Two very disparate commentators, Ali Abunimah and Alan Dershowitz, both raised serious questions over the weekend about a claim that has been made over and over about the bombing of the Boston Marathon: namely, that this was an act of terrorism. Dershowitz was on BBC Radio on Saturday and, citing the lack of knowledge about motive, said (at the 3:15 mark): “It’s not even clear under the federal terrorist statutes that it qualifies as an act of terrorism.” Abunimah wrote a superb analysis of whether the bombing fits the US government’s definition of “terrorism”, noting that “absolutely no evidence has emerged that the Boston bombing suspects acted ‘in furtherance of political or social objectives’” or that their alleged act was ‘intended to influence or instigate a course of action that furthers a political or social goal.’” Even a former CIA Deputy Director, Phillip Mudd, said on Fox News on Sunday that at this point the bombing seems more like a common crime than an act of terrorism.
Over the last two years, the US has witnessed at least three other episodes of mass, indiscriminate violence that killed more people than the Boston bombings did: the Tucson shooting by Jared Loughner in which 19 people (including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords) were shot, six of whom died; the Aurora movie theater shooting by James Holmes in which 70 people were shot, 12 of whom died; and the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting by Adam Lanza in which 26 people (20 of whom were children) were shot and killed. The word “terrorism” was almost never used to describe that indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people, and none of the perpetrators of those attacks was charged with terrorism-related crimes. A decade earlier, two high school seniors in Colorado, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, used guns and bombs to murder 12 students and a teacher, and almost nobody called that “terrorism” either.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers accused of bombing the Boston Marathon, angrily disrupted a January talk at a Cambridge mosque when a speaker compared the Prophet Mohammed and the peace activist Martin Luther King Jr., the second time in recent months that Tsarnaev’s radical theology collided with mainstream Muslim faith at a public religious talk.
In the days since the suspects were identified last week, a picture has emerged of 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev — the elder of the two brothers, who was killed Friday in the battle with police — as an increasingly militant immigrant, whom family members described as unhappy and mean.
His brother Dzhokhar, 19, captured Friday night, is in serious condition and under heavy guard at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He has a gunshot wound to his throat, said US Senator Dan Coats, a Republican on the Select Intelligence Committee, on ABC’s “This Week.’’
New details on the brothers’ fight with police suggests Tamerlan was killed when his brother ran him over, dragging Tamerlan underneath his car in his bid to escape.
In disrupting the talk in January at the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s shouted at a speaker: “You are a Kafir” – a nonbeliever, according to Yusufi Vali, a spokesman for the mosque. Tsarnaev went on to say the speaker was contaminating people’s minds, and accused him of being a hypocrite.
DETROIT (AP) — A Christian legal advocacy group has claimed in a federal lawsuit that officials in a western Michigan city violated the rights of a self-proclaimed former terrorist by interrupting him during an event on free speech at a local high school.
The civil suit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids by the Thomas More Law Center. Besides Allegan officials, the defendants include leaders of a Muslim civil rights organization that asked the city to cancel the event.
According to the suit, a speech given Jan. 28 by Kamal Saleem at Allegan High School was stopped by police acting on a letter opposing Saleem’s visit. The letter was sent several days earlier by Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The suit also said that police were told of possible — and unconfirmed — threats against Saleem, said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for the Ann Arbor-based Thomas More center. Thompson said shutting down the meeting violated Saleem’s right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
Part of the “Constituting Michigan — Founding Principles Act” event’s purpose was to show “the internal threat to America posed by radical Muslims” and Shariah, the Islamic religious law, according to the lawsuit.
FULL ARTICLE FROM MLIVE
A few years ago, the respected Cambridge scholar T J Winter, also known by his Muslim name of Abdal Hakim Murad, gave a fascinating lecture to Humanities staff and students at the University of Leicester. The title was “Islam and the threat of the West”, turning on its head the more usual – then and now – “Islam and the threat to the West”.
It was a novel approach which, in a nutshell, illustrated that, historically, aggression has been directed more from Europe to the Muslim world than the other way round. His evidence for such a view was impeccably sourced.
I thought about Abdal Hakim’s talk this morning as I read the reports coming in of the dreadful bombing and shooting in Norway wherein, of course, there was speculation that these two events were “Islamic-terror related”. No doubt we will learn more over the coming days, but the early signs are, in fact, that the perpetrator was a “blond, blue-eyed Norwegian” with “political traits towards the right, and anti-Muslim views”. Not surprisingly, the man’s intentions were neither linked to these “traits”, nor to his postings on “websites with Christian fundamentalist tendencies”. Any influence “remains to be seen”; echoes of Oklahoma 1995.
Interestingly, this criminal is described by one unnamed Norwegian official as a “madman”. He may well be, but this is one way that the motivations for heinous crimes can be airbrushed out of the story before they have the chance to take hold in the popular imagination.
FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA
In the immediate wake of the bombing and mass shooting inNorway that left at least 92 people dead Friday, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg declared that it was too early to say whether terrorism was involved.
Some interpreted the statement to mean it was unclear whether Muslim extremists were behind the attack.
Right-wing websites quickly pointed the finger at “jihadis,” and Pamela Geller, publisher of the website Atlas Shrugs and executive director of Stop Islamization of America, wrote on her site: “You can ignore jihad, but you cannot avoid the consequences of ignoring jihad.”
Counter-terrorism experts soon weighed in, implicating Al Qaeda.
Then Anders Behring Breivik, described by police as a “right-wing Christian fundamentalist,” was arrested in connection with the attacks.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – Osama bin Laden wore the mantle of a religious leader. He looked the part and talked a good game, but his theology was a radical departure from traditional orthodox Islam.
The pitch to join al Qaeda did not start with an invitation to put on a suicide vest but, like other religious splinter groups and cults, took advantage of disenfranchisement and poverty.
Bin Laden had no official religious training but developed his own theology of Islam.
“We don’t know that (bin Laden) was ever exposed to orthodox Islamic teachings,” said Ebrahim Moosa, a professor of religion and Islamic studies at Duke University.
The writing of ideologues in the Muslim Brotherhood influenced bin Laden heavily, Moosa said.
“He takes scriptural imperatives at their face value and believes this is the only instruction and command God has given him – unmediated by history, unmediated by understanding, unmediated by human experience. Now that’s a difference between Muslim orthodoxy and what I would call uber- or hyperscripturalists,” Moosa said.
The vast majority of Islamic scholars and imams say the teaching of the Prophet Mohammed happened in historical context that needs to be understood when reading and interpreting the Quran.
FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN
A California man is in jail on a terrorism charge after he was arrested in Dearborn for allegedly trying to blow up the biggest mosque in metro Detroit, Dearborn officials said today.
The suspect was arrested in the parking lot of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn on Monday, while hundreds were inside the mosque that sits along Ford Road, police said. He came to the city because of its large Arab-American and Muslim population, police said.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DETROIT FREE PRESS
Reporting from Tunis, Tunisia —
In the mornings, barber Fadhi Ayari blasts recordings of Koranic verses from his shop’s stereo. But it’s just a habit, he explains as he turns down the volume. He says he rarely ventures to the mosque just across the street.
He laughs uneasily at the prospect of the long-outlawed Islamist party Nahda, led by exiled sheik Rachid Ghannouchi, rising to prominence in the new Tunisia. Ghannouchi arrived home Sunday after 22 years in exile in Britain to cheers from more than 1,000 supporters gathered at Tunis’ international airport.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES