As part of Fox News' ongoing attack on Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and the Islamic cultural center in Lower Manhattan, Fox & Friends hosted Walid Shoebat, a self-professed “former terrorist” and born-again Christian, to smear Rauf as a supporter of terrorism. Shoebat has a history of making inflammatory remarks about Islam and President Obama, and some have questioned the veracity of Shoebat's claims about his “former terrorist” past.
Fox & Friends hosts Shoebat to attack Rauf
Fox & Friends hosts Shoebat to claim Rauf is doing “exactly what Al Qaeda wanted ... the establishment of an Islamic state.” In its latest attack on Rauf and the Islamic cultural center, Fox & Friends hosted Shoebat, identifying him as a “former PLO militant.” Shoebat claimed Rauf's past statements in the Arabic press show “straight support for terrorism” and asserted that “what Abdul Rauf did without an explosive act is exactly what Al Qaeda wanted, what Hezbollah wants, what Hamas wants -- and that is the establishment of an Islamic state.”
Shoebat has a history of outrageous and inflammatory claims
Shoebat has reportedly called Islam “the devil.” On June 26, Religion News Service reported that Shoebat “has called Islam 'the devil.' ”
Shoebat: “It is very clear that Obama is definitely a Muslim.” On September 10, 2008, Shoebat appeared on G. Gordon Liddy's radio show to spread falsehoods about Obama. Shoebat claimed that in Obama's speeches, he was “talking about the same kind of issues that CAIR, Council on American-Islamic Relations, would want to fight for, and that is fighting for the terrorist cause.” Shoebat later claimed: “No one is called Hussein unless he is Muslim. So it is very clear that Barack Hussein Obama is definitely a Muslim.” He added: “I haven't heard a really serious testimony of his Christian conversion. A Muslim who converts to Christianity, the first thing he does is denounces Islam. Has Barack Hussein Obama denounced Islam as a false religion?” Liddy responded: “No.”
Shoebat appeared on God's Learning Channel to bash Islam and Obama. In an online interview with God's Learning Channel, Shoebat made a series of unsupported, inflammatory claims about Islam and Obama. Among these were the claims that:
- Shoebat: Obama “bowed down” to the king of Saudi Arabia because he is African. Shoebat stated of Obama: “He is from a Nigerian stock, you know, he is an African. To meet with a king who is from an Arab 'pedigree' he would have to bow down. ... He is culturally Muslim. No doubt about it.” (12:50)
- Shoebat: Obama is a “combination between socialism and Islam.” Shoebat stated: “Obama is -- culturally grew up as a Muslim, and the whole world knows, Obama is a socialist, kind of 'communistic' views. His whole upbringing, you know, he's a combination between socialism and Islam. And you find them collaborating together quite well, because Islam and socialism have one thing in common: revolution.” (85:37)
- Shoebat: "[I]f Islam is not the Antichrist system, why do you think the devil wants to put a 'cultural Muslim' in the White House?" Shoebat said: “In fact, Obama is allowing [Rep.] Keith Ellison (D-MN) to entertain a hundred different applications of Muslim activists to work in the White House. ... The fox is entering into the henhouse. This is why I always argue, I say if Islam is not the Antichrist system, why do you think the devil wants to put a Muslim -- a 'cultural Muslim' in the White House?” (14:35)
- Shoebat: Obama is doing the bidding of the Islamists. Shoebat stated of Obama: “He is doing the bidding of the Islamists. Definitely, no doubt about it. It's very obvious what's happening. We've said that before the election.” (11:45)
Shoebat again suggests “the devil” had a hand in Obama's election. In a 2008 interview, Shoebat said: “This is why I like to argue with many Christians an interpretation of the Bible. If Islam is not playing the major role in Antichrist spirit, why do you think the devil wants to appoint somebody connected to Islam in the White House?”
Shoebat repeats “birther” arguments. In the same 2008 interview, Shoebat claimed Obama is ineligible to be president by calling his citizenship into question:
SHOEBAT: Barack Obama claims he is a citizen of the United States of America. His relatives in Kenya testify that they were there when he was born. His mother now, an American citizen, gave birth to him when she was 18 years old. Well, the law of this country, a girl must be 19 in order to give birth to someone who is an American citizen in a foreign country that could qualify to become -- to run for president. ... Even though the response from Obama's advocates -- advocacy group shows a birth certificate, there is no evidence in the hospital itself in Hawaii of a birth by the name of Barack Hussein Obama. So, it is a major issue.
