An “American Dirty Bomber,” Yet Spencer Stays Silent

TIME Magazine has just released the results of a six-month journalistic investigation of the many extreme militias that have emerged in America. Conducted by veteran reporter Barton Gellman, it chronicles chilling stories of American militias that are armed to the teeth and ready for war. Check out this excerpt:

Camouflaged and silent, the assault team inched toward a walled stone compound for more than five hours, belly-crawling the last 200 yards. The target was an old state prison in eastern Ohio, and every handpicked member of Red Team 2 knew what was at stake: The year is 2014, and a new breed of neo-Islamic terrorism is rampant in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio … The current White House Administration is pro-Muslim and has ordered a stand-down against Islamic groups. The mission: Destroy the terrorist command post — or die trying. The fighters must go in “sterile” — without name tags or other identifying insignia — as a deniable covert force. “Anyone who is caught or captured cannot expect extraction,” the briefing officer said.

At nightfall the raiders launched their attack. Short, sharp bursts from their M-16s cut down the perimeter guards. Once past the rear gate, the raiders fanned out and emptied clip after clip in a barrage of diversionary fire. As defenders rushed to repel the small team, the main assault force struck from the opposite flank. Red Team 1 burst through a chain-link fence, enveloping the defense in lethal cross fire. The shooting was over in minutes. Thick grenade smoke bloomed over the command post. The defenders were routed, headquarters ablaze.

This was a training exercise conducted by the “Ohio Defense Force,” a private militia that claims 300 members. Notice how they talk about “neo-Islamic terrorism” and that the Administration is “pro-Muslim,” thus necessitating their attack. And according to the article:

As militias go, the Ohio Defense Force is on the moderate side. Scores of armed antigovernment groups, some of them far more radical, have formed or been revived during the Obama years, according to law-enforcement agencies and outside watchdogs. A six-month TIME investigation reveals that recruiting, planning, trainin and explicit calls for a shooting war are on the rise.

But wait, there’s more:

Some groups, though not many overtly, embrace the white-supremacist legacy of the Posse Comitatus, which invented the modern militia movement in the 1970s. Some are fueled by a violent stream of millennial Christianity. Some believe Washington is a secondary foe, the agent of a dystopian new world order.

A small but growing number of these extremist groups, according to the FBI, ATF and state investigators, are subjects of active criminal investigations. They include militias and other promoters of armed confrontation with government, among them “common-law jurors,” who try to make their own arrests and convene their own trials, and “sovereign citizens,” who respond with lethal force to routine encounters with the law. In April, for example, Navy veteran Walter Fitzpatrick, acting on behalf of a group called American Grand Jury, barged into a Tennessee courthouse and tried to arrest the real grand-jury foreman on the grounds that he refused to indict Obama for treason. In May, Georgia militia member Darren Huff was arrested by Tennessee state troopers after telling them that he and other armed men intended to “take over the Monroe County courthouse,” free Fitzpatrick and “conduct arrests” of other officials, according to Huff’s indictment and his own account in an interview posted online. Investigators are keeping a wary eye on a related trend, which has yet to progress beyond words, in which law officers and military service members vow to refuse or resist orders they deem unconstitutional. About a dozen county sheriffs and several candidates for sheriff in the midterm elections have threatened to arrest federal agents in their jurisdictions.

One of these “Patriots,” as many of them call themselves, was even a “Dirty Bomber,” like Jose Padilla. His name was James Cummings, and after he was shot to death by his wife, chilling details emerged about his deeds and intentions:

Amber Cummings, then 31, shot her husband James, 29, to death, dropped the Colt .45 revolver and walked to a neighbor’s to dial 911. Evidence of her torment at the dead man’s hands during years of domestic abuse would later persuade a judge to spare her a prison sentence.

On the day of the shooting, Dec. 9, 2008, the story she told and an initial search of the house brought an FBI forensic team running. James Cummings appeared to have accumulated explosive ingredients and radioactive samples. He had filled out an application to join the National Socialist Movement and declared an ambition to kill the President-elect.

[...]

