often comes from those closest to the suspected perpetrators—from neighbors, friends, even family members. It was an anonymous handwritten note from an Arab American in Lackawanna, New York, a small city outside Buffalo, that led the FBI to arrest six men accused of comprising a sleeper terrorist cell in that city in 2002. In another case last fall in Portland, Oregon, a tip from the Muslim community led federal authorities to arrest in a sting operation a nineteen-year-old Somali-born American for intent to set off a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Ham-handed and overly aggressive behavior by local police toward the Muslim community could break the trust necessary for this kind of information to flow.

The demands placed on police will only increase in the coming years. The Nationwide Suspicious Activities Reporting Initiative asks law enforcement to interpret everyday incidents and decide whether they are indicators of terrorist activity. These decisions are then fed into a nationwide system. Merle Manzi, from the Michigan State University Intelligence Program, argues that requiring line officers to specify that a suspicious activity is probably related to terrorism doesn’t make sense: “The thing about checking a box about terrorism is that, is the officer on the street going to know it is about terrorism? Or will they just know that it is a peculiar thing, something out of the ordinary?”

None of this is to say that state and local police and other first responders cannot play a role where terrorism is concerned. It’s crucial that they be well trained to cope with terrorist incidents once they occur—for instance, to detect and cordon off areas that have been hit by radiological weapons. But intelligence gathering is another matter. Paradoxically, the best thing the police can do in the struggle against terrorism may be to not do “counterterrorism” but simply perform the duties they are already mandated to perform: serve the communities they live in, keep their eyes open for suspicious activities of all sorts, and build the links that result in tip-offs like the one that led to the arrest of the men in Lackawanna.

But regardless of what role cops on the streets should or should not play in fighting terrorism, the fact is that rivers of federal training dollars are already flowing, many of them straight into the pockets of instructors like Sam Kharoba. The training system clearly needs reform. Again, federal control is not the solution, but a first step would be for the federal government to issue voluntary guidelines on how states can best reform their oversight of counterterrorism training—since the most robust reforms will need to happen at the state level. State accreditation should be made mandatory for counterterrorism training courses—it often isn’t—and the accreditation process itself must also be toughened. There should be subject-matter experts who evaluate courses, and they should sit in on classroom sessions anonymously. If such a system of state-based oversight worked properly, then bad trainers would have their state accreditation revoked, and they would no longer be allowed to teach in the state. If states agreed to share lists of bad trainers, then the trainer would effectively be banned nationwide. Time is of the essence. Within the next year, the Department of Justice plans to implement the Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative nationwide, and this will amplify the effects of the bad training being provided—unless the system is reformed quickly. It also behooves us to ask the fundamental question of what role beat cops should play in counterterrorism. But instead of a broader discussion, what we have now is a system that fails to police the ranks of those who train our frontline officers, while no one is paying attention. Apart, that is, from the police.

 

Allen West: I Can’t Be Islamaphobic, I Brought ‘The Light Of Freedom Into The Islamic World’ When I Invaded Iraq

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2011 by loonwatch

Does Allen West suffer from amnesia or is he perpetrating dissimulation?

Allen West: I Can’t Be Islamaphobic, I Brought ‘The Light Of Freedom Into The Islamic World’ When I Invaded Iraq

(ThinkProgress)

At a townhall meeting Monday, tea party firebrand Rep. Allen West (R-FL) got into a shouting match with a Muslim attendee who confronted West about his history of highlyIslamophobic comments. “Don’t try to blow sunshine up my butt and tell me [Islam] is all warm and fuzzy,” the congressman angrily responded to the questioner’s assertion that Islam is not a violent religion.

West appeared on Fox and Friends this morning to discuss the incident. Propped up by Fox host Steve Doocy, West, a retired lieutenant colonel, said he couldn’t possibly be Islamaphobic because, “I have done my share to bring the light of freedom into the Islamic world” while serving with the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan:

DOOCY: You stood up for the principles of the Muslim countries. You served abroad, and you tried to keep freedom alive in Muslim countries.

WEST: Absolutely. And I think that’s one of the things that we should understand. You know, we went into Kosovo to protect the Muslim population there. You know, I was there in Desert Storm and Desert Sheild to protect Kuwait. I served in Iraq, I’ve been in Afghanistan, I spent two and half years there.

So I think I’ve done my share to bring the light of freedom into the Islamic world. And for this young man to come up to me and try to castigate me as some enemy of Islam, I will not tolerate that.

Watch it:

Indeed, West served for 20 years in the military, but his career ended abruptly in 2003 when he resigned under a cloud while facing a court martial over the brutal interrogation of an unnamed Iraqi man. According to his own testimony during a military hearing, West watched four of his men beat the suspect, then West said he personally threatened to kill the man while holding a pistol. According to military prosecutors, West later took the detainee outside and fired a 9mm pistol inches from the man’s head, in order to make him believe he would be shot. West thought the man had information about an assassination plot against him.

It’s telling that West sees occupying another nation and then brutally mistreating one of their citizens as bringing “the light of freedom into the Islamic world.”

 

Sam Ebadi Stabbed for Saying He’s a Muslim

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2011 by loonwatch

Islamophobia? What Islamophobia? The hordes of anti-Muslim Islamophobes will probably blame Sam Ebadi for saying he was a Muslim and getting stabbed.

Deputies: St. Pete man stabbed victim because he’s Muslim

(ABCActionNews)

http://www.abcactionnews.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=7910
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A St. Petersburg man is charged with a hate crime after he allegedly stabbed another man because he’s a Muslim.