Shoebat claims, “Islam could not defeat us by destroying the twin towers, but they were able to defeat us by sneaking in their man.” In his 2008 interview, Shoebat claimed: “This is probably the most dangerous situation that we would ever been. In other words, Islam could not defeat us by destroying the twin towers, but they were able to defeat us by sneaking in their man.”
Shoebat suggests the reason Obama supports reproductive rights is because “Islamists” want Americans to “kill their own children.” In Shoebat's 2008 interview, when asked about Obama's stance on abortion, he claimed: “Of course [he supports abortion] because there is nothing better Islamists want to do than have Americans kill their own children. So it's not a problem for him.”
Jerusalem Post raised questions about veracity of Shoebat's tale
Jerusalem Post: The bank Shoebat claims to have bombed said it had no record of the attack. The Jerusalem Post published an article in March 2008 pointing out inconsistencies in Shoebat's story. Among these are the claim that Shoebat is a former terrorist:
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 damage.
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 bomb.”)
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.
On April 9, 2008, Shoebat posted a response to the Jerusalem Post's article, claiming the article ignored evidence that he was telling the truth. Shoebat's op-ed did not offer any evidence to rebut the claims made, but he did say the accusation that he never bombed Bank Leumi “will be proven false.”
Jerusalem Post raised questions about Shoebat's “charity.” From the Jerusalem Post article:
[T]he 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.
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 topexecutivegreetings.com/shoebat.
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.
New York Times: “Speakers at Academy Said to Make False Claims.” In a February 2008 article, The New York Times reported that "[t]he Air Force Academy was criticized by Muslim and religious freedom organizations for playing host on Wednesday to three speakers who critics say are evangelical Christians falsely claiming to be former Muslim terrorists," including Shoebat. The Times further reported:
The Air Force Academy was criticized by Muslim and religious freedom organizations for playing host on Wednesday to three speakers who critics say are evangelical Christians falsely claiming to be former Muslim terrorists.
Muslim organizations objected to the fact that no other perspective about Islam was offered, saying that the three speakers -- Mr. Anani, Kamal Saleem and Walid Shoebat --habitually paint Muslims as inherently violent. All were born in the Middle East but Mr. Saleem and Mr. Shoebat are now American citizens, while Mr. Anani has Canadian citizenship.
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.
Arab-American civil rights organizations question 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.
Even anti-Muslim blogger Debbie Schlussel says Shoebat isn't credible. In a September 16, 2008, post, conservative blogger Debbie Schlussel called Shoebat “Sean Hannity's fake terrorist.” Schlussel wrote: “Years ago, when I first heard of Walid Shoebat -- the man who claims to have been a Palestinian Islamic terrorist -- I liked his story. Since then, I praised him in more than one entry on this site. That was a mistake.” Schlussel wrote: “I simply didn't find Shoebat credible. And his behavior toward me is that of an unstable, insecure man who is upset that his shaky claims are being doubted.” She added:
Mr. Shoebat took it upon himself -- despite my praise of him on this site -- to engage in a pattern of behavior that spanned plagiarism and obscene verbal abuse to the non-stop barrage of harassing messages he sent me over the last two days under a fake name, “Sandra Medina.”
Media Matters noted that Schlussel asked in 2006 if Obama should be president “when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?” She recently claimed that Rima Fakih won the Miss USA pageant because of a “politically correct, Islamo-pandering climate” in America. And following the shootings at Fort Hood, Schlussel wrote:
And, oh, yeah, think of Major Malik Nadal Hasan (and all of the other Muslim American traitorous soldiers in the U.S. military who've shot their fellow soldiers up and killed them or otherwise helped the enemy), whenever you hear about how Muslims serve their country in the U.S. military.
Well, actually, they do serve “their country” in the U.S. military. And their country is Dar Al-Islam and greater Koranistan.
“It's Islamic terrorism, stupid. Wait, that's repetitive. It's Islam, stupid.”