The increasingly ugly battle over a proposed Islamic center in downtown Manhattan is feeding anti-American extremism in the Muslim world, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
From the Monday article:
Islamic radicals are seizing on protests against a planned Islamic community center near Manhattan’s Ground Zero and anti-Muslim rhetoric elsewhere as a propaganda opportunity and are stepping up anti-U.S. chatter and threats on their websites.
One jihadist site vowed to conduct suicide bombings in Florida to avenge a threatened Koran burning, while others predicted an increase in terrorist recruits as a result of such actions.
“By Allah, the wars are heated and you Americans are the ones who…enflamed it,” says one such posting. “By Allah you will be the first to taste its flames.”
White House homeland security adviser John Brennan told reporters Friday that he had seen no evidence that the debate over the proposed Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, other mosque protests or the planned Koran burning had affected U.S. counterterrorism efforts. …
… Many opponents of the planned Muslim community center say they have no bias against Muslims but that putting the building so close to Ground Zero shows an insensitivity toward the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Controversy over the community center, which will contain a mosque and other facilities, has helped fan anti-Muslim rhetoric in the U.S. far from Lower Manhattan in recent weeks.
Jarret Brachman, director of Cronus Global, a security consulting firm, and author of the book Global Jihadism, said al Qaeda and other groups have long used imagery from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to recruit new members. But the U.S. position has been that those wars are not against Islam and that the U.S. has Muslim allies in the fight.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric in the U.S is different, since jihadists can use Americans’ words to make the case that the U.S. is indeed at war with Islam. The violent postings are not just on al Qaeda-linked websites but on prominent, mainstream Muslim chat forums, Mr. Brachman said.
“We are handing al Qaeda a propaganda coup, an absolute propaganda coup,” with the Islamic-center controversy, said Evan Kohlmann, an independent terrorism consultant at Flashpoint Partners who monitors jihadist websites.
And it’s not just the protests and blanket condemnation of Muslims. It’s also the outrages spreading across the country, like the “Burn a Koran Day” planned by of all things, a Florida church (imagine the reaction to a proposed “national burn a Bible” day…) not to mention the continued spreading of the falsehood that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, meant as a perjorative, by right wing talk radio.
This comes as only a handful of Democrats have spoken out in favor of the mosque, and even fewer Republicans (plus former Republican, Florida Governor Charlie Crist.)
Meanwhile, Mark Williams, most famous for his attacks on Shirley Sherrod, and his “colored letter to Lincoln,” is at the helm of both the anti-mosque cause, and something called the Conservative Party USA. On his site, he continues to spew hate-filled rhetoric about the president (who Williams insists is a Muslim) and to equate all Muslims with the Klan and Timothy McVeigh, and yet, he continues to be booked on CNN. Funny, that.