At a White House dinner honoring Iftar (the first meal permitted during Ramadan), President Obama reversed previous statements by Robert Gibbs claiming the Ground Zero Mosque was a local decision, and fully embraced the project before a group of Muslims. Frank Gaffney reports at Big Peace:
As the AP reported, “President Barack Obama on Friday forcefully endorsed building a mosque near Ground Zero saying the country’s founding principles demanded no less. ‘As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,’ Obama said, weighing in for the first time on a controversy that has riven New York and the nation. ‘That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.’
“Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect to those who are different from us-a way of life that stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.”
Gaffney presents a quick rundown on some of the people present at the dinner with ties to Muslim extremist groups. It makes for sobering reading.
The American people are overwhelmingly against the mosque, understanding (as the President does not, apparently) the Islamic practice of constructing mosques to commemorate victories over infidels and symbolize Muslim dominance. The self-proclaimed reconciliation motive of Imam Rauf is not being served by construction of the mosque’ rather, it is aggravating the relationship between Muslims and the American people.
This move puts the mosque (and community center) squarely into the midterm election debate. It is a bit difficult for me to understand the motivation behind this move. Was the President pressured by some of his Muslim friends present at the dinner? Is this a heartfelt statement of principle? Or is this some Alinskyite move, intended to heighten contradictions and “rub raw” (in Alinsky’s words) the emotions of the public for yet-to-be revealed purposes? Certainly, from the standpoint of electoral advantage, it is not a logical move. Perhaps the President really does want a Republican Congress that he can run against in 2012.
Update: Andrew Malcom of the LA Times provides the official text of the President’s address, and the guest list for the dinner. These were no off-the-cuff remarks.
Rick Moran adds:
No one is really surprised at this – especially those of us who understand the overwhelming desire, even need, for liberals to be seen as tolerant and inclusive.
It’s not so much that they actually believe in those values. It’s not important that they believe. It’s that they have a compulsive need to be seen as supporting them, both as a measure of their own self-worth and as a sign to the rest of us that they are our moral superiors.
With 70% of the country opposed to building the mosque, Obama’s support also plays into the great liberal narrative that they are bucking the odds, standing on the battlements waving the bloody shirt of social justice despite the rest of the world being against them. If it sounds like an adolescent’s heroic daydream, you are spot on.
Now, if only those “moderate Muslims” who are building the mosque would take 10 seconds to acknowledge the fact that 9/11 was perpetrated by evil men who also happened to be followers of Islam, that would be a breakthrough. But since Imam Rauf and his crew have failed to dialogue with families of those who lost loved ones on 9/11 and have made statements in the past that places blame for the attack on the US, we won’t get any satisfaction from them.
And note the strawman argument; no one that I know is advocating the notion that Muslims have no right under the Constitution to build the mosque where they please. It has always been the idea that the stated reason for building the mosque flies in the face of the Cordoba Initiative’s actions. That, and the fact that Imam Rauf has some troubling connections to terrorists, and has made statements that would lead one to believe he is no friend of “tolerance and dialogue.”
I hope this statement by the president makes Democrats squirm. Imagine on the campaign trail or in a debate asking the Democratic candidate if he agrees with the president about the mosque? There will be much clearing of throats and hemming and hawing before any kind of an answer to that question is forthcoming.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday forcefully endorsed building a mosque near ground zero, saying the country’s founding principles demanded no less.
“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” Obama said, weighing in for the first time on a controversy that has riven New York
City and the nation.
“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he said. “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”
Obama made the comments at an annual dinner in the White House State Dining Room celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Republicans were quick to pounce on the president’s remarks.
“President Obama is wrong,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. “It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero. While the Muslim community has the right to build the mosque they are abusing that right by needlessly offending so many people who have suffered so much.”
Read more here.
