News / USA

    Radical Islamists Try to Exploit Islamophobia

    The plan to build an Islamic center in New York City near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks has sparked a backlash of opposition.  Other manifestations of anti-Muslim sentiment have recently sprung up elsewhere as well. 

    Counterterrorism analysts who monitor jihadist Internet chat rooms and websites say that there is modest but growing chatter in those forums about the opposition to the New York City Islamic center plan.

    Evan Kohlmann, senior partner of the New York-based security consulting firm Flashpoint Global Partners, says radical Islamists see a propaganda and recruitment opportunity in the New York mosque controversy as well as other manifestations of anti-Muslim feeling.

    "The reaction is, at least on the part of extremists, fairly gleeful - that America is playing into our hands, that America is revealing its ugly face, and that even if it doesn't further radicalize people in the Middle East, there's no doubt that it will radicalize a kind of a key constituency that al-Qaida and other extremists are seeking to covet, seeking to court, which is the small number of homegrown extremists here in the United States," Kohlmann said.

    Al-Qaida and allied groups view American Muslims as a potentially valuable asset because they can mount attacks from within the United States.  Army Major Nidal Hassan, the accused Fort Hood shooter, and Faisal Shahzad, who tried unsuccessfully to set off a bomb in New York City's Times Square, are both American citizens whom investigators believe were drawn into radical Islam.

    In its message of violent global jihad, al-Qaida rails against U.S. support of Israel and what it calls apostate regimes in the Middle East.  But Brian Fishman, a terrorism analyst at the New America Foundation, says American-born radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen, is now honing the recruitment message more directly for American Muslims.

    "That message, that broad jihadi message, doesn't seem to be resonating tremendously well with American Muslims.  But what I worry about is that a guy like Anwar al-Awlaki has better insight into what will work here.  And his message has been a little bit different over the last six to nine months," Fisherman explains. "It has included all of those general themes.  But it also discusses this idea that the West is turning on you, America is coming to get you, you won't be safe there for long, you have to fight back now."

    Some Americans voicing anti-Muslim hate messages are providing even more ammunition for the Islamic radicals.  Terry Jones, a fundamentalist Christian clergyman, calls Islam a religion of the devil and has pledged to hold a communal burning of Korans, the Muslim holy book, at his Gainesville, Florida church on Sept. 11.  Analysts say Jones' pronouncements have drawn even more chatter and threats of violence in jihadist chat rooms than the New York controversy.  

    Brian Fishman says that, unfortunately, the extremist views of people like Terry Jones draw more media attention than the opposition to the hatemongering. "There are 15 or 16 other churches in Florida, or in Gainesville where this is going on, that are going to do readings from the Koran that day and do sort of interfaith stuff as a response and say, 'you know what? This is not what Americans believe, this is what one group believes,' Fisherman said. "Part of the problem is that there are these people out there doing really hateful things.  The second problem, though, is that those hateful things tend to get more attention than the responses to them."

    Evan Kohlmann says each instance of hate-mongering plays into al-Alwaki's strategy of trying to radicalize moderate American Muslims. "When you see some of the rhetoric that is taking place, whether it is talking about burning a Koran or Islam being a devilish religion, this kind of rhetoric is extremely damaging," Kohlmann says, "and it does tend to push people like Nidal Hassan and Faisal Shahzad into doing things like what they've done, the Fort Hood massacre and the Times Square bombing.  So the risk here is that the level of rhetoric has become so poisonous that we could end up turning the very moderates we seek to bring into the fold against us."

    Counterterrorism analysts say there is grave potential for protests and attacks that may be even more violent than those that erupted after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.  Depictions of Mohammad are forbidden in Islam.  As Evan Kohlmann put it, if cartoons can provoke that kind of violence, what would a burn the Koran day ignite?

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora