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Collins, Lieberman Want Answers From DHS Over Anti-Muslim Counterterror Training

TPM MUCKRAKER

Ryan J. Reilly | April 4, 2011, 10:50AM

Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) are requesting information on the federal funding of counterterrorism training programs following a report on trainers who espouse anti-Muslim views during training sessions for local cops.

Collins and Lieberman wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that they “are concerned with recent reports that state and local law enforcement agencies are 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.”

“Media reports cite some of these self-appointed counterterrorism training experts as engaging in vitriolic diatribes and making assertions such as ‘Islam is a highly violent radical religion’ and that if someone has ‘different spellings of a name… That’s probable cause to take them in,'” Collins and Lieberman wrote, citing the story in the Washington Monthly. “These comments, of course, are neither factually accurate nor consistent with our nation’s fundamental values and are not made by adequately trained personnel. It appears, however, that some of these so-called experts have neither the academic nor operational background in the material about which they train.”

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September 11 Anniversary Stained By Politics And Prejudice

Huff Post-  First Posted: 09-11-10 09:23 AM   |   Updated: 09-11-10 09:23 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Politics threatened to overshadow a day of mourning Saturday for nearly 3,000 Sept. 11 victims amid a polarizing national debate over a planned mosque blocks from the site where Islamic extremists attacked America.

Chants of thousands of sign-waving protesters both for and against the planned Islamic center were expected after — and perhaps during — a ceremony normally known for somber church bells ringing and a sad litany of families reading their lost loved ones’ names.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were to attend separate services in Washington and Shanksville, Pa., for the victims of hijacked jetliners that hit the Pentagon and a rural field in 2001.

But the rallies planned in New York embroiled victims’ family members in a feud over whether to play politics on the ninth anniversary of the attacks.

Nancy Nee, whose firefighter brother was killed at the World Trade Center, is bitterly opposed to the Park51 proposed mosque and Islamic community center near ground zero. But she didn’t plan to join other family members at an anti-mosque rally hours after the anniversary ceremony.

“I just wanted to be as at peace with everything that’s going on as I possibly can,” Nee said. Even nine years later, she said, her brother George Cain’s death “is still very raw. … And I just don’t have it in me to be protesting and arguing, with anger in my heart and in my head.”

Jim Riches planned to pay respects at ground zero to his firefighter son, Jimmy, then rally.
“My son can’t speak anymore. He’s been murdered by Muslims. I intend to voice my opinion against the location of this mosque,” Riches said. “If someone wants to go home, that’s their right. I have the right to go there.”

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9/11 and Compassion: We Need It Now More Than Ever

Huff Post- Karen Armstrong
Former Roman Catholic nun; Author, ‘Through the Narrow Gate’

Posted: September 10, 2010 08:24 PM

The anniversary of 9/11 reminds us why we need the Charter for Compassion. It should be an annual summons to compassionate action. The need is especially apparent this year. In the United States, we have witnessed an upsurge of anti-Muslim feeling that violates the core values of that nation. The controversy surrounding the community centre near Ground Zero, planned by our dear friends Imam Feisal Rauf and Daisy Khan (who were among the earliest supporters and partners of the Charter) has inspired rhetoric that shames us all. And now we have the prospect of the Quran burning proposed by a Christian pastor, who seems to have forgotten that Jesus taught his followers to love those they regard as enemies, to respond to evil with good, and to turn the other cheek when attacked, and who died forgiving his executioners.

If we want to preserve our humanity, we must make the compassionate voice of religion and morality a vibrant and dynamic force in our polarised world. We can no longer afford the barbarism of hatred, contempt and disgust. At the same time as we are so perilously divided, we are drawn together electronically, economically and politically more closely than ever before. A Quran burning, whenever it is held (it appears to have been delayed for questionable reasons by the pastor behind it), would endanger American troops in Afghanistan and send shock waves of distress throughout the Muslim world. In an age when, increasingly, small groups will have powers of destruction that were previously the preserve only of the nation-state, respect and compassion are now crucial for our very survival. We have to learn to make a place for the other in our minds and hearts; any ideology that inspires hatred, exclusion and division is failing the test of our time. Hatred breeds more hatred, violence more violence. It is time to break this vicious cycle.

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Quran Burning CANCELED: Dove World Outreach’s Terry Jones Drops Offending ‘Stunt’

AP / Huffington Post First Posted: 09- 9-10 05:06 PM   |   Updated: 09- 9-10 05:55 PM

The leader of a small Florida church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy says he is canceling plans to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11.

Pastor Terry Jones claimed Thursday that he decided to cancel his protest because the leader of a planned Islamic Center near Ground Zero has agreed to move its controversial location.

However, Imam Rauf, the leader of the proposed center did not make a deal and has never talked to Pastor Terry Jones, Park51 officials tell Huffington Post, adding that they are open to all solutions and that the proposed Islamic cultural center is open to dialogue and reconciliation with the community in lower Manhattan.

Jones’ plans to burn Islam’s holiest text Saturday sparked an international outcry.

President Barack Obama, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan and several Christian leaders had urged Jones to reconsider his plans. They said his actions would endanger U.S. soldiers and provide a strong recruitment tool for Islamic extremists. Jones’ protest also drew criticism from religious and political leaders from across the Muslim world.

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Afghans wave banners saying "Quran is our law, Islam is our religion" during a demonstration against the United States, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 6, 2010.

