By Robert Spencer
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The Fort Dix jihad plotters are guilty, and Muslim spokesmen in America are outraged – not at the plotters who have ostensibly "hijacked" their religion, but at the officials who secured the convictions.
They wanted to burst into Fort Dix and murder as many American soldiers as they could, but it was all a joke, you see: so said Mohamed Younes, president of the American Muslim Union. "I don’t think they actually mean to do anything," he asserted. "I think they were acting stupid, like they thought the whole thing was a joke. They don’t look like the type of people to do something like this."
Unfortunately, Associated Press reporter Wayne Parry doesn’t seem to have followed this up by asking Younes exactly what "the type of people to do something like this" actually do look like. It might have been interesting to see a Muslim leader in the United States engage in what could be regarded as "racial profiling," but it would, of course, have been far too politically incorrect for AP to print.
In any case, when one of the Fort Dix jihadists, Mohamad Shnewer, was in a particularly joking mood back in 2006, he showed a fellow plotter who turned out to be a government informant some DVD files: some featured Osama bin Laden calling Muslims to wage jihad warfare, and others contained the last will and testaments of some of the 9/11 hijackers. Oh, Shnewer, you kidder! Shnewer was ready to lay them in the aisles but good, saying of American soldiers at Fort Dix, "They are the ones, we are going to put bullets in their heads, Allah willing." Riotous!
One of the other plotters, Serdar Tatar, displayed a sense of comic timing that rivaled the side-splitting Shnewer’s when he told an FBI informant that he was ready to commit mass murder at Fort Dix: "I’m gonna do it….It doesn’t matter to me, whether I get locked up, arrested, or get taken away, it doesn’t matter. Or I die, doesn’t matter, I’m doing it in the name of Allah."
Muslim leaders others who were present at the trial were not pleased on Monday that these happy-go-lucky jokesters now face life in prison. Faten Shnewer, Mohamad Shnewer’s mother, said of the verdict: "It’s not right, it’s not justice." It was entrapment: the government "sent somebody to push him to say something; that’s it." Entrapment seemed to be the line of choice: Jim Sues of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), echoed Faten Shnewer’s lament: "Many people in the Muslim community will see this as a case of entrapment. From what I saw, there was a significant role played by the government informant." (Given CAIR’s taste for attempting to silence its critics by means of legal intimidation, Sues is aptly named, and faces a bright future in the organization.)
A former Muslim chaplain for the U.S. military and Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention, James Yee, expressed sorrow over the verdicts as well – not because of the potential loss of life at Fort Dix, but because the convictions would ruffle American Muslim feathers: "All of this doesn’t help build trust with the American Muslim community," he complained, "and that is vital if our law enforcement is going to fight terrorism. If anyone can improve security, it’s our community, but we need to be seen as trusted partners, not potential suspects." Yee knows what it’s like to be a suspect: in 2004 he was investigated for mishandling classified material at Guantanamo. The charges were dismissed in March 2004, but Yee was not exactly cleared: AP reported that "in dismissing the charges, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which operates the detention center, cited ‘national security concerns that would arise from the release of the evidence’ if the case proceeded." Not exactly a resounding affirmation of Yee’s clean hands.
In any case, it is useful to pause and consider how Muslim leaders could be reacting to the verdicts. Instead of hurling reckless charges of "entrapment," they could be taking the hard steps necessary to clean their own house. All these years now after 9/11, most Americans still have no idea that they need do any such housecleaning – even outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recently told USA Today that "what we’re confronting is an ideological conflict with an extremist world view that I don’t think is an accurate representative of Islam, but uses the language or hijacks Islam for an extremist agenda." Yet while Muslim and non-Muslim spokesmen have spilled oceans of ink since 9/11 asserting that Islam condemns "terrorism" and the killing of "innocents," without defining what is meant by either term, no one has ever produced any examples of authoritative and orthodox Islamic religious scholars rejecting, on Islamic grounds, jihad violence against non-Muslims; rejecting the idea that Sharia law should be instituted in the Muslim and non-Muslim world; and teaching the idea that non-Muslims and Muslims should live together indefinitely as equals.
Thus the Fort Dix verdicts give American Muslim groups who claim moderation to demonstrate the genuineness of the claim, or to be further exposed in the eyes of the public. Now is the time for law enforcement and government officials to call upon the Muslim community to institute comprehensive and inspectable programs teaching against the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism. If they don’t – and they won’t – one thing is certain: there will be more jihad plots like this one in America.
- Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His next book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is has just been released by Regnery Publishing.