Walid Shoebat's Apocalyptic Islamophobia
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Mar 24, 2011 at 06:37:41 AM EST

“Kill them, including the children.”

That’s how to solve the threat of violent militant Muslims?

The above quote is from what one official involved in homeland security said was how she understood the underlying theme of a speech by Walid Shoebat at an anti-terrorism training in Las Vegas in October 2010. Our investigator had turned around after Shoebat’s speech and asked the woman seated one row back what she thought was the solution offered by Shoebat.

“Kill them…including the children…you heard him,” was the full response.
Shoebat’s speech was described by our source as “frightening.”

Thom Cincotta’s report, “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace” skillfully exposes how speakers like Shoebat are teaching our public servants to fear Islam and hate Muslims. Cincotta shows how private counterterrorism training groups utilize a network of biased speakers to train law enforcement at every level and in all parts of the country. The response to these trainings has been, unfortunately, quite positive.

After reading this groundbreaking report, you will likely have a negative response to this post- September 11, 2001 phenomenon.

George D. Little, Director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Studies (ICJS) at Texas State University, in San Marcos, TX, also attended the Las Vegas training where Shoebat spoke. When first contacted by e-mail after the ICTOA conference, Little responded, “I believe there are good Muslims like there are bad ones just like there are good Christians and bad ones.” Little, however, dodged repeated questions about what he specifically thought of the content of Shoebat’s speech, and has since refused to comment altogether.

Shoebat is popular in Texas, having helped organize an anti-Islamic event near Fort Hood; spoken at an evangelical church; and been featured in ads for a statewide law enforcement training: “Preparing Law Enforcement Executives for the Future,” co-sponsored by the state’s Attorney General, Greg Abbott. Shoebat is also periodically interviewed as an expert on Islam on Fox News and is extensively quoted by the right-wing conspiracy website, World Net Daily.

Another Las Vegas conference attendee, Edwin Urie, praised Shoebat’s ICTOA speech. “From my perspective, Mr. Shoebat's presentation was so much on the mark, so specific, and so correct that I was concerned that he would be the target of those about whom he spoke. Maybe the objections are merely a part of that,” wrote Urie in an e-mail. Urie is an adjunct professor at Henley-Putnam University and a specialist in counterterrorism.

Keith Davies, Director of the Walid Shoebat Foundation, claims that the Islamic “definition of Jihad quoted in Sharia law is clear and means struggle but is used in context of holy war to conquer infidels.” Davies continues:

This is the standard interpretation recognized by all schools of thought in Sunni and Shia Islam.” [Not] everyMuslimpractices his religion to the letter but all that do are required to practice Jihad….So if say for argument 10% of Muslims actually practice their religion properly (figure is probably much higher) that would be 150 million terrorists. Even if it were 1% that is 1.5 million terrorists.

This interpretation of Islamic Law and its religious demands is an outlandish distortion; and yet it is being taught to our homeland security personnel. Davies disagrees with my criticism, and suggested that if I ““hate this country and its constitutional values of individual freedom and respect Islamic people so much, maybe Saudi Arabia could be a good place for you to live….”

Shoebat’s speech in Las Vegas was sponsored by the International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association (ICTOA). Michael Riker, president of the ICTOA, said that “numerous public safety personnel along with military personnel heard from Walid Shoebat” at the event. Then Riker defended Shoebat’s bigoted tirade in a blog post:

What you hear from Walid is the TRUTH. The attendees were glued to what [Walid] had to say and the majority of them agreed. The liberal media is afraid to hear what the truth really is. Who has been planning attacks on our country? We are in a war of ideology and if you don't know that you need to get you head out of the sand. Before you make judgment see what is really going on then make an educated decision for yourself.

Shoebat has claimed that Islam is not the religion of God, but rather Islam is the devil, according to the Springfield News Leader. Shoebat revealed he was “shocked to find so many parallels between the Antichrist and Islam."