Last week, a journalist who writes for the North Country Times, a small newspaper in Southern California, sent us an e-mail titled “Help.” He couldn’t understand why an Islamic Centre in an area where Adam Gadahn, Osama bin Laden’s American spokesman came from, and that was home to three of the 911 terrorists, was looking to expand.
The man has a very valid point, which leads to the ongoing debate about building a Mosque at Ground Zero in New York. When we try to understand the reasoning behind building a mosque at the epicentre of the worst-ever attack on the U.S., we wonder why its proponents don’t build a monument to those who died in the attack?
New York currently boasts at least 30 mosques so it’s not as if there is pressing need to find space for worshippers. The fact we Muslims know the idea behind the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation to thumb our noses at the infidel. The proposal has been made in bad faith and in Islamic parlance, such an act is referred to as “Fitna,” meaning “mischief-making” that is clearly forbidden in the Koran.
The Koran commands Muslims to, “Be considerate when you debate with the People of the Book” — i.e., Jews and Christians. Building an exclusive place of worship for Muslims at the place where Muslims killed thousands of New Yorkers is not being considerate or sensitive, it is undoubtedly an act of “fitna”
So what gives Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the “Cordoba Initiative” and his cohorts the misplaced idea that they will increase tolerance for Muslims by brazenly displaying their own intolerance in this case?
Do they not understand that building a mosque at Ground Zero is equivalent to permitting a Serbian Orthodox church near the killing fields of Srebrenica where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered?
There are many questions that we would like to ask. Questions about where the funding is coming from? If this mosque is being funded by Saudi sources, then it is an even bigger slap in the face of Americans, as nine of the jihadis in the Twin Tower calamity were Saudis.
Read more here.
A new poll from Siena finds that 61 percent of New York residents and 56 percent of New York City residents oppose the proposed Ground Zero mosque. Only 33 percent of NYC residents support it. Here’s the breakdown:
By a margin of 61 to 26 percent, New Yorkers oppose the proposal to build the Cordoba House, a multi-story Muslim Cultural Center in lower Manhattan two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center according to a new survey released today from the Siena College Research Institute (SRI). New Yorkers have been following the new Arizona immigration law very closely and 52 percent support passing a similar law here in the Empire State. Seventy percent of New York residents say that the presence of 10 to 20 million illegal immigrants poses a somewhat (30%) or very significant (40%) problem to the U.S., and large majorities call for comprehensive immigration reform that would include enhanced border security (79%), the creation of a process for admitting legal temporary workers (70%), and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here (65%).
A New York City panel voted unanimously Tuesday to reject landmark status for a building near the World Trade Center site, paving the way for construction of a mosque and an Islamic community center.
Opponents of the project, including 9/11 first-responders and family members of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, have said the location would be insensitive.
The mosque is slated to be part of an Islamic community center to be operated by a group called the Cordoba Initiative, which says the center will be a space for moderate Muslim voices.
Several members of roughly 50 people who attended the hearing applauded the ruling, while others shouted “shame” as commission chairman Robert Tierney called for the vote. The city Landmarks Preservation Commission then proceeded to vote 9-0 against granting landmark status to the site’s 152-year-old building, which can now be torn down to make way for the Islamic center.
One opponent, Linda Rivera, of Manhattan, held a sign reading, “Don’t glorify murder of 3,000. No 9/11 victory mosque.”
Read more here.
By Daniel Byman and Christine Fair
They blow each other up by mistake. They bungle even simple schemes. They get intimate with cows and donkeys. Our terrorist enemies trade on the perception that they’re well trained and religiously devout, but in fact, many are fools and perverts who are far less organized and sophisticated than we imagine. Can being more realistic about who our foes actually are help us stop the truly dangerous ones?
In the years after 9/11, the images we were shown of terrorists were largely the same: shadowy jihadists who, even when they were foiled, seemed always to have come terrifyingly close to pulling off a horrific attack. We’ve all become familiar by now with the stock footage of Talibs in black shalwar kameezes zipping across monkey bars or, more recently, perfecting kung fu kicks in some secret training camp. Even in the aftermath of the botched Times Square bombing earlier this spring, the perception persists that our enemies are savvy and sophisticated killers. They’re fanatical and highly organized—twin ideas that at once keep us fearful and help them attract new members.
