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“The Real Muslim American Threat? It’s Against Us”: We’ve Reached An Ugly Place In America With Anti-Muslim Sentiment

There’s a growing threat in America involving Muslims. The FBI has even recently issued a warning to alert local law enforcement about it. But our politicians and media continue to ignore it.

The threat I’m speaking of is not “radical Islam,” as the right loves to call it. Rather I’m talking about the threat of “radical Americans” who are plotting to kill Muslim Americans and to stoke the flames of hate versus Muslims in hopes that others will be inspired to do just that.

Now some may be asking “What threat against Muslim Americans?” I can fully understand that reaction, given how little our media cover plots to kill Muslims. It appears to many in the media, Muslim lives simply don’t matter.

So let me bring you up to speed on what is going in the world of “radical Americans.” Just last Friday, Glendon Scott Crawford was convicted in federal court of trying to develop a “weapon of mass destruction” to kill Muslims in his upstate New York community near Saratoga Springs. Scott, an industrial mechanic at General Electric, was constructing a “death X-ray machine” to kill Muslims because he viewed them as the “enemies of Israel,” per the indictment.

Just so it’s clear, no one has claimed that Crawford was mentally ill. He was simply a man who so despised Muslims that he wanted to use his electrical skills to kill them with radiation. He had even successfully tested, with FBI undercover agents, the remote trigger for the device. Thankfully, he will be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Do I even have to say how much media coverage we would’ve seen if a Muslim in America had been arrested plotting to use a weapon of mass destruction against Christians?

But Crawford is far from alone. A few months ago I wrote about Robert Doggart, a Tennessee Christian minister who had planned to travel to upstate New York with other men to wage, in essence, a holy war against Muslims. His plot included using assault rifles, explosives, and even a machete to cut the Muslims “to shreds.”

Doggart had also communicated with sympathetic members of militias in other Southern states. Doggart, who was arrested by the FBI days before he was planning to head to New York for reconnaissance, has been charged with solicitation to commit a civil rights violation and is facing up to 10 years in prison.

And it gets worse from there. In fact, the threat against Muslim Americans by radical Americans has escalated to the point that the FBI recently issued an alert titled “Militia Extremists Expand Target Sets To Include Muslims.” (PDF) This FBI warning notes that based on the evidence collected, it has “high confidence” that “domestic extremists” are planning violence against Muslim Americans.

The concern has reached the point to where the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) put out a press release just last week warning Muslims Americans to be especially vigilant. As CAIR noted, FBI sources indicated that militia groups have been conducting surveillance of Muslims in “diverse locations including Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Montana, New York, North and South Carolina, Utah, and Texas.

Astoundingly, we have even seen others—all white men in the South—trying to stoke more hate against Muslims by literally fabricating terror plots and claiming it was the work of Muslims. In July, Brett Downing, a National Guard member in Georgia, claimed that he found a note on his car windshield that read: “Dear American soldier, death to you coward women child killer and all the American military. Mohammad will show no mercy on you attacks will come full force death is to come to you.

As would be expected, this letter caused people in the community to become fearful of Muslims. However, it turned out that Downing wrote the letter himself and has now been charged with filing a false report.

And just a week ago, Jason Paul Smith, a West Virginia man, was arrested for claiming he was going to blow up the Statue of Liberty. However, when Smith called in the bomb threat, he identified himself as an ISIS terrorist named “Abdul Yasin.” (Smith is not Muslim.)

Yet these two are nothing when compared to Michael Sibley, a Georgia man and self-described “patriot” who planted a bomb in a park near his house a few months ago. In the backpack with the bomb, Sibley placed a Quran and other items he thought a Muslim would carry in the hopes of convincing the authorities that a Muslim had carried out the plot. Why? Well, he believes that “no one was paying attention to what was going on the world.

We have alarmingly reached an ugly place in America with anti-Muslim sentiment. And while Donald Trump has not targeted Muslims with his rhetoric (at least not yet), his fear mongering will no doubt embolden others to spew hate versus various minority groups, including Muslims. And worse, this type of divisive language can inspire violence as we saw last week in Boston when two men attacked a Latino homeless man. After the assault, one of the attackers told the police: “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.

Interestingly one of the two Boston attackers had also been convicted of a hate crime for assaulting a Muslim man shortly after 9/11. Thus again proving that bigots tend to hate more than just one minority group.