Religion writer Richard Bartholomew has written that “Shoebat is a pseudo-expert on terrorism, Islamic extremism, and Biblical prophecy, and he teaches that Obama is a secret Muslim and that the Bible has prophesied a Muslim anti-Christ." This means for some apocalyptic Christians that Muslims then would be allies of Satan in the End Times battle between good and evil. In this script, the battle ends when Jesus returns and with a vengeful God kills all those deemed to be non-believers in Christianity. This bloody and bigoted version of apocalyptic prophesies is rejected and condemned by the Catholic and Orthodox churches and every major Protestant denomination.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali wrote about Shoebat and other anti-Islamic bigots in an article on the website of Muslim Military Members, an organization that networks Muslims serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. "Walid Shoebat has built a lucrative speaking career by manipulating the fears and whipping up hatred between Jews and Muslims," wrote Ghazali.

Federal and state agencies have turned to right-wing “experts” on “subversion” throughout U.S. history. These experts have included informers, who have surfaced to spin their tales in public, or converts, who claim to have been involved in skullduggery and now are sounding the alarm. In both cases, the alarmist stories these self-dramatizing demagogues tell tend to be exaggerated or even invented.

The fear that there is a conspiracy to undermine the government emerges periodically throughout our history as a nation. This hunt for an exaggerated subversive enemy “Other” is dubbed a “countersubversion” panic. One government official involved in deporting thousands of innocent Italians and Russians during the “Palmer Raids” panic in the 1920s described it as a “delirium.” Most of us just call it a “Witch Hunt.” Whatever we call it, this countersubversion tendency has fueled episodes of political repression by government agencies and right-wing “patriotic” groups.

Shoebat may be the most outlandish example of the coterie of anti-Islamic bigots and fear mongers who are training law enforcement officials and anti-terrorism agents, but the problem is corrosive. Why are tax dollars being spent to peddle prejudice against Muslims in the United States? This report documents the problem. The solution will depend on a thorough and public review of this sad situation by government officials, elected representatives, a vigilant media, and public outrage.

= = =
From the Preface by Chip Berlet to Thom Cincotta’s report, “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace” for Political Research Associates where they both work as researchers.

The news stories of the last few weeks put the lie to their claims.  If the so-called "experts" were telling the truth, either there wouldn't be any peaceful revolutions in the Mideast, or they would be violent.  The people there wouldn't be seeking democracy or human rights.

The violence I've heard of so far comes from the entrenched elites who want to keep the status quo.

I've read and heard many times that fundamentalism is the result when ordinary people realize 'the system' isn't working for them.  What Shoebat and the others describe is fundamentalism (or an aspect of that mindset), and even then it's not completely accurate, as some fundamentalist systems turn inward rather than outward in expressing their negative natures.  If the US wants to have peace, they need to promote freedom of the individual and a better life for the ordinary person.  If they want to reduce terrorism, then the repressive nature of most governments (including the US government - talk to the poor and certain minorities) needs to be dealt with, and those same governments need to stop allowing and enforcing exploitation of the ordinary people by the rich.  When people see that 'the system' is working for them too, they will be less inclined to commit violence or retreat into repressive forms of thinking.  It may mean for greater discord as people argue about what is best, but that is far better than suicide bombs or gunshots in the night.

In other words, don't put a bandaid on the situation by teaching about terrorism (although that is admittedly a problem and needed) - policy needs to be changed, and at the top.

by ArchaeoBob on Thu Mar 24, 2011 at 10:48:59 AM EST

The report was well done.  Good job for everyone involved.

by ArchaeoBob on Thu Mar 24, 2011 at 10:53:08 AM EST

The apocalyptic fundamentalists have to have an "other" to hate. Communism is mostly dead, apart from isolated pockets like Cuba and North Korea, China has become a Communist in name only state, although it still hangs on to the authoritarianism, so Islam has become the thing to hate these days. Somehow, I don't think Shoebat will stay around to clean up the death and mess to result from his speechifying.

by khughes1963 on Thu Mar 24, 2011 at 12:06:39 PM EST
I find the war against communism to be alive and well in the political and Religious Right.  The narratives are still out there in end times prophecy media and become interwoven with the anti-Muslim narratives.  Also, the battle is largely described in terms of fighting the enemies inside the country who are supposedly preparing the way for the Antichrist.

Note that Walid Shoebat as well as some others who have been providing anti-terrorism training (including  Ret. Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin) are on the end times prophecy speaking circuit.  

by Rachel Tabachnick on Thu Mar 24, 2011 at 05:42:29 PM EST

because it's been a mainstay of conservative (not to mention dominionist/fundamentalist) fearmongering for so long that they just don't think to let go of it?

