Anti-Muslim bigot Walid Shoebat, brought to you by U.S. taxpayers

Late last year, Walid Shoebat, a self-styled “expert” on Islamic extremism, reportedly told public safety personnel attending a Las Vegas anti-terrorism conference that the way to solve the threat posed by terrorists was to “kill them…including the children.” 

And on May 11, despite criticism of the Las Vegas speech, Shoebat, who continues to tout his credentials as an “ex-terrorist” in the Palestine Liberation Organization despite serious questions about his purported biography, was welcomed to a similar place.  He delivered a keynote address to more public employees who attended the second annual South Dakota Homeland Security Conference held in Rapid City–a conference entirely funded by federal tax money.  The topic was “Jihad in America.”

David Montgomery of the Rapid City Journal reported on the speech:

Walid Shoebat, who says he was a former terrorist in the Palestine Liberation Organization before converting to Christianity, said that Americans should focus on what he called the “culture of terrorism” among Muslims rather than “only the ones who carry out the explosive act.”

Shoebat said closet supporters of terrorism exist throughout the Muslim community in mosques, community groups and in the U.S. armed forces.
“You’ve been infiltrated at all levels,” Shoebat said. “Are all Muslims who interpret for the U.S. military terrorists? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean you play Russian roulette.”

Shoebat’s appearance was paid for by a federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security as part of the second annual South Dakota Homeland Security Conference. He also spoke at the first conference last year in Sioux Falls.

Shoebat was invited for a second time to the conference because the speech was highly popular among attendees, Jim Carpenter, the state’s director of homeland security, told Montgomery.  “The critiques and evaluations that came back highly recommended that he come back again…We acted on those, and that’s why he came back.”
But even more alarmingly, Shoebat, described by religion writer Richard Bartholomew as “a pseudo-expert on terrorism…[who] teaches that Obama is a secret Muslim and that the Bible has prophesised a Muslim anti-Christ,” is only the tip of an anti-Muslim iceberg being funded by taxpayers.  Author and journalist Chris Hedges recently reported that “much of this [anti-Muslim] indoctrination within the law enforcement community is funded under two grant programs for training—the State Homeland Security Program and Urban Areas Security Initiative—which made $1.67 billion available to states in 2010.”

Since September 11, the federal government has poured money into fighting terrorism.  But some of this money has gone to pay for public employee attendance at seminars and trainings that feature crude propaganda about Islam.  The speakers at these trainings, like Shoebat, also often push a far-right agenda when it comes to the Israel/Palestine conflict.  For example, on his website, Shoebat claims that “the Arab refugees are being used as pawns’ to create a terror breeding ground, as a form of aggression against Israel.”

Shoebat and others like him preach bigoted tropes about Islam across the country at similar conferences paid for with taxpayer money.  The trend has continued despite more public scrutiny in the form of investigations published by the Washington Post and a March 29 letter from top senators in the Senate’s Homeland Security committee.  The letter, authored by Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, expressed concern about “state and local law enforcement agencies…being trained by individuals who not only do not understand the ideology of violent Islamist extremism but also cast aspersions on a wide swath of ordinary Americans merely because of their religious affiliation.”

The Senate letter came after the publication of a comprehensive report by the Political Research Associates that documented how “public servants are regularly presented with misleading, inflammatory, and dangerous information about the nature of the terror threat.”

“What we are documenting here is the institutionalization of these views in a critical part of our government—those who have the power to monitor, extract, arrest and interrogate people,” Thom Cincotta, the author of the report, told me in a recent interview published in AlterNet.  “This isn’t the type of country we want to be.  We want to embrace our diversity and build ties with the Muslim-American community.” 

But despite the increase in public scrutiny, and demands from the Council on American-Islamic Relations  to drop Shoebat from the South Dakota conference, the Shoebat show went on.

The scrutiny of Shoebat was met with a shrug from Carpenter, the state’s director of homeland security.  He told the Rapid City Journal that he doesn’t think that “we should be complacent in any way…Sometimes it takes folks to wake us up a little bit.”  But in reality, Shoebat and others like him let law enforcement go to sleep on the real work of counter-terrorism.