I would predict we will see even more plots to kill Muslims in America or at least attempts to gin up the hate toward the Muslim community. This, of course, makes ISIS ecstatic because the terror group would use any attacks on American Muslims as proof that the West hates Islam and that Muslims should join them.

I wish I could be more optimistic, but I’m a realist. My only hope is that our media starts covering these terror plots to make it clear that the threat of “radical Americans” is very real.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, August 27, 2015

August 28, 2015 Posted by | American Muslims, Domestic Terrorism, Militia Extremists | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Where’s The Fox News Panic?”: America Snores When Christian Terrorist Threatens To Massacre Muslims

Have you heard about the Christian terrorist Robert Doggart, who was plotting a violent attack against a Muslim-American community in New York state? Probably not, because as opposed to when U.S. law enforcement officials arrest a Muslim for planning a violent assault, they didn’t send out a press release or hold a press conference publicizing Doggart’s arrest.

So let me tell you about Doggart and his deadly plan to use guns and even a machete to attack American Muslims in upstate New York. Doggart, a 63-year-old Tennessee resident, is an ordained Christian minister in the Christian National Church. In 2014, he unsuccessfully ran for Congress as an independent, espousing far right-wing views.

But don’t dismiss Doggart as some crazed wingnut howling at the moon. He served in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, worked for 40 years in the electrical generation business, has a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from La Salle University, and claimed he had nine “committed” men working with him to carry out this attack.

No, Doggart can’t be dismissed as simply a loon; he’s a lethal threat. That is why Muhammad Matthew Gardner, the spokesman for the local Muslim community in the Islamberg, New York, community that was Doggart’s intended target, explained to me, “Our community has been traumatized.” Islamberg is a hamlet in upstate New York, right along the Pennsylvania border, that was founded in the 1980s by a group of Muslims who left New York City to escape racism, poverty, and crime. Gardner added, “Our community consists of veterans, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. We are true American patriots, unlike Doggart, who is not representative of Christianity, but more like the American Taliban.”

The criminal complaint against Doggart, filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tennessee, paints a bone-chilling picture of a plan to launch a violent military-style assault on Islamberg, home to about 200  predominately black Muslim Americans. Right-wing media outlets have in the past made outlandish claims about the town, which have been consistently debunked by local law enforcement.

Doggart came to the FBI’s attention via postings on social media and a confidential informant. Why attack these Muslims? Doggart’s own words highlight his motive being grounded in at least partially in his view of Christianity: “Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives. We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God.” Doggart continued, “We shall be Warriors who inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace.”

Doggart, who was also recorded via wiretaps speaking to militia members in Texas and South Carolina, didn’t mince words about his plans for the Muslims of Islamberg: “We will be cruel to them. And we will burn down their buildings [Referring to their mosque and school.] …and if anybody attempts to harm us in any way… we will take them down.”

He also detailed the weapons he would use in the attack, including an M-4 military assault rifle, armor-piercing ammunition, explosives, pistols, and a machete, because “If it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds.”

Doggart expressed a hope that he would survive the terror attack, but explained, “I understand that if it’s necessary to die [in this attack] then that’s a good way to die.”

Doggart planned to travel to Islamberg on April 11 to do some reconnaissance. However, the FBI arrested him on April 10, before he could depart. Doggart was charged with violating a federal statute that makes it a crime to damage or destroy any religious property (or attempt to do so) and to use interstate communication to plan to injure persons. Astoundingly, however, he was not charged with any terrorism-related crimes.

On April 24, Doggart entered into a plea agreement, pleading guilty to one count of making threats via the phone, and he will be fined up to $250,000 and spend as much as five years in prison pending a judge’s approval of the deal.

It goes without saying that if Doggart had been Muslim and had planned to kill Christians in America, we would have seen wall-to-wall media coverage. Fox News would have cut into its already-daily coverage of demonizing Muslims to do a special report really demonizing Muslims. And few can doubt that a Muslim would’ve been charged with terrorism-related crimes.

One big reason for the lack of media coverage was that neither the FBI nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office put out a press release about Doggart’s arrest. In contrast, the FBI office in Knoxville, the one that handled this investigation, has posted press releases for numerous other recent arrests, such as for drug crimes and robbery charges. (My calls to the FBI about this issue have not been returned.)