A much more sobering picture emerged from the dead man’s handwritten notes and printed records, some of which were recently made available to TIME. Fresh interviews with principals in the case, together with the documents, depict a viciously angry and resourceful man who had procured most of the supplies for a crude radiological dispersal device and made some progress in sketching a workable design. In this he was far ahead of Jose Padilla, the accused al-Qaeda dirty-bomb plotter, and more advanced in his efforts than any previously known domestic threat involving a dirty bomb. Cummings spent many months winning the confidence of online suppliers, using a variety of cover stories, PayPal accounts and shipping addresses. He had a $2 million real estate inheritance and spent it freely on his plot.

[...]

Maine state police detective Michael McFadden, who participated in the investigation throughout, says he came to believe that James Cummings posed “a legitimate threat” of a major terrorist attack. “When you’re cooking thorium and uranium under your kitchen sink, when you have a couple million dollars sitting in the bank and you’re hell-bent on doing something, I think at that point you become someone we want to sit up and pay attention to,” he says. “If she didn’t do what she did, maybe we would know Mr. Cummings a lot better than we do right now.”


James Cummings

The article is a must read. It is a frightening look into the world of America’s other homegrown terrorists, who are just as – if not much, much more – dangerous than the Faisal Shahzads and Nidal Malik Hassans.

Yet, there is one person who, apparently, does not pay attention to such things: why, the “Scholar” Robert Spencer. A look at his website revealed no such mention of the TIME investigation, even though it made national news. I mean, he is so quick to jump on any news of potential terrorist plots, or criminal acts committed by Muslims all across the world. In fact, he even reports on terrorist plots by Muslims and then fails to mention that the perpetrators had no religious motivation.

But, this time, there is not one peep from Spencer about these militia groups, not even about America’s own “Dirty Bomber,” who was

far ahead of Jose Padilla, the accused al-Qaeda dirty-bomb plotter, and more advanced in his efforts than any previously known domestic threat involving a dirty bomb.

Why would this be? Why the silence, Mr. Spencer? (Psst: they’re not Muslims!)

Facts Don’t Matter to the “Scholar” Robert Spencer

Everyone keeps claiming that Robert Spencer is this big time “scholar.” Yet, it seems that he could care less when it comes to the facts. In a recent rant about the Chicago man who was arrested after planting what he thought was a real bomb in a dumpster outside of Wrigley Field, Spencer penned this:

Got to watch out for those “Chicago men,” especially during yet another long summer of frustration at Wrigley, as Sweet Lou Piniella has ridden off into the sunset with no end in sight for the Cub Fan’s frustration. It would drive anyone to plant a bomb, now, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it?

He seems to lament the fact that the media, quite responsibly, called the suspect, Sami Hassoun, as a “Chicago man,” rather than identifying him by his religion. Presumably, looking at his Facebook page, he is Muslim since he did have a status saying “eid mubarak.” Still, Spencer seemed to not like the fact that the news reported him as he is: a Chicago man.

Once again, however, Robert Spencer’s “scholarship” shows in his total disregard for the facts. Had he bothered to even do a simple Google search, rather than just post the headline and move on, he would have found that this “Chicago man,” Sami Hassoun, had absolutely no religious motivation for his alleged attack:

Authorities said Hassoun wasn’t motivated by religious or political views but rather by a bizarre desire to undermine the mayor’s political support and allow an associate to take control of the city. He also hoped to profit from the scheme by being paid for his terrorism work by supporters, the charges alleged.

In fact, according to the authorities, Hassoun had even suggested that they blame the attacks on Muslim extremists:

Hassoun suggested the plotters attempt to put blame for the attack on Muslim extremists.

When undercover agents told Hassoun their group wanted to change how the U.S. treated people “back home,” Hassoun seemed uninterested in ideology.

“Mine is a different kind of concept than this,” Hassoun said. “We’re floating same boat, you know. … We’re doing the same thing, but everybody has their own interest. … The results of this is a benefit to everybody.”