But this view of the jihadist community is wildly off the mark. To be sure, some terrorists are steely and skilled—people like Mohamed Atta, the careful and well-trained head of the 9/11 hijackers. Their leaders and recruiters can be lethally subtle and manipulative, but the quiet truth is that many of the deluded foot soldiers are foolish and untrained, perhaps even untrainable. Acknowledging this fact could help us tailor our counterterrorism priorities—and publicizing it could help us erode the powerful images of strength and piety that terrorists rely on for recruiting and funding.
Nowhere is the gap between sinister stereotype and ridiculous reality more apparent than in Afghanistan, where it’s fair to say that the Taliban employ the world’s worst suicide bombers: one in two manages to kill only himself. And this success rate hasn’t improved at all in the five years they’ve been using suicide bombers, despite the experience of hundreds of attacks—or attempted attacks. In Afghanistan, as in many cultures, a manly embrace is a time-honored tradition for warriors before they go off to face death. Thus, many suicide bombers never even make it out of their training camp or safe house, as the pressure from these group hugs triggers the explosives in suicide vests. According to several sources at the United Nations, as many as six would-be suicide bombers died last July after one such embrace in Paktika.
Many Taliban operatives are just as clumsy when suicide is not part of the plan. In November 2009, several Talibs transporting an improvised explosive device were killed when it went off unexpectedly. The blast also took out the insurgents’ shadow governor in the province of Balkh.
When terrorists do execute an attack, or come close, they often have security failures to thank, rather than their own expertise. Consider Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab—the Nigerian “Jockstrap Jihadist” who boarded a Detroit-bound jet in Amsterdam with a suicidal plan in his head and some explosives in his underwear. Although the media colored the incident as a sophisticated al-Qaeda plot, Abdulmutallab showed no great skill or cunning, and simple safeguards should have kept him off the plane in the first place. He was, after all, traveling without luggage, on a one-way ticket that he purchased with cash. All of this while being on a U.S. government watch list.
Fortunately, Abdulmutallab, a college-educated engineer, failed to detonate his underpants. A few months later another college grad, Faisal Shahzad, is alleged to have crudely rigged an SUV to blow up in Times Square. That plan fizzled and he was quickly captured, despite the fact that he was reportedly trained in a terrorist boot camp in Pakistan. Indeed, though many of the terrorists who strike in the West are well educated, their plots fail because they lack operational know-how. On June 30, 2007, two men—one a medical doctor, the other studying for his Ph.D.—attempted a brazen attack on Glasgow Airport. Their education did them little good. Planning to crash their propane-and-petrol-laden Jeep Cherokee into an airport terminal, the men instead steered the SUV, with flames spurting out its windows, into a security barrier. The fiery crash destroyed only the Jeep, and both men were easily apprehended; the driver later died from his injuries. (The day before, the same men had rigged two cars to blow up near a London nightclub. That plan was thwarted when one car was spotted by paramedics and the other, parked illegally, was removed by a tow truck. As a bonus for investigators, the would-be bombers’ cell phones, loaded with the phone numbers of possible accomplices, were salvaged from the cars.)
A similar streak of ineptitude has been on display in the United States, where many of those arrested on terrorism-related charges possess long criminal records and little sense of how to put a nefarious idea into action. A group of Miami men schemed (often while smoking marijuana) to attack targets in South Florida as well as the Sears Tower in Chicago, but they couldn’t get their hands on explosives and were uncovered when the FBI easily penetrated their ranks.