5 responses to “Anti-Muslim bigot Walid Shoebat, brought to you by U.S. taxpayers

  1. You should think about shopping an op-ed to LA Times and some other papers.

  2. Shoebat is the biggest ignorant idiot in the world. He’s like an Arab Tom Friedman.

  3. Shoebat long since exposed as a fraud:

    Jerusalem Post
    Mar 30, 2008
    The Palestinian ‘terrorist’ turned Zionist

    When he was 16, says Walid Shoebat, he was recruited
    by a PLO operative by the name of Mahmoud al-Mughrabi
    to carry out an attack on a branch of Bank Leumi in

    At six in the evening he was supposed to detonate a
    bomb in the doorway of the bank. But when he saw a
    group of Arab children playing nearby, he says, his
    conscience was pricked and he threw the bomb onto the
    roof of the bank instead, where it exploded causing no

    This is the story that Shoebat, who converted from
    Islam to Christianity in 1993 and has lived in the
    United States since the late 1970s, has told on tours
    around the US and Europe since 9/11 opened the West’s
    public consciousness to the dangers of Islamic

    Shoebat’s Web site says his is an assumed name, used
    to protect him from reprisal attacks by his former
    terror chiefs, whom he says have put a $10 million
    price on his head.

    Shoebat is sometimes paid for his appearances, and he
    also solicits donations to a Walid Shoebat Foundation
    to help fund this work and to “fight for the Jewish

    The BBC, Fox News and CNN have all presented Shoebat
    as a terrorist turned peacemaker, interviewing him as
    someone uniquely capable of providing insight into the
    terrorist mindset.

    Now he and two other former extremists are set to
    appear along with US Senator Joe Lieberman, Ambassador
    to the US Sallai Meridor and other notables at an
    annual “Christians United For Israel” conference in
    Washington in July.

    The three “ex-terrorists” have appeared previously at
    Harvard and Columbia universities and, most recently,
    at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, in February,
    at a conference whose findings, the organizers said,
    would be circulated at the Pentagon and among members
    of Congress and other influential figures.

    Last year, Shoebat spoke to the BattleCry Christian
    gathering in San Francisco, which drew a reported
    22,000 evangelical teenagers to what the San Francisco
    Chronicle described as “a mix of pep rally, rock
    concert and church service.”

    The paper described Shoebat as a self-proclaimed
    “former Islamic terrorist” who said that Islam was a
    “satanic cult” and who told the crowd how he
    eventually accepted Jesus into his heart.

    However, Shoebat’s claim to have bombed Bank Leumi in
    Bethlehem is rejected by members of his family who
    still live in the area, and Bank Leumi says it has no
    record of such an attack ever taking place.

    His relatives, members of the Shoebat family, are
    mystified by the notion of “Walid Shoebat” being an
    assumed name. And the Walid Shoebat Foundation’s
    working process is less than transparent, with
    Shoebat’s claim that it is registered as a charity in
    the state of Pennsylvania being denied by the
    Pennsylvania State Attorney’s Office.

    Shoebat’s claim to have been a terrorist rests on his
    account of the purported bombing of Bank Leumi. But
    after checking its files, the bank said it had no
    record of an attack on its Bethlehem branch anywhere
    in the relevant 1977-79 period.

    Shoebat told The Jerusalem Post that this could be
    because the bank building was robustly protected with
    steel and that the attack may have caused little

    Asked whether word of the bombing made the news at the
    time, he said, “I don’t know. I didn’t read the papers
    because I was in hiding for the next three days.” (In
    2004, he had told Britain’s Sunday Telegraph: “I was
    terribly relieved when I heard on the news later that
    evening that no one had been hurt or killed by my

    Shoebat could not immediately recall the year, or even
    the time of year, of the purported bombing when
    talking to the Post by phone from the US. After
    wavering, he finally settled for the summer of 1977.

    The Sunday Telegraph described Shoebat as a man who
    “for much of his life… was eager to commit acts of
    terrorism for the sake of his soul and the Palestinian

    In that interview he described how he and his peers
    were indoctrinated as children “to believe that the
    fires of hell were an ever-present reality. We were
    all terrified of burning in hell when we died… The
    teachers told us that the only way we could certainly
    avoid that fate was to die in a martyrdom operation –
    to die for Islam.”

    But an uncle and a cousin of Shoebat, who still live
    in Beit Sahur in the Bethlehem area, where Shoebat
    grew up, said that Shoebat’s education was rather mild
    ideologically, and that religion did not play a
    dominant role.

    The uncle, interviewed at his home, said he remembered
    little about his nephew, because Walid left for
    America at the age of 16, and because his American
    mother always kept a distance from the rest of the
    family. The uncle and his wife both said firmly that
    there was no attack on Bank Leumi.

    When questioned on this discrepancy, Shoebat was
    adamant that he did carry out such a bombing, and that
    his relatives deny it to cover up for another cousin
    who was with him during the attack and still lives in

    Shoebat evinced no particular surprise that his family
    could be tracked down simply by asking Beit Sahur
    locals where they lived, even though his Internet site
    claims that his is an assumed name.