So, this man had absolutely no religious motivation behind his plot to bomb Wrigleyville. He never mentioned Islam or “jihad,” or the Qur’an as his motivation. No “taqiyya,” or “kitman,” or any other term that Spencer uses to mislead the public. He told his informants why he wanted to commit terrorism:

Hassoun was critical of Daley, telling the informant that the mayor’s policies had weakened security in the city and once saying he wanted to foment a “revolution” in the city, according to the charges.

But, that doesn’t matter to Robert Spencer. It seems that if any criminal commits a crime and happens to be a Muslim, then “poof” he becomes a “Islamic Jihadist” bent upon destroying the West. Facts just don’t matter to the “scholar” Robert Spencer.

Friends of Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller: The Far Right Sweden Democrats

Charles Johnson of LGF has a good post on the direct links between the recently victorious “Sweden Democracts” and Pamela Geller/Robert Spencer. This is more proof of the diabolical alignment between American Islamophobes and xenophobic, racist, anti-Muslim hate parties such as the Sweden Democrats.

Friends of Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller

One of the European allies of American anti-Muslim demagogues Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer is a political party called the “Sweden Democrats” — a party with roots inoutright Nazism.

Last week a Sweden Democrats politician was forced to quit after posting an ugly racist rant at his blog, claiming thatAfricans have ‘rape genes’.

politician has quit a far right party in Sweden after his blog, in which he claimed black Africans are genetically predisposed towards rape, caused outrage across the country. Per T K Wahlberg of the Sweden Democrats party has been forced to stand down from his position after claiming that people of African descent have been raping women and children for centuries.

Wahlberg currently holds 26th place on the party’s list for municipal election in Landskrona, southern Sweden. At the last elections in 2006, the Sweden Democrats, who are attempting to distance themselves from open racism, claimed 11 seats in the area.

In his blog entitled “Landskronabackspege”, meaning Landskrona rear view mirror, 76-year-old retiree Wahlberg wrote about what he sees as the “genetic characteristics” of black Africans.

“For many thousands of years, the Negro could chill out in the heat, eat some bananas, rape some passing woman or child, fight with other negro males and eat them up, play the drums a little, run around a bit, catch an antelope, eat a few bananas, f**k a bit, get drunk on fermented fruits or herbs, and so on. This has been going on for millennia without any evolutionary pressure in the form of environmental factors forcing the Negro to develop in another direction,” the blog read.

Speaking to The Local on Friday, Wahlberg refused to completely distance himself from the controversy and said the “ironically” written quotes were taken from Sweden’s provocative political and media forum Flashback. “You could say that some parts have some truth to them. But generally speaking it is written with irony,” he said.

However, in an earlier interview with local paper Helsingborgs Dagblad, Wahlberg insisted, “I think that it was quite an accurate description. If we look at history, then humanity began in Africa once upon a time, and then there were some who emigrated to Europe and Asia. But at what level are they now? Not much has happened over these thousands of years.”

Wahlberg claims that the Sweden Democrats have never been critical about his blog, which also contains posts which are disparaging towards Muslims. He has, however, since left the party in the wake of increased attention from the country’s mainstream media.

Spencer and Geller still Yapping about their “Historic” Rally

Robert Spencer and his goonish friend Pamela Geller, leaders of the hate group SIOA and FDI are claiming that the size of their rally on September 11th, which they billed as the biggest thing ever was huge.

The fact is that it was really not that big, let alone historic. It was definitely not in the 40,000 or more range as Geller and Spencer claim. In fact according to the AP it wasn’t larger than a thousand.

Charles Johnson sums it up well:

Anti-Mosque Rally Attendance: Less Than 1,000

According to the Associated Press, attendance at Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s international hate rally was less than 1,000: The Associated Press: Dueling demonstrations begin after 9/11 memorial.

After the ceremony, around 1,000 activists rallied about five blocks from the site of the 2001 attacks to support the proposed Islamic community center. A smaller group of opponents rallied nearby, chanting, “USA, USA.”

UPDATE at 9/11/10 6:27:36 pm:

Hilarious! Geller is claiming 40,000. Who could ever have predicted that?