If our terrorist enemies have been successful at cultivating a false notion of expertise, they’ve done an equally convincing job of casting themselves as pious warriors of God. The Taliban and al-Qaeda rely on sympathizers who consider them devoted Muslims fighting immoral Western occupiers. But intelligence picked up by Predator drones and other battlefield cameras challenges that idea—sometimes rather graphically. One video, captured recently by the thermal-imagery technology housed in a sniper rifle, shows two Talibs in southern Afghanistan engaged in intimate relations with a donkey. Similar videos abound, including ground-surveillance footage that records a Talib fighter gratifying himself with a cow.
Pentagon officials and intelligence analysts concede privately that our foes also have a voracious appetite for pornography—hardly shocking behavior for young men, but hard to square with an image of piety. Many laptops seized from the Taliban and al-Qaeda are loaded with smut. U.S. intelligence analysts have devoted considerable time to poring over the terrorists’ favored Web sites, searching for hidden militant messages. “We have terabytes of this stuff,” said one Department of Defense al-Qaeda analyst, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “It isn’t possible that they are encrypting messages in all of this stuff. Some of these guys are just perverts.”
Tawdry though this predilection for porn may be, it is not necessarily trivial. There is, after all, potential propaganda value in this kind of jihadist behavior. Current U.S. public diplomacy centers on selling America to the Muslim world, but we should also work to undermine some of the myths built up around our enemies by highlighting their incompetence, their moral failings, and their embarrassing antics. Beyond changing how the Muslim world perceives terrorists, we can help ourselves make smarter counterterrorism choices by being more realistic about the profile and aptitude of would-be attackers. More and more, as we work to disrupt training efforts, the jihadists we face are likely to be poorly prepared, and while that won’t always ensure a bungled attack, it suggests that terrorists are likely to select targets that are undefended and easy to hit. The United States has spent billions on port security since 9/11, even though terrorists have shown little interest in ports as targets and even less ability to actually strike them. In contrast, even small investments in training for police and airport-security personnel can make a big difference, as these are the people most likely to encounter—and have a chance to disrupt—an unskilled attacker.
The difference between a sophisticated killer like Mohamed Atta and so many of his hapless successors lies in training and inherent aptitude. Atta spent months learning his trade in Afghanistan and had the help of al-Qaeda’s senior leadership—a fact that underscores the importance of rooting out al-Qaeda havens in Pakistan. After all, fighting terrorism is a chore made simpler when we can keep the terrorists as inept as most of them naturally are.
by Pamela Geller
Despite weather forecasts of thunderstorms, the skies were clear and beautiful Sunday afternoon for our Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) rally against the Ground Zero mega-mosque, but not as beautiful as the patriotic crowd who came out to stand for freedom against this insulting manifestation of Islamic supremacism. It was a real cross-section of humanity: every race, creed, color and religion were out in all their glory.
My SIOA colleague, bestselling author and Islam expert Robert Spencer, and I were expecting 500 people to attend our rally. Imagine our wonder when close to 5,000 showed up. Other estimates ranged up to 10,000. The crowd was so huge that it filled the police pens and Zuccotti Park, and overflowed to the other side of the street.
Despite the huge size of the rally, there was little media coverage at the event, which indicates the media’s bias. The NY News actually ran a segment repeatedly Sunday afternoon about the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender parade, but not a word about our massive rally. And all Sunday, Fox News was running—get this—Greta Van Susteren’s years-old interview with Natalee Holloway’s murderer.
But there were loads of bloggers, including El Marco, Pamela Hall, and others, who put the mainstream media to shame with their thorough coverage and exemplary photojournalism. They showed yet again how essential the new media is today—and how useless the old.