“He simply made the mistake of stating he was a Muslim, and it almost cost him his life.” said Ali Ebadi, the son of victim Sam Ebadi.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, 52-year-old Bradley Strott and Ebadi had been talking about religion when the man told Strott he was a Muslim.

He then became upset, grabbed the victim by his shirt and stabbed the man in the neck with his pocket knife, according to Strott’s arrest affidavit.

Strott said that “Muslims are the root of the problems,” the report states.  Ebadi was taken to an area hospital where he has remained since the attack. ”He tried to murder my father and he spent a day in jail, I do not want another muslim family to have to go through what I go through.” said Ali.

Strott has been charged with aggravated battery and was booked into the Pinellas County Jail late Friday night.  He bonded out Saturday.

The Tampa Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations have stepped in and are talking with the FBI about this attack.

According to spokesperson Ramzy Kilic with the organization, the FBI is working with local law enforcement to see if they can upgrade the charges to a hate crime.  Ebadi is expected to be released from the hospital on Monday.

 

Allen West Changing His Tune on Islam?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2011 by loonwatch

Allen West used to be fond of saying Islam is not a religion at all but it now seems he is changing his tune and claiming that he against the “radical jihadist movement” and most surprisingly of all that he “respects Islam.” I don’t believe him at all, it sounds to me like when Geller said she “loves Muslims.” Don’t you love how deceptive these Islamophobes are?

Allen West defends remarks on Islam

By William Gibson

Several religious leaders told South Florida Congressman Allen West on Wednesday they have “deep concern” over his recent comments about a Muslim colleague in Congress and about “your tendency to offer intemperate comments about Islam.”

West immediately replied that he respects Islam, has fought to protect religious freedom and has directed his scorn only at “a radical jihadist movement.”

The flap came over West’s comments at town hall meetings in South Florida and in a recent interview on the “Shalom Show,” a TV program about Jewish life and Israel.

The religious leaders from Jewish, Christian and inter-faith groups wrote a letter to West accusing him of calling U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the “antithesis of the principles on which this country was established” because he is Muslim.

“Regrettably, this is just the latest example of your tendency to offer intemperate comments about Islam,” the letter says. “At a town hall meeting during your campaign, you characterized Islam as America’s enemy and asserted, `Islam is a totalitarian, theocratic political ideology; it is not a religion.’ Such untrue and inflammatory remarks intensify an unsettling trend of anti-Muslim rhetoric and fear in our country. They are also likely to confuse your constituents as to the differences between radical, Islamic extremists and non-violent adherents to Islam.”

The letter was signed by the Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance; Rabbi Jack Moline, director of public policy for The Rabbinical Assembly; Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and the Rev. J. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

In response, West said on Wednesday his comments on Ellison “are not about his Islamic faith but about his continued support of CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations.”

“It is the extremist, radical element that has hijacked Islam that presents a dangerous threat to both our country and our allies throughout the world,” West said in a return letter. “This radical jihadist movement has no place in the United States of America or anywhere on earth.”

“The problem is, these fanatics are often supported by certain groups and organizations that masquerade as more peaceful moderates,” West wrote. “Organizations such as CAIR have long histories of supporting violent anti-American and anti-Israel terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

West told the letter-writers he shares their goal to exercise and safeguard religious tolerance.

 

Allen West Engages in Double Speak on Islam

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on February 1, 2011 by loonwatch

U.S. Rep. West draws applause in Boynton Beach, tough questions on Iraq service, Islam comments

BOYNTON BEACH — An overwhelmingly supportive crowd of 400 or more greeted new U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, at his first public meeting with Palm Beach County constituents tonight, but he still faced some tough questions.

It was the second packed house in four nights for West, who also drew about 400 people to a town hall meeting with Broward County constituents last week in Deerfield Beach.

Tonight’s standing-room-only crowd at St. Mark’s Catholic School applauded when West announced where his district offices are and when he said Congress needs to spend more days working in Washington.

There was applause and even a “whoo-hoo” from the audience when West announced he’ll be on the House Small Business Committee.

When West opened the floor for about an hour of questions, however, he said he wanted to hear first from people who didn’t vote for him.

His first questioner, Anole Halper of Lake Worth, brought up the 2003 incident in which West, then a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel serving in Iraq, fired a pistol near the head of an Iraqi detainee to get him to divulge information about a suspected ambush.

Halper mentioned “torture” before much of her question was drowned out by boos and groans from the audience.

“Having been a commander in combat, if you were one of my soldiers, I would have done the exact same action to protect you,” West responded.

“Obviously people want to continue to bring up something that happened almost eight years ago. I was taken out of command, I was fined $5,000, the matter is over,” said West, who was allowed to retire with a full pension after the incident.

West was also confronted by Nezar Hamze, executive director of the South Florida chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, who brought up West’s past criticisms of Islam.

“You have consistently demonized and insulted my religion. … You’ve insulted the prophet,” Hamze said.

“I will always defend your right to practice a true religion under the First Amendment,” West said. But, West added, “I’m not going to stop speaking the truth,” and he began reciting violent incidents from Islamic history.

“Your version of Islam is exactly what the anti-Islam people are teaching you,” said Hamze, who said acts of violence “have nothing to do with Islam.”

What does “true religion mean”? It is well known that many in West’s camp, Geert Wilders, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer don’t believe Islam is a religion and therefore should not be protected by Freedom of Religion.