Americans have been taught to be afraid of "COMMUNISTS!" for so long that I sometimes think it's become part of the culture.  The funny thing is that most people don't understand the political system and parrot conservative/fundamentalist stereotypes.

(Never mind that the system has some inherent flaws and is dated.)

by ArchaeoBob on Thu Mar 24, 2011 at 08:09:11 PM EST

There is a difference between Islamophobic and being aware of Islamofascist terrorist organizations and sympathizers in our own backyard. There are frauds in the training business like Shoebat who purport venomous hatred against Muslims. Do not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Sadly in America, some "mainstream" Muslim organizations are indeed. associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Do they speak for all Muslims? Absolutely not! But Wahhabist funding of organizations in America is a reality. The Muslim Brotherhood is not a joke- here is a website that is not religious or Christian that discusses this [http://globalmbreport.org/] [Also the Right is totally myopic how they have been aiding Wahhabist rulers in Saudi Arabia! http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-722-the-911-mosque-tea -party-and-its-multiple-mad-hatters/ ] There are Muslims in America and the world who are speaking out against the infiltration by radical Wahhabist elements in their midst. In this blog steeplejacking has been mentioned, this is also happening in the Muslim world, too. In Kosovo Here are detailed websites by Muslims that expose the radical agenda- http://www.islamicpluralism.org , and http://www.quilliamfoundation.org .

by zowie on Fri Mar 25, 2011 at 04:03:57 AM EST
... Certainly one of the problems of people like Shoebat and Boykin providing counter terrorism training is that it does damage to reality-based law enforcement.  For instance, if all Muslims who observe their daily prayers are viewed as suspect, then actually identifying the very tiny percentage who might be a threat becomes more difficult, if not impossible. The demonization of an entire population does nothing but hinder counter terrorism efforts.

I'm not going to argue the content either way, but the Global Muslim Brotherhood Report is published anonymously by unnamed editors with unknown qualifications.  No doubt there is plenty of dangerous religious extremism in the Middle East and elsewhere but fears are often manipulated by those in power, such as Ghaddifi claiming that those rebelling against him are Al Qaeda.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Fri Mar 25, 2011 at 10:02:40 AM EST

Muslims can differ as much as Christians and Jews in their religious philosophies. Islam has at least two major divisions, Sunni and Shia Islam, and a variety of legal schools. Shoebat and the other "experts" tend to place all Muslims into a single political and religious philosophy. It would be like assuming all Christians are millennialist/fundamentalist Protestant in orientation or assuming all Jews are Orthodox in orientation.

by khughes1963 on Fri Mar 25, 2011 at 10:21:20 AM EST
By lumping all Muslims together it makes it harder to locate the tiny handful of terrorists.
_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Fri Mar 25, 2011 at 01:39:43 PM EST
Shoebat and other crackpots are definitely muddling up law enforcement in directly pinpointing the terrorists in America. Front Page Magazine, although sometimes a mouthpiece for Shoebat and other crackpots (but often there are writers there who are not opposed to Islam as a whole on there, too), has good information on how some "mainstream" Muslim organizations in America are affiliated with terrorist ideologies. Front Page Magazine also does not even cover the Christian counterpart to Wahhabism/Islamofascism- Dominionist Christianity. However some of the people on Front Page Magazine there lump ALL Muslims into the same group, and some of the presenters who are going to law enforcement agencies are coming from an Evangelical (sometimes Dominionist) background. I strongly recommend all the readers of Talk2Action to look at http://www.islamicpluralism.org and http://www.quilliamfoundation.org - they have online PDFs and articles detailing the differences between Islam, and Islamism/Islamofascism. Islamofascism is a real threat around the world and in America, and here are some well footnoted sources that do not come from Front Page Magazine on this subject (the author is pro Obama and quite left-leaning in orientation!): http://spitfirelist.com/tag/muslim-brotherhood/ http://spitfirelist.com/tag/nazi-islamo-fascist-connection/ http://spitfirelist.com/tag/islamist/ http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-736-taqqiya-sunrise-mo re-about-the-muslim-brotherhood-and-the-piggy-back-coup-in-the-mi ddle-east/

by zowie on Fri Mar 25, 2011 at 03:33:55 PM EST

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