Our speaker list was wide-ranging. We had C. Lee Hanson, who lost his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter on 9/11; Anders Gravers of our sister organization, Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE); Simon Deng, the Sudanese ex-slave and campaigner for human rights for Sudanese Christians; James Lafferty of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force; Nonie Darwish, ex-Muslim and author of Now They Call Me Infidel and Cruel and Usual Punishment; Dr. Babu Suseelan, a Hindu leader and human rights activist; Herbert London of the Hudson Institute; and Alan T. DeVona, the patrol sergeant on duty at the time of the jihad terror attack on September 11. Also attending were some politicians who are attuned to the will of the people: Jay Townsend, who is running against Sen. Chuck Schumer for (D.-N.Y.) and has been endorsed by the New York Conservative Party and is on the GOP ballot; Vincent Forras, a candidate for Senate in Connecticut; and Dan Maloney, the New York director of Gathering of Eagles and a congressional candidate in New York’s 4th Congressional District.
And this is just the beginning. We are going to sue to designate as a war memorial the Burlington Coat Factory building, which the Muslims behind the Ground Zero Mosque initiative are already using as a mosque, and which is slated to be torn down to make way for the massive fifteen-story mega-mosque.
This is the right thing to do, since there is a large piece of an airplane in that building. That makes the building a war memorial, no less than Gettysburg or Pearl Harbor. There should be no mosque there, and nothing there but a memorial to the people America lost to that heinous attack on September 11, 2001. Instead of a mega mosque at Ground Zero, let’s build a 911 war memorial to the victims. That will give us the opportunity to redress yet another insult: the current plan for a 911 museum is several floors underground, like a dungeon. And the mosque plan calls for the mosque to be on the top floor, looking down triumphantly on the burial ground of Ground Zero.
I don’t think so.
The Burlington Coat Factory building must be a war memorial, a historic landmark. We will sue to make that happen. We are also planning another SIOA protest against the mega-mosque in September, and will stage sit-ins in front of the mosque should they try to break ground.
And we will never give up.
Three thousand good and decent Americans did not die in vain. And we have not forgotten them, even if Mayor Bloomberg and the rest of the New York political establishment have.
Ground Zero booster tied to sea clash
By ANDY SOLTIS
The imam behind a proposed mosque near Ground Zero is a prominent member of a group that helped sponsor the pro-Palestinian activists who clashed violently with Israeli commandos at sea this week.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a key figure in Malaysian-based Perdana Global Peace Organization, according to its Website.
Perdana is the single biggest donor ($366,000) so far to the Free Gaza Movement, a key organizer of the six-ship flotilla that tried to break Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip Monday.
Nine passengers aboard the largest ship died in clashes with Israeli commandos, and a new confrontation loomed today, when another Free Gaza Movement ship was due to reach Gaza waters in defiance of Israel.
SHIP-HEAD: Using convincing props yesterday, West Bank protesters restage Israel’s attack of relief ships bound for the Gaza Strip.
Efforts to reach Imam Abdul Rauf yesterday for comment were unsuccessful.
Deborah Burlingame, the sister of the American Airlines pilot whose hijacked plane struck the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, said the indirect ties of the imam to the protesters who confronted Israeli forces Monday were not surprising.
“I think it goes to show he is not the man he represents himself to be. We have two Imam Raufs,” she said.
“We have the anti-Israel, anti-democratic imam, and we have the smiling, soft-spoken moderate Muslim who says ‘Why can’t we all get along?’ ”
The Free Gaza Movement is a charity that has made nine seaborne aid missions in the past two years to break the Israeli blockade.
In the latest effort, the group’s ship, the MV Rachel Corrie, which sails under an Irish flag, had made it about 35 miles off the Gaza coast last night before it was intercepted.
Israeli ships were shadowing the vessel, but it had not been boarded. Earlier yesterday, the Irish government said it had reached an accord with Israel to avoid another showdown, but the activists aboard rejected the deal.
Irish diplomats said that under the agreement, the ship would have docked at the Israeli port of Ashdod for inspection of its cargo under the supervision of UN officials.
Israel agreed to transfer all the content, except weapons and war materials, to Gaza, accompanied by two Free Gaza members, according to the agreement. But the activists said they would only allow a security check at sea.
“We will never stop at Ashdod,” said Free Gaza Movement spokeswoman Greta Berlin.