UPDATE at 9/11/10 6:41:30 pm:

Pamela Geller’s closing words to the seething throng:

As the crowds dissipated, Geller warned them against talking to members of the media: “Do not give them any ammunition. You know who you are. You know that you’re righteous. Do not give them an opportunity to deride this fine and honorable effort. Remember what I’m saying. They’re looking to catch you. Don’t give it to them.”

Listen to Mommy,” she said.

Of course Spencer and company claim that it is a big old conspiracy against those who want to expose Islam, and that the numbers are under reported. Fact is that it isn’t under reported, it is just the their hate rally was “historically” underwhelming.

Spencer and the Qur’an: Book Burning bad but Book Banning Good

Robert Spencer has a Geert Wilders problem. He is an unabashed supporter of Wilders, citing him as the champion of Western civilization, the only one willing to stand up for our freedoms in the face of the Muslim menace and an individual we should all be supporting.

[I] support Wilders. And so should anyone who holds dear the Western values that are threatened by Islamic supremacists — notably, as I said above, the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, the equality of rights of all people before the law.

But apparently not Freedom of Religion.

Recently Spencer has commented on the Burn a Koran day festivities saying,

I oppose the Qur’an-burning. I don’t like the burning of books…However, these people are free to do what they want to do.

Isn’t Spencer so merciful? Thank you for opposing the burning of books, what a courageous stand for a defender of the West!

But wait Spencer, you oppose burning books but your buddy Geert Wilders has called for the Quran to be banned in the Netherlands.

The Koran must be banned

Pretty unequivocal statement right there. No ifs, ands or buts just plain banning. So when are you going to take a courageous stand and defend Freedom of Speech and Religion by calling your buddy Wilders out for his Nazi like fascistic statement to ban the Quran?

Robert Spencer Just Can’t Handle the Truth

“Pre-eminent scholar” Robert Spencer is just like Tom Cruise in the movie “A Few Good Men.” He simply just “can’t handle the truth!”

In a recent post, Spencer attempts to debunk a Washington Post article about common myths about mosques in America written by Edward E. Curtis IV. It is an excellent piece, but apparently that was too much for Spencer, and he inserts a whole host of mistruths to counter the realities of the WaPo article.

For instance, in his response to the Myth #1: “Mosques are not new to this country,” Spencer writes:

See, folks? Curtis is here semaphoring that Muslims are a victim class, that they always have been, and that opposition to them is racially-based. As for Job Ben Solomon, I suspect that Curtis’s source here is a Muslim one, designed to reinforce a sense that Muslims are victims rather than tell actual history.

Robert Spencer just “can’t handle the truth.” Islam and Muslims have been present in the New World before our great Republic was a gleam in the Founders’ eyes, and Spencer, it seems, just can’t fathom this. So, he claims that the story about Job Ben Solomon was from a “Muslim source.” Umm…sorry, Robert, he was an actual, real person:

African Muslim slave. Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (later known to Europeans as Job Ben Solomon) was born to a powerful family of Muslim clerics of the Fulbe tribe in the northern region of present-day Senegal. While he was in Africa, Job received formal educational training in both secular and religious fields. He assisted his father in trade and became quite wealthy by the age of twenty-nine, owning three houses, a plantation with eighteen servants, and more than seventy head of cattle. In February 1730, however, Job’s father sent him on a slave-trading mission that would ironically lead to his own capture and enslavement in North America.

My source? The Oxford African American Studies Center. Not satisfied? Here is another source: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. Still not enough? Here is yet another source: The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. All non-Muslim sources. Or, are they all conspiring in a Leftist “dhimmi” conspiracy? Oh…wait…I remember: they are all secret Muslim sources practicing “taqiyya.”

In response to Myth #2: “Mosques try to spread sharia law in the United States,” Spencer penned this:

Anyway, what do mosques in America teach? As long ago as January 1999, the Naqshbandi Sufi leader Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani declared in a State Department Open Forum that Islamic supremacists controlled most mosques in America: “The most dangerous thing that is going on now in these mosques,” he said, “that has been sent upon these mosques around the United States – like churches they were established by different organizations and that is ok – but the problem with our communities is the extremist ideology. Because they are very active they took over the mosques; and we can say that they took over more than 80% of the mosques that have been established in the US. And there are more than 3000 mosques in the US. So it means that the methodology or ideology of extremism has been spread to 80% of the Muslim population, but not all of them agree with it.”

When I read that, my bull**** detector went full-tilt. I have seen and heard this “fact” be trumpeted around, that “80% of the mosques are Saudi funded,” without any actual hard evidence…except the word of a few “experts” and and some random Sufi Sheikh.

Later on, he states again that “it is estimated that as many as 80% of mosques in America are Saudi funded.” Estimated by who? And are you sure this is exactly 80%? No, because in the article Spencer says: “as many as…” So, it could be 10%, or 76%, or 3%. And to back up this 80% figure, he quotes a 700 Club article that repeats this same “fact.” And we know how much the 700 Club loves Islam!

This claim that 80% of American mosques are Saudi funded is a lie, plain and simple. Spencer has done this before, claiming that “as many as 75 percent of the imprisoned women in Pakistan are, in fact, behind bars for the crime of being a victim of rape.” Again, no evidence whatsoever to back up such an outrageous claim.

Hardly a scholarly study, but, hey, this is Robert Spencer we are talking about: if one Muslim somewhere does or says something that backs up his fantastical claims, he posits this is “definitive proof,” claiming that everyone else is lying to you.

In response to Myth #5: “Mosques lead to homegrown terrorism,” Spencer writes this:

All right, so some mosques promote “radical extremism,” and some don’t, and since some don’t, mosques should not be “feared as incubators of terrorist indoctrination,” despite the fact that “alienated young Muslims” might “turn away from the peaceful path advocated by their elders in America’s mosques” in their rage over “Islamophobia.”

Funny how no amount of rage would ever lead me to blow myself up in a crowded restaurant. But that’s just me.

You know what, Mr. Spencer, the vast majority of Muslims would never blow themselves up in a crowded restaurant either, no matter how much rage they may have as well. Of course, he will never say that. Yet, lest we forget, Robert Spencer did promote a genocidal video on his website, produced by a group responsible for ethnic violence against Muslims. He has also supported the call for the annihilation of Pakistan. And he also called for a new Crusade.

Yet, let us show Mr. Spencer what real scholarship looks like.  A study was conduced Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and the University of North Carolina, supported by a grant from the Department of Justice, that found:

Contrary to Spencer’s contention, there has been increased Anti-Muslim Bias. Since 9/11, relatively low numbers of American Muslims have been radicalized, and that it is a limited, though serious, problem. Various practices of Muslim-American communities actually prevent radicalization, such as:

  • Public and private denunciations of terrorism and violence
  • Self-policing
  • Community building
  • Political engagement
  • Identity politics

In fact, the study suggested that mosques were a deterrent against, not promoter of, radicalization among American Muslims.

So, as is clear, when presented with facts that dispute his anti-Islamic fantasies, Robert Spencer resorts to obfuscation. Like I said, he just “can’t handle the truth.”

Dry Run was a False Alarm, JihadWatch won’t backtrack on calling it terrorism

Two men were arrested after their plane landed in Holland, the speculation was that they were doing a dry run for a terrorist organization. However no proof was advanced and just today the two men were let go.

When this story broke out JihadWatch’s Marisol treated it as though it was a proven case of terrorism.

First she asked the question,

“Just your garden-variety Dutchmen gone wrong? Wooden-shoe bombers?”

and then she answers it simply,

“No.”

Will we hear an apology or at least an acceptance of the fact that JihadWatch was being purposefully deceptive? No. This is par for the course on JihadWatch, when anything remotely relating to Islam and Muslims comes up in the news and implicates Muslims in violence they push it as Jihad or terrorism related. When they are proven wrong they either ignore it or sheepishly shrug it off.

Two Men Arrested on United Flight on Terror Concerns Freed Without Charges

Dutch prosecutors have let go two Yemeni men who were initially detained over concerns of a possible terror “dry run,” they said Wednesday.

Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi and Hezam al Murisi were arrested during a United Flight from Chicago to Amsterdam Monday. They were released without charges.

