Billing himself as a "former terrorist" and a "peace activist", Walid Shoebat, who has described Islam as a "satanic cult", has over the past several years toured Europe and America painting Islam as a religion bent on violent conquest and intent on the killing of Christians and Jews and, bearing that message, Shoebat has appeared on an astonishing range of mainstream media forums. According to Shoebat's website, he has made four appearances on CNN and twelve on Fox, and Shoebat's full list of appearances on radio, TV and personal speaking appearances is extensive. Among those, Walid Shoebat has been a regular at Texas Megachurch Pastor, Christians United For Israel founder John Hagee's "A Night To Honor Israel" events, was at CUFI's July 2007 Washington conference and is currently scheduled to appear this summer at CUFI 2008 along with US Senator Joseph Lieberman. Hagee has also produced an extended video interview in which he queries Shoebat about his alleged terrorist background. But a March 30 investigative report from The Jerusalem Post casts considerable doubt on the veracity of Shoebat's account of his alleged 'terrorist' background and indicates Walid Shoebat may even be guilty of fraud. Shoebat, along with two other self-designated "ex-terrorists" (now born-again Christians), was paid $13,000 dollars, some of it USAF Academy money, to appear on a panel at a United States Air Force Academy conference on terrorism which, according to the organizers of the event, would be packaged into a report to be delivered to members of the US Congress.
The Jerusalem Post story reveals that Walid Shoebat's own relatives dispute his account of having been a terrorist, and although Shoebat routinely says he bombed an Israeli bank, the bank in question told Jerusalem Post reporter Jorg Luyken it had no records of such an attack:
Shoebat's claim to have been a terrorist rests on his account of the purported bombing of Bank Leumi. But after checking its files, the bank said it had no record of an attack on its Bethlehem branch anywhere in the relevant 1977-79 period.
Shoebat told The Jerusalem Post that this could be because the bank building was robustly protected with steel and that the attack may have caused little damage.
Asked whether word of the bombing made the news at the time, he said, "I don't know. I didn't read the papers because I was in hiding for the next three days." (In 2004, he had told Britain's Sunday Telegraph: "I was terribly relieved when I heard on the news later that evening that no one had been hurt or killed by my bomb.")
Shoebat could not immediately recall the year, or even the time of year, of the purported bombing when talking to the Post by phone from the US. After wavering, he finally settled for the summer of 1977.
Below is part one of a 5 part series produced by John Hagee, entitled "Islam Unveiled". In the segment Shoebat describes how, as a child, he was taught hatred of Jews, and Israel, "like mother's milk" but, as described in the Jerusalem post story, two of Shoebat's relatives, who live in Bethlehem, characterized Shoebat's upbringing as mild.
The Jerusalem Post story, by far the most comprehensive concerning the numerous discrepancies and questions that have been raised concerning Walid Shoebat and his supposed "terrorist" background, also delves into the question of Shoebat's foundation, "The Walid Shoebat Foundation":
Visitors to Shoebat's Internet site are encouraged to make a donation to his foundation to enable him to disseminate his message. However, a notice on the page states that for "security reasons," the money will not be debited to his foundation, but rather to a company called Top Executive Media...
Asked by the Post whether the Walid Shoebat Foundation is a registered charity, Shoebat replied that it is registered in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania State Attorney's office said it had no record of a charity registered under this name.
Questioned further, Shoebat said it was registered under a different name, but that he was not aware of the details, which are handled by his manager....
Dr. Joel Fishman, of the Allegany County Law Library in Pennsylvania, expressed doubts about this donation process. If the money were being given to a registered charity, the charity would have to make annual reports to the state and federal government on how it was being spent, he noted.
Beyond questions on Walid Shoebat's past and fundraising acitivities, Shoebat's depiction of Islam fits within a much broader frame with international significance.
As I wrote last February 14, 2008, Walid Shoebat's dubious "ex-terrorism" public presentations can be seen as part of a broad push, from a diverse coalition, to demonize Islam, promote war, even religious war, between Islam and Christianity and assert that Islam is uniquely disposed to give rise to terrorism. Disturbingly, such views, which have little if any academic legitimacy, appear to be increasingly common in the United States Pentagon:
Since 2004, Walid Shoebat and Brigitte Gabriel have been two of the most high profile of a small army of self-appointed "experts", on Islam, the Middle East, and terrorism who have appeared on TV, radio shows, print and in movies bringing American audiences an alleged 'truth' ; Islam, they claim, is inherently bloodthirsty and doctrinally bent on world domination, so Islamic terrorism worldwide, and contemporary conflict in the Middle East, cannot be addressed either non-violently through negotiation, compromise or widened cultural understanding...
