From Wood TV, 27 January:
ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) – Rep. Dave Agema told 24 Hour News 8 he thinks Allegan’s police chief overreacted when he shut down an event the representative and a self-proclaimed former terrorist were both speaking at.
Allegan City Police Chief Rick Hoyer told 24 Hour News 8, he didn’t find out there was a bounty on the head of Kamal Saleem, until his speech at Allegan High School was already underway.
…Hoyer said Commissioner [Willis] Sage actually walked up to one of his officers during the event and told him that Saleem had a $25 million dollar bounty. That officer, a sergeant on the force, checked out the information with Saleem’s body guard. When the armed body guard confirmed it, telling police that Islamic terrorists who follow the teaching of the Quran that have been directed to behead Saleem, that’s when Hoyer said they took action.
Hoyer perhaps did misjudge the situation – but he found himself himself having to make a immediate decision on a matter of public safety based on information given to him at the last moment. It appears that Saleem was a victim of his own self-publicity; the obvious question is why, if the “$25 million” bounty really exists, Saleem is not under round-the-clock police guard, in the same way that Salman Rushdie was for many years.
The Thomas More Law Center has now put its own spin on the event in Allegan, as it announces a lawsuit:
Amid shouts of “What about free speech?” from the audience, the Allegan Police Department ordered the event shut-down. School officials notified police that they had received a letter complaining about the event from Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI). The letter asked the school to disallow the event despite an existing contract. CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism funding trial in U. S. history, U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation.
…TMLC’s federal lawsuit was brought on behalf of State Representative David Agema; a chapter leader of ACT! for America, Elizabeth Griffin; Allegan County Commissioner, Willis Sage; and Mark Gurley, one of the event sponsors.
In fact, the TMLC’s lawsuit stinks of bad faith – and here’s why:
193. Defendants’ pretextual claim that the free speech event needed to be shut down subverts the true cause for the closing of the free speech event: complying with the demands of hecklers, evidenced by the letter of Defendants CAIR, People For the American Way, Walid, and Keegan, and valuing the heckler’s veto over Constitutional freedoms of Plaintiffs.
…225. Defendants CAIR, [Dawud] Walid, People For the American Way, and [Michael] Keegan intentionally interfered with the Contract by sending a letter to Defendant [Kevin] Harness requesting that the School District breach its Contract with Plaintiffs.
226. Defendants CAIR, Walid, People For the American Way, and Keegan improperly interfered with the Contract.
First, there is no evidence that Hoyer acted on any “letter” that was sent to the School District – why would he? And if so, why would he have allowed the event to get underway in the first place? But more substantively, the TMLC is seeking to punish groups and individuals for daring to contact the School District with their concerns about Saleem. Neither CAIR nor PFAW had any decision-making power over whether the event went ahead – the only reason they are included in the lawsuit is because TMLC wishes to suppress free speech while pretending to uphold it. It’s a SLAPP, and utter humbug.
In fact, there are very good public interest reasons for interested parties and concerned individuals to have contacted the School District – and PFAW’s liberal political perspective or troubling allegations about some of CAIR’s associations are irrelevant. Saleem presents himself as an ex-terrorist turned Christian whistleblower, when in fact his back-story is extremely dubious, and his claim to be an expert on Islam cannot be taken seriously. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, he spoke a Christian Right/conservative conflab called The Awakening 2012; as Right Wing Watch has documented, he used the occasion (standing alongside Frank Gaffney) to allege that when Obama appears to pledge allegiance to the flag, he holds his hand in a special way which shows that in reality he is praying to Allah. Saleem also stated that Roe vs Wade was part of a plot to establish shariah, and that plans to reform immigration law involves “sending money to Hamas” in order to import Muslims, with the result “this world will become past tense and one day we’ll be wearing ragheads”. Such extravagances speak for themselves – and demonstrate that Saleem’s presence degrades the dignity any educational setting.
In 2010, Saleem was debunked in a piece published in Books & Culture, a sister publication of the evangelical Christianity Today. According to the article’s author, Doug Howard:
I first encountered Kamal Saleem when he appeared at Calvin College in November 2007. A look at his website told me immediately that he was not who he said he was. The signature of his deception was his statement that “in my family was the Grand Wazir of Islam.” The term is ridiculous, a spurious title meant to mislead the innocent with an aura of authority.
…In The Blood of Lambs, Kamal Saleem writes, “I wanted to be like Bond.” In these pages he is Bond, James Bond, in size 6X. He gets those emphatic rivals, the PLO and the Muslim Brotherhood, both to recruit him. He recalls the intricate details of raids he carried out at age seven. Abu Jihad himself teaches him how to use an AK-47. He is shown off by Yasser Arafat as a model warrior. In Libya at age 14 he has Muammar Qaddafi gushing in gratitude. In Iraq, he waves to Saddam Hussein… Even if one were disposed to give these entertaining claims the benefit of the doubt, the book’s frequent mistakes give the reader pause. The Islamic umma does not mean one world government, and it is not “coming.” The PLO was a secular organization even though Yasser Arafat prayed and quoted the Qur’an.
Further details appear in a recent article in Mother Jones:
Saleem claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has put a $25 million bounty on his head, and that there have been attempts to earn it: After a 2007 event in Chino Hills, California, he writes in his book, he returned to his Holiday Inn to find his room ransacked and a band of dangerous Middle Easterners on his trail. Saleem describes calling the police to alert them to an assassination attempt. Local law enforcement, however, has no record of any such incident.
The same article contains a quote from someone who knew Saleem in the USA before he was famous:
…[Wally] Winter recalls his former roommate as a devout Muslim whose yarns often lapsed into wild exaggeration. “He could sell swampland in Louisiana,” Winter says. “I really do not believe the story about the terrorism. I totally believe that he would make up something like that to either make money or become well known.”
The City of Allegan, meanwhile, has issued a statement, as reported by MLive:
Attorney Scott Smith, representing Allegan, said in a statement that the city has not been served with the lawsuit, but he reviewed it this morning. It names the city, police chief, police officers, school officials and two advocacy groups as defendants.
…”This lawsuit is disappointing in many ways,” Smith wrote. “It is based on conjecture, logical fallacies, and, more disappointingly, factual inaccuracies. The plaintiffs did not even spell one of the defendants’ names correctly. It is disappointing that the lawsuit wrongly imputes motives to the police officers.”
He said he was disappointed that the lawsuit was filed. He said the city cooperated with Thomas More as it sought information about the Jan. 26 event.
“The City quickly provided the requested information and offered to address any other questions or concerns the Thomas More Law Center or its client might have. But, without any further inquiries or any attempts to address the plaintiffs’ concerns, a lawsuit was filed. If, as seems to be alleged by the complaint, its sole purpose is to ensure the defendants respect First Amendment rights, a lawsuit was unnecessary.”
UPDATE: I note that one of the the plaintiffs, Mark Gurley, is a pastor (at the Healing Rooms of Grand Rapids), and he is a member Rick Joyner’s Christian Right group the Oak Initiative. He’s also a birther.
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