    Shoebat describes his conversion to Christianity as a
    transformation “from hate to love.” He told the Post
    that he believes “in a Greater Israel that includes
    Judea and Samaria, and by this I mean a Jewish state.”

    He argued that Israel should retake the Gaza Strip and
    rehouse Jews there, regarding Gaza as Jewish by right.
    “If a Jew has no right to Gaza, then he has no right
    to Jaffa or Haifa either,” he said.

    He advocates that the government of Greater Israel
    introduce a law providing for the exiling of anybody
    who denies its right to exist, “even if they were born

    He has little sympathy for the PLO or Hamas. “The
    Palestinians have not met a single demand from
    Israel,” he said, and added, “Both the PLO and Hamas
    have not given up the goal of destroying Israel.”

    “The Jews are not aware of the true threat,” Shoebat
    said. “They are still fighting dead Nazis. It is easy
    to fight dead people. But they don’t have the will to
    fight the living Nazis, the Islamic radicals.”

    He told the Post he had set up his Walid Shoebat
    Foundation to educate Americans as to why the US
    should support Israel. Shoebat said the foundation had
    reached out to over 450 million people. He said it
    held events where he and others like him – whom he
    called “ex-terrorists” who have become Zionists –
    spoke about their views to Jewish, Christian and
    secular audiences.

    A New York Times report last month on the Air Force
    Academy event, headlined “Speakers at Academy Said to
    Make False Claims,” noted that “Academic professors
    and others who have heard the three men speak in the
    United States and Canada said some of their stories
    border on the fantastic, like Mr. Saleem’s account of
    how, as a child, he infiltrated Israel to plant bombs
    via a network of tunnels underneath the Golan Heights.
    No such incidents have been reported, the academic
    experts said. They also question how three middle-aged
    men who claim they were recruited as teenagers or
    younger could have been steeped in the violent
    religious ideology that only became prevalent in the
    late 1980s.”

    The Times quoted Prof. Douglas Howard, who teaches the
    history of the modern Middle East at Calvin College in
    Grand Rapids, Michigan, as saying after he heard
    Saleem speak last November at the college that he
    thought the three were connected to several major
    Christian evangelical organizations.

    “It was just an old time gospel hour: ‘Jesus can
    change your life, he changed mine,'” Howard said.

    The professor told the Times that his doubts about the
    authenticity of the three grew after he heard stories
    like that of the Golan Heights tunnels, “as well as
    something on Mr. Saleem’s Web site along the lines
    that he was descended from the grand wazir of Islam.
    The grand wazir of Islam is a nonsensical term.”

    The newspaper said Arab-American civil rights
    organizations have questioned “why, at a time when the
    United States government has vigorously moved to jail
    or at least deport anyone with a known terrorist
    connection, the three men, if they are telling the
    truth, are allowed to circulate freely.”

    A spokesman for the FBI, the paper reported, said
    there were no warrants for their arrest.

    The Times said the three men were to be paid $13,000
    for the Air Force Academy event.

    Visitors to Shoebat’s Internet site are encouraged to
    make a donation to his foundation to enable him to
    disseminate his message. However, a notice on the page
    states that for “security reasons,” the money will not
    be debited to his foundation, but rather to a company
    called Top Executive Media. The name Top Executive
    Media is used by a greetings card firm from
    Pennsylvania called Top Executive Greetings, a company
    with an annual turnover of $500,000. When one makes a
    donation through the Shoebat Internet site, the Web
    address changes to

    This seems to be the only active page for the company;
    its homepage is blank.

    Asked by the Post whether the Walid Shoebat Foundation
    is a registered charity, Shoebat replied that it is
    registered in Pennsylvania.

    The Pennsylvania State Attorney’s office said it had
    no record of a charity registered under this name.

    Questioned further, Shoebat said it was registered
    under a different name, but that he was not aware of
    the details, which are handled by his manager.

    “I remain separate to the running of the charity so
    that I am not constrained by church rules,” he
    explained, adding that the organization’s connection
    to certain churches meant it would be difficult for
    him to speak to secular audiences if he became too
    involved in running it.

    Dr. Joel Fishman, of the Allegany County Law Library
    in Pennsylvania, expressed doubts about this donation
    process. If the money were being given to a registered
    charity, the charity would have to make annual reports
    to the state and federal government on how it was
    being spent, he noted.

    Shoebat insisted donations were not being misused,
    however. “I survive by being an author,” he said. “I
    only get paid for being an author. All the money that
    is donated gets put back into events.”

    If the Bank Leumi bombing claim is unfounded, it is
    unclear why Shoebat would have wanted to manufacture a
    terrorist past. True or not, however, it has plainly
    brought him some prominence and provided him with a
    means to speak in favor of Israel and be paid for
    doing so.



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