Petraeus Condemns Dove World Outreach’s Plan To Burn Qurans: ‘It Could Endanger Troops’

AP / Huffington Post First Posted: 09- 6-10 05:22 PM   |   Updated: 09- 6-10 06:18 PM

General David Petraeus has condemned a Florida church’s plans to burn Qurans this week, warning that the scene “could endanger troops” in Afghanistan.

Petraeus told The Wall Street Journal Monday that Pastor Terry Jones’ September 11 stunt could ignite violence from Taliban forces already versed in harnessing American headlines as propaganda:

“It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort,” Gen. Petraeus said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.”

Hundreds of Afghans railed against the United States Monday and called for President Barack Obama’s death during protests about Dove World Outreach Center’s plans to burn the Islamic holy book on Sept. 11.

The crowd in Kabul, numbering as many as 500, chanted “Long live Islam” and “Death to America” as they listened to fiery speeches from members of parliament, provincial council deputies, and Islamic clerics who criticized the U.S. and demanded the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. Some threw rocks when a U.S. military convoy passed, but speakers shouted at them to stop and told police to arrest anyone who disobeyed.

The Journal reports that military leaders are worried that protests will spread beyond Kabul.

The Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center announced plans to burn copies of the Quran on church grounds to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but has been denied a permit to set a bonfire. The church, which made headlines last year after distributing T-shirts that said “Islam is of the Devil,” has vowed to proceed with the burning.

“We know this is not just the decision of a church. It is the decision of the president and the entire United States,” said Abdul Shakoor, an 18-year-old high school student who said he joined the protest after hearing neighborhood gossip about the Quran burning.

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Everyone, it seems, has a party line about who the good Muslims and bad Muslims are. Sadly, many of the dichotomies distort as much as they reveal, and use simple labels based on superficial preconceptions and over-simplifications, says Meena Sharify-Funk.

Middle East Online, Oct 30, 2009

Waterloo, Canada – Ever since the tragic events of 9/11, the diverse voices claiming to speak with authority about Islam have become increasingly cacophonous. Few contemporary topics are more controversial than that of how to interpret Islamic practices and beliefs.

In the West as well as in the Muslim world, interpreting Islam has become a virtual cottage industry. The ranks of interpreters are incredibly diverse, including counter-terrorism experts, policymakers and journalists, as well as religious studies academics, political scientists, Muslim ulama (Islamic legal scholars), Muslim feminists in the West, and people speaking on behalf of various religious groups. Interest in how Islam is understood and practiced has expanded dramatically in recent years, and it’s not always clear whom to listen to amongst the din.

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Explosive Allegations: Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

By Jeremy Scahill, The Nation. Posted August 4, 2009.

Sworn statements filed in Federal Court also allege that Blackwater founder Erik Prince launched a “crusade” to eliminate Muslims and Islam.

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-U.S. Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting “illegal” or “unlawful” weapons into the country on Prince’s private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the U.S. State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater’s motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the U.S. State Department.

The former employee, identified in the court documents as “John Doe #2,” is a former member of Blackwater’s management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, “it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct.” John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he “fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration.” He also alleges, “On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince’s employ, Mr. Prince’s management has personally threatened me with death and violence.”

In a separate sworn statement, the former U.S. marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has “learned from my Blackwater colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information about Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious circumstances.” Identified as “John Doe #1,” he says he “joined Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other American government personnel.” It is not clear if Doe #1 is still working with the company as he states he is “scheduled to deploy in the immediate future to Iraq.” Like Doe #2, he states that he fears “violence” against him for “submitting this Declaration.” No further details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.

“Mr. Prince feared, and continues to fear, that the federal authorities will detect and prosecute his various criminal deeds,” states Doe #2. “On more than one occasion, Mr. Prince and his top managers gave orders to destroy emails and other documents. Many incriminating videotapes, documents and emails have been shredded and destroyed.”

The Nation cannot independently verify the identities of the two individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide sworn testimony in these civil cases. Both individuals state that they have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors conducting a criminal inquiry into Blackwater.

“It’s a pending investigation, so we cannot comment on any matters in front of a Grand Jury or if a Grand Jury even exists on these matters,” John Roth, the spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia, told The Nation. “It would be a crime if we did that.” Asked specifically about whether there is a criminal investigation into Prince regarding the murder allegations and other charges, Roth said: “We would not be able to comment on what we are or are not doing in regards to any possible investigation involving an uncharged individual.”

Erik Prince fancies himself as a Christian crusader ridding the world of its Muslim population.
Apparently, Blackwater has been killing former employees who have shared information about this criminal enterprise.

MORE HERE

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By Valerie Elverton Dixon | Sojourners.net, May 30, 2009

William Faulkner once said: “The past is not dead.  In fact, it’s not even past.”  We often think about time and history as a straight line leading from the past, running through the present, heading into the future. With this conceptualization, the past is past and gone.  However, there is another way to think about time.  Tree time.  When we cut down a tree, the rings of the stump are concentric circles of time. The first year exists at the center and each succeeding year surrounds it.

So it is with the meeting of Christianity and Islam on the battle fields of Afghanistan and Iraq.  The historical center of the present conflict is the history of the Crusades.  Many in the Muslim world consider the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan as another Crusade.  The Crusades were wars between Christians and Muslims, Christians and Pagans, Christians and Christians over four centuries.  It was a tragic time when armies of the state fought to promote a religious cause.  Crusaders travelled far from home as warriors and pilgrims, warriors and penitents, warriors as walls to stall the spread of Islam.  They won and lost battles.  They destroyed and plundered and raped. They were sometimes brutally massacred when the Muslims won on a particular day.

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