American law enforcement officials say their initial concerns about a possible terror “dry run” involving the two eased, in part because they have learned the men’s abrupt change in flights resulted from them missing their original flight.

“These two passengers have not been charged with any crime in the United States and we caution you against jumping to any conclusions,” said a statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday afternoon.

Al Soofi began his trip in Birmingham, Alabama and al Murisi started from Memphis, Tennessee.

Prominent Rabbi Calls For the Elimination of Palestinians – Where is Robert Spencer?

Ha’aretz reporter Anshel Pfeffer reported on the remarks of prominent Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who said in his weekly radio address:

“May our enemies and haters come to an end. May Abu Mazen [Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas] and all those wicked men be lost from the earth. May God smite them with the plague of pestilence, including all those Palestinians.

Wow. He prayed to God for pestilence to afflict “all those Palestinians.” Pfeffer continued:

No better, no worse than previous utterances by the venerable rabbi, 90 in two weeks and still going strong. He has said similar things over the years about Arabs and other non-Jews, singling out for particular attention not only their leaders, but also some Israeli Jewish ones, including the present prime minister.

Yet, this time was different, because Israeli and Palestininan leaders are currently engaged in peace talks with the goal of reaching a final settlement within one year. Thus, his remarks were widely condemned, as Pfeffer explains:

This week, though, the weekly sermon drew wider attention, thanks to its timing, on the eve of the Israeli-Palestinian summit in Washington. So not only did the local Israeli media record his latest pearls of wisdom, with a couple of left-wing politicians issuing the standard condemnations, but the Palestinian leadership also responded angrily, the U.S. State Department denounced the “deeply offensive inflammatory statements,” and even such august bodies as the Anti-Defamation League and the Zionist Federation of Great Britain joined the chorus.

Yet, you know who’s silence has been deafening? Robert Spencer’s, of course!

There has been no such condemnation of the Rabbi’s comments against Palestinians. No condemnation of what appears to be the calling for genocide against an entire people by a very prominent Rabbi. No condemnation of quite inflammatory statements from a religious leader against another people.

Yet, what if he were Muslim? What if a Muslim cleric had recently said something similar about Jews? Spencer would have been all over it. He would have posted it on his blog and spread the contention that this is the true face of Islam, and not just a twisting of its tenes. Spencer would have been screaming, “Islamic Anti-Semitism!”

This is not to deny that such anti-Semitism does exist in the Muslim world, and some Muslim clerics have spewed forth horribly hateful things aginst Jews, Christians, and even other Muslims. Yet, rational people can see that these clerics and fanatics are an aberration, a mutation, and not the norm. Except, it seems, for Robert Spencer.

Robert Spencer and the FBI

Robert Spencer loves to flaunt and name drop his speeches to “officaldom,” it serves to legitimize his anti-Islam/anti-Muslim crusade. However, as we have copiously catalogued on our website, the chorus of those speaking out and exposing Spencer is growing larger every day. They include Conservatives as well as Liberals, from various groups across the nation.

Spencer used to regularly write on his blog about speaking in front of this security group or that security group. The truth is that those requests for Spencer’s speeches have decreased over the years, especially under the Obama administration (another reason for  the hate he and his buddy Pamela Geller direct towards Obama).

The fact that the FBI has erred so terribly in giving a voice to a bigot such as Spencer does not in the least legitimize Spencer as a trusted, objective or authoritative voice on Islam, terrorism or American Muslims. It just means that it has taken the FBI longer to realize what everyone is realizing, Spencer is a fraud, a Crusading (to use Andrew Sullivan’s term) Christianist bigot who sees Islam as the competition that must be eliminated.

It is only a matter of time before the FBI realizes that inviting Spencer to speak on Islam is akin to inviting David Duke to speak on the holocaust or a member of the KKK to speak about race relations in America. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Newsweek: “Stealth Jihad” is Paranoid Speak

Robert Spencer popularized the term “Stealth Jihad,” and some in the Conservative wing such as Newt Gingrich have ran with it and are using it all the time. As has been exposed on Loonwatch and other sites, “Stealth Jihad” is paranoid speak and just another anti-Muslim conspiracy theory.