Coughlin's main claim to expertise in Islamic studies appears to be one lengthy (333 page) paper he submitted, to the National Defense Intelligence College,"in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science of Strategic Intelligence" entitled To Our Great Detriment: Ignoring What Extremists Say About Jihad [link to PDF file] and which argues that for Muslims (presumably worldwide) Jihad is a 'duty reflecting a requirement of Allah that is defined as "warfare against non-Muslims to establish the religion." '
The extent to which such views on Islam, rather than being anomalous or fringe, have increasingly become the standard consensus within the Pentagon is indicated by a 2006 Pentagon report, "Motivations of Muslim Suicide Bombers", that asserted suicide bombing enjoys mainstream sanction within Islam. As described by WorldNetDaily, the only significant publication on or off the Internet, slanted or not, to notice the report :
'Pentagon briefings show intelligence analysts... found that most Muslim suicide bombers are in fact students of the Quran who are motivated by its violent commands making them, as strange as it sounds to the West, "rational actors" on the Islamic stage.
In Islam, it is not how one lives one's life that guarantees spiritual salvation, but how one dies, according to the briefings. There are great advantages to becoming a martyr. Dying while fighting the infidels in the cause of Allah reserves a special place and honor in Paradise. And it earns special favor with Allah.
"Suicide in defense of Islam is permitted, and the Islamic suicide bomber is, in the main, a rational actor," concludes a recent Pentagon briefing paper titled, "Motivations of Muslim Suicide Bombers." '
One Powerpoint presentation on Islam, by Major Jason Orlich, currently reputed to be "hot" and making the rounds in the Pentagon, portrays Islam as inherently bloodthirsty and bent in world domination and concludes with a lengthy checklist of acts generally considered abhorrent that Mohammad would supposedly condone or had committed. Orlich played a key role in instigating the lengthy investigation of Muslim military chaplain James Yee, who was subsequently completely exonerated.
Orlich's presentation, in slide #4, features a lengthy quote from Walid Shoebat, another featured Hasbara speaker along with Brigitte Gabriel and who, along with two other men as part of a group billed as the "The 3 ex-Terrorists", appeared a paid panel at a recent anti-terrorism conference, held at the US Air Force Academy, which reportedly would be written up as a report on terrorism for the Pentagon and to present to members of Congress. The claims to expertise on terrorism, of Shoebat and the other two "ex-terrorists" of his group, rest mainly on their claims of having formerly been PLO, Hamas and Hizbollah terrorists. But those claims have not been independently verified and the veracity of both Shoebat's account of his past, and that offered by his fellow "ex-terrorist" group member Kamal Saleem, have recently been challenged by several different parties, from Canada's top terrorism expert to a woman who says she's talked to one of Walid Shoebat's relatives who challenges Shoebat's autobiographical account...
Since 2004, Walid Shoebat and Brigitte Gabriel have been two of the most high profile of a small army of self-appointed "experts", on Islam, the Middle East, and terrorism who have appeared on TV, radio shows, print and in movies bringing American audiences an alleged 'truth' ; Islam, they claim, is inherently bloodthirsty and doctrinally bent on world domination, so Islamic terrorism worldwide, and contemporary conflict in the Middle East, cannot be addressed either non-violently through negotiation, compromise or widened cultural understanding....
the claims of Walid Shoebat and Brigitte Gabriel to expertise in the realm are, at best, shaky. Neither has official credentials in the field of terrorism studies and the objectivity of both is heavily compromised. Walid Shoebat is a Christian Zionist whose eschatological view demands an apocalyptic military confrontation, centering around Israel, between Christian and Muslim armies. Both Shoebat and Gabriel are linked, through a welter of ties, to the Israeli Likud Party and may even be currently paid by the Israeli right. Both have demonized Islam in the rawest of terms, and Brigid Gabriel went so far as to state, at the 2007 Christians United For Israel conference, that Muslims and Arabs in the Middle East "have no soul".