However, when a Muslim is arrested in a sting-type operation, as we saw recently in Brooklyn, the FBI touts that arrest to the media with a detailed press release. We have also seen U.S. attorneys hold press conferences to announce the arrest of Muslims, as we witnessed recently with the six Minnesota men charged with planning to join ISIS. But not here.

In fact, this incident would have likely been ignored but for the local Islamberg community reaching out to the media. They even posted a powerful photograph on social media of the children of the town sitting under a big banner that asked: “Why do you want to kill us Robert Doggart?”

But here’s the reality: This will likely not be the last time we hear about a planned attack on Muslim Americans by right-wing groups. Alarmingly, a recent poll found 55 percent of Americans hold anti-Muslim views, the highest numbers ever recorded.

Obviously the images of ISIS committing horrific actions has fueled this sentiment. But Republican politicians like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindhal claiming Muslim Americans want to create “no-go” zones, where Islamic law rules, and other Republicans alleging that Muslims aren’t loyal to America has ginned up the hate to levels that take some to the doorstep of violence.

And there’s another issue of great concern here. If Doggart had succeeded at his attack and slaughtered Muslims, ISIS would have been ecstatic. ISIS is hoping for these very types of attacks, which is why they release videos when they kill Christians. ISIS desperately wants Christians to attack Muslims in the West so that it makes ISIS’s recruitment pitch resonate more strongly with young Muslims.

Even though Doggart has been arrested, this case is far from over. As the Islamberg community’s spokesman explained, “We will not feel safe until he and his co-conspirators are behind bars.”

The FBI should be commended for its work in arresting Doggart before he could complete his terrorist plot. But the FBI needs to publicize these types of arrests the same way as when they arrest a Muslim on similar charges and also not hesitate in charging non-Muslims with terror-related crimes. That sends a clear message that the U.S. government is taking these incidents seriously and that Muslim lives matter. Plus, it serves as a powerful deterrent to the Doggarts of this country. This not only upholds our nation’s values, it protects all Americans by undermining ISIS’s sales pitch.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, May 18, 2015

May 21, 2015 Posted by | Christians, Muslims, Terrorism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Islamophobic Ballots And Bullets”: What Is It About Tennessee That’s Made It The American Capital Of Islamophobia?

I hope there’s not something strange in the water in the Fourth Congressional District of Tennessee. This is the place represented in the U.S. House by the Conservative From Hell, Scott DesJarlais, the hard-core antichoice Family Values man with a record of having sex with patients and encouraging wives and lovers to have abortions.

But now it turns out DesJarlais wasn’t the strangest person on the 4th district ballot in 2014: independent candidate Robert Doggart (he got six percent of the vote) has been arrested for conspiring to firebomb a Muslim center in New York. Here’s the report from Claire Wiseman of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:

Robert Doggart wanted to burn Islamberg to the ground.

In a plea agreement filed in federal court April 29, the Signal Mountain resident and former District 4 congressional candidate admitted he spent months gathering weapons and plotting an all-out assault on the small Muslim enclave in Delaware County, New York.

“We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace,” he wrote in one Facebook post.

Doggart’s plan seems to have been based on the fear that Islamberg residents were themselves planning a terrorist attack, though local law enforcement say no such plan exists. The town is the headquarters of Muslims of America.

It “must be utterly destroyed in order to get the attention of the American people,” Doggart wrote in a February Facebook post.

Federal agents became aware of Doggart’s plan in early 2015 and began surveillance. A local judge authorized a wiretap on March 15, according to a criminal complaint.

In recorded calls with a confidential source located in Texas, Doggart said he planned to travel to New York for “reconnaissance” in early April. He planned to check out the buildings he hoped to burn. But he told the source he would also bring his M-4 assault rifle with him “just in case,” according to the complaint.

I like this part:

He is facing a $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison after a plea to interstate communication of threats. He was put on pre-trial release two weeks ago after his attorneys told Magistrate Judge Susan K. Lee he had weaned himself off painkillers and stopped using alcohol while in the Hamilton County Jail.

Yeah, if there’s anything more dangerous than a regular old Islamophobic nut with shootin’ irons and kerosene, it’s a drugged-up, hootched-up Islamophobic nut with shootin’ irons and kerosene.

I don’t know what it is about Tennessee that’s made it the American capital of Islamophobia (a GOP primary in a district adjoining the 4th was almost completely dominated by hysteria about a mosque under construction a while back). But it’s not even funny any more.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 19, 2015

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Domestic Terrorism, Islamophobia, Tennessee | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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