Lisa Miller takes on this term in her recent article which no doubt will have Spencer, whose site is described as “a hyperventilating anti-terror blog,” in fits.

The Misinformants

By Lisa Miller

Here is the latest semantic assault from the party that brought you “Islamo-facism” (circa 2005) and “Axis of Evil” (2002). The term “stealth jihad” is suddenly voguish among politically ambitious right wingers who see President Obama’s approach to terrorism as insufficient. If it sounds like a phrase from a military-fantasy summer blockbuster, that’s on purpose: in its cartoonish bad-guy foreignness, “stealth jihad” attempts to make the terrorist threat broader and thus more nefarious than it already is. The only thing scarier than an invisible, homicidal, suicidal enemy with a taste for world domination is one who’s sneaking up on you. In the words of former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at a July speech at the American Enterprise Institute, “stealth jihad” is an effort “to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Sharia.”

The term wasn’t Gingrich’s invention. It’s the title of a two-year-old book by Robert Spencer, whose hyperventilating antiterror blog, Jihad Watch, is cited and circulated widely on the far right. But the recent vicious debate over the proposed community center and mosque near Ground Zero gives Gingrich an excuse to use “stealth jihad” and its variants frequently—not just at the AEI but in an interview with this magazine. (In an essay on the conservative Web site Human Events, he referred instead to “creeping sharia.”) Gingrich’s like-minded peers have seized on the language, too. “Muslim Brotherhood operatives, like [Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the center’s founder and leader] are extremely skilled at obscuring … their true agenda,” said Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Security Policy, on FOX’s Glenn Beck show. “It’s part of the stealth jihad.”
‘A Little Intolerant, But Good Reason To Be’ Protesters for and against the building of a Muslim community center near Ground Zero talk about their reasons for supporting or opposing the project.

Words matter, and if you say them often enough and with enough authority, they start to sound true—even if they’re not. Abdul Rauf, for instance, has no affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood and is an “operative” (another nefarious word) only in the sense that running a small, progressive interfaith nonprofit is an “operation.” As for his “stealth jihad,” it’s virtually impossible to imagine how such an event would—logistically—occur. Would the construction of an Islamic prayer site near Ground Zero inevitably lead American women to wake up one morning and find themselves veiled and confined to their homes? “The term is ever-so-slightly goofy,” says Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California, Berkeley. The paranoia conveyed by “stealth jihad” brings to mind the anticommunist campaigns of Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, Nunberg adds. Just as McCarthyites imagined a communist behind every lamppost, the word “stealth” conflates all Muslims with terrorists. In a stealth campaign you never know who your friends are.

Also, simply put, foreign words freak people out. “Jihad” and “Sharia” reinforce the sense among Americans that Muslims in general have an unfathomable world view. During World War II, formerly obscure words like “hara-kiri” and “kamikaze,” which suggested the “warlike ferocity” of the Japanese, became common parlance, Nunberg says. “There was this sense of being confronted with this hostile, alien culture.” The Japanese were “literally demonized,” he says.

Gingrich has already used the mosque debate to evoke many of America’s historic enemies, comparing Muslims indirectly with Nazis and communists and even the Japanese. “We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor,” he said on FOX recently.

But that is not true. Fourteen percent of Hawaiians call themselves ethnically Japanese, according to the U.S. Census, and dozens of Japanese temples stand near Pearl Harbor—as they have for decades. One of them, the Buddhist Aiea Hongwanji Mission, is less than half a mile away. “You can see Pearl Harbor from the roof, maybe. We’re really close,” says Wade Yamamoto, the temple’s treasurer. The temple allows people “to practice their religion from back home,” he says. Gingrich, a historian, might take a lesson here. After the attacks of Dec. 7, 1941, more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent—two thirds of them American citizens—were interned in camps in a shameful episode that later legislation called the result of “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” Last week, a New York City cab driver was stabbed for answering the question “Are you a Muslim?” in the affirmative. Our enemies are dangerous. Let’s be clear about who they are.

With Johannah Cornblatt