WaPo Notes “Self-Described Experts” Advising Law Enforcement on Islam

The Washington Post has just published a lengthy investigation by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin into the “vast domestic intelligence apparatus” which has sprung up since 9/11. It includes a section on the various outside “experts” who are consulted by law enforcement agencies, and there’s an interesting quote from Charles Allen, described as “a longtime senior CIA official who then led the DHS’s intelligence office until 2009”:

“The CIA used to train analysts forever before they graduated to be a real analyst… Today we take former law enforcement officers and we call them intelligence officers, and that’s not right, because they have not received any training on intelligence analysis.”

Priest and Arkin add:

In their desire to learn more about terrorism, many departments are hiring their own trainers. Some are self-described experts whose extremist views are considered inaccurate and harmful by the FBI and others in the intelligence community.

In particular, the authors note the recent Shariah: The Threat to America report produced by the Center for Security Policy:

The book’s co-authors include such notables as former CIA director R. James Woolsey and former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, along with the center’s director, a longtime activist. They write that most mosques in the United States already have been radicalized, that most Muslim social organizations are fronts for violent jihadists and that Muslims who practice sharia law seek to impose it in this country.

Frank Gaffney Jr., director of the center, said his team has spoken widely, including to many law enforcement forums.

“Members of our team have been involved in training programs for several years now, many of which have been focused on local law enforcement intelligence, homeland security, state police, National Guard units and the like,” Gaffney said. “We’re seeing a considerable ramping-up of interest in getting this kind of training.”

Government terrorism experts call the views expressed in the center’s book inaccurate and counterproductive. They say the DHS should increase its training of local police, using teachers who have evidence-based viewpoints.

Also mentioned by Priest and Arkin are a certain Ramon Montijo and a certain Lacy Craig; however, another figure discussed is well-known to this blog:

Walid Shoebat, a onetime Muslim who converted to Christianity, also lectures to local police. He too believes that most Muslims seek to impose sharia law in the United States. To prevent this, he said in an interview, he warns officers that “you need to look at the entire pool of Muslims in a community.”

When Shoebat spoke to the first annual South Dakota Fusion Center Conference in Sioux Falls this June, he told them to monitor Muslim student groups and local mosques and, if possible, tap their phones. “You can find out a lot of information that way,” he said.

(State Fusion Centers, Priest and Arkin explain, “bring together and analyze information from various agencies within a state”)

The use of Shoebat in particular should ring alarm bells. By his own account, he was raised in an Islamist household in the West Bank in the 1970s and he once planted a bomb at a bank for the PLO; there are a number of question-marks around his story, but even if it were true it would not make him an expert on Islam or on terrorism. As I’ve blogged previously, Shoebat claims that Obama is a Muslim, trained in extremism in a madrassa in Indonesia, and – in presentations to churches – that the Bible predicts the rise of a Muslim Anti-Christ. Boykin similarly mixes uncompromising antipathy to Islam with apocalyptic Christian beliefs, as I blogged here.

Chip Berlet has some more background to Shoebat’s involvement in this kind of training:

“Kill them…including the children.”

That’s how to solve the threat of militant Muslims?

This quote is from what one official involved in homeland security said was the theme of a speech by Walid Shoebat at an anti-terrorism training in Las Vegas in October 2010.

…George D. Little, Director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Studies (ICJS) at Texas State University, in San Marcos, TX, also attended the Shoebat speech at the Las Vegas training. When first contacted by e-mail after the ICTOA conference, Little responded “I believe there are good Muslims like there are bad ones just like there are good Christians and bad ones.” Little, however, dodged repeated question about what he specifically thought of the content of Shoebat’s speech, and now refuses to comment altogether.

Shoebat is popular in Texas, having helped organize an anti-Islamic event near Fort Hood; spoken at an evangelical church; and conducted a statewide law enforcement training, “Preparing Law Enforcement Executives for the Future, co-sponsored by the state’s Attorney General, Greg Abbott. Shoebat is also periodically interviewed as an expert on Islam on Fox News and is extensively quoted by the right-wing conspiracy website, World Net Daily.

Another Las Vegas conference attendee, Edwin Uries [sic – actually “Edwin Urie“, or “Ed Urie”] praised Mr. Shoebat’s ICTOA speech. “From my perspective, Mr. Shoebat’s presentation was so much on the mark, so specific, and so correct that I was concerned that he would be the target of those about whom he spoke. Maybe the objections are merely a part of that,” wrote Uries in an e-mail. Uries is an adjunct professor at Henley-Putnam University and a specialist in counterrorism.

…Shoebat’s speech in Las Vegas was sponsored by the International Counter Terrorism Officers Association (ICTOA). Michael Riker, president of the ICTOA, said that “Numerous public safety personnel along with military personnel heard from Walid Shoebat” at the event.

As Chip notes, I have also written on this: I blogged on Shoebat and  the ICTOA here, and I’ve done posts on on various other strange “private intelligence” organisations: the Griffith Colson Intelligence Service, which has links with the ICTOA (see here and here); Security Solutions International (which provides the ICTOA’s official magazine); and an organisation called IC-HUMINT, the director of which is linked with Veteran Defenders of America.

In turn, the IC-HUMINT used to be linked to the now-defunct VIGIL Network, which was run from south London by Dominic Wightman. Wightman does not share the uncompromising anti-Islam views of some of his US counterparts, but he is a mountebank: a formerly bankrupted businessman whom I know from personal experience to lack personal integrity, and whose idea of research and activism is manipulation and the creation of bogus documents. Wightman and VIGIL got access to police in the UK, thanks to help from an attention-seeking MP named Patrick Mercer; Mercer now knows the truth about him, but is keeping a low profile on the subject.

Alan Lake Defends Rabbi Nachum Shifren

Alan Lake’s mysterious sidekick Kinana has stopped by with a comment urging us to visit Lake’s “4 Freedoms” site, where there is supposedly a corrective to one of my blog posts:

a fuller rebuttal to this mis-transcription and twisting of words has been written by Alan Lake and can be found here:

Lake – the businessman who advises the English Defence League and who has links with European anti-Islam activists – takes issue with my account of California Rabbi Nachum Shifren‘s visit to London in October, where he addressed an EDL rally outside the Israeli Embassy. Shifren went on to have an argument with a Muslim interlocutor at Speakers’ Corner, in which he expressed anti-gay views and his belief that the only reason that “fags” should not be executed is because the court in Jerusalem which is supposed to pass sentence no longer exists.

It seemed to me that this might not reflect very well either on him or on the EDL, but Lake has now presented a series of counter-arguments. These are along the lines that: (a) the questioner is a Muslim, and he also thinks that homosexuals should be killed (what that has to do with the Rabbi’s views is not explained, although Lake warns us not to “plead Argumentum ad Hominem, because it doesn’t work in this case”); (b) my transcription included ellipses, which means that it is “not accurate” (in what way he does not specify); and (c) that Shifren only said what he did because he had been “trapped by an argumentation trick”. This leads into some particularly contorted and pompous pseudo-analysis to show that Shifren didn’t mean his words:

The viewer must distinguish between a person’s cause and their tactics.  I could perform the same trick on a Muslim that hasn’t been taught it, at Speakers Corner.  This exchange shows a property of the person, who is on his first visit to HPC, not a reflection of his underlying arguments.  What matters is not petty point scoring of individual contests, but the strength or not of the principal arguments.

Lake further complains:

Finally we have this comment: “It’s not clear with which strand of Jewish fundamentalism Shifren identifies – he may think that nothing can be done to restore the law court until God intervenes to do so, or he may take the view that humans should work actively to create the kind of society he outlines above.” This is purely mischievous speculation. The damage, as far as RB is concerned, will have already been done, and the dunderheads of the left will march off into the sunset chanting that the Rabbi is a gay killer. All one can do is sigh.

However, Lake doesn’t have an actual new information that would put my “purely mischievous speculation” to bed; but the fact is that a strand of the Israeli far-right does indeed believe that a theocratic society – with a restored Jerusalem court – could be brought into existence.

Predictably, there’s also the claim that I must be one of the “Islamic sympathisers and appeasers”, but Lake also seeks to beat me off with a new accusation:

RB implies that RS [Rabbi Shifren] was taken away because his “handlers” were worried about his unprepared comments.  I wish RB would not masturbate in public, like that.  The protector of RS was worried that he was getting surrounded by a large and hostile crowd, and one bigger than he could handle.

And thus, with a flick of the wrist:

A dialogue which shows that the Jewish protagonist will never hurt any gays is spun on its head to show the opposite, to keep the leftists pre-conceptions in place…

Lake also tells us that he is a “secularist”; one wonders, therefore, why he previously posted approvingly a Christian fundamentalist attack on the theory of evolution.

Incidentally, Lake is also friendly with the cyber-thug Charlie Flowers; Flowers affects to believe that I’m part of a Communist conspiracy because I’ve criticised him for engaging in on-line harassment.

Here’s the video again, so people can judge for themselves:

Daily Mail and Police on “Bizarre Religious Ritual” and Girl’s Murder

From the Daily Mail:

Religious ritual believed to be behind death of girl who was found with her heart cut out and other organs strewn round home

Neighbours of a mother arrested after her four-year-old daughter was killed as an apparent religious offering told how they heard screams from the family’s flat.

Nusayba Bharuchi’s corpse was found stabbed to death in the kitchen with her heart and other organs cut out and strewn around her flat and lying next to her mother, Shayna.

The 35-year-old woman was allegedly chanting verses of the Koran as her daughter’s disembowelled corpse lay next to her in the home in Clapton, East London.

The woman, believed to be from Somalia, had her MP3 on full blast as she listened to the Muslim holy book…

The headline has been changed from:

‘Mother cuts out heart of daughter, 4, as she listens to recording of Koran in ritual killing’

A Mirror report has a direct quote from the police:

A police source said: “It appears to be some sort of bizarre ritual killing.

“She was chanting passages of the Koran while listening to a recording of the text on her MP3 player.”

Naturally, the story has been picked by anti-Islam activists;  in the USA, Robert Spencer has a blog entry using the same original headline, minus the quotation marks that show that it’s an allegation rather than a proven fact. Says Spencer, sarcastically:

There is nothing in the Qur’an about cutting your daughter’s heart out. However, one wonders why the peaceful verses of the Book of Peace didn’t pacify this mother and deter her from this horrific murder.

Pamela Geller, meanwhile, hints that Muslims are to blame for the murder for having the Koran:

That is one hell of a book they got there.

However, the Mail‘s sensationalised report – as ever – requires some caution. Even Spencer concedes that ritual human sacrifice does not form any part of Islam, and I haven’t been able find any comparable reports from Somalia suggestive that a heterodox form of the religion might have played a role. Secondly, the woman’s partner and the police arrived after the killing. Although the police are not looking for anyone else, we don’t yet know for sure whether the mother was the killer, or, even if she was, whether she was listening to or reciting the Koran during the act itself. In any case, intelligent observers would more likely to see “mental illness” as “behind death of girl” rather than “religious ritual”.

The Mail’s headline recalls the notorious 2005 Evening Standard headline “Children Sacrificed in London Churches, Say Police“; I blogged on this here. The Daily Mail also stoked fears of an Islamic ritual killing last year, as I blogged here.

(Incidentally, Spencer never contradicted Rifqa Bary’s belief – fed to her by evangelical pastors – that her parents wished to kill her because it be would be an especially “great honour” for them to do so, since she was the the first Christian in her family for “150 generations”.)

BBC Documentary on Religion in the USA

The BBC recently ran a fascinating series of documentaries on the post-war USA, produced by Peter Molloy and entitled American Dream; unfortunately, they were not made available on the iPlayer for copyright reasons. The third part, directed and produced by Bill Treharne Jones, was called “One Nation Under God” and dealt with the subject of religion, covering various strands in Christianity and the 1960s counter-culture. The programme contained some fascinating footage, but its greatest value was in the interviews it contains.

Regarding Christianity, the programme begins with the evangelical revival of the 1950s and has input from Pat Boone. Boone talked about his cameo role in The Greatest Story Ever Told:

To portray the angel in the tomb, that spoke the words I consider the most important words ever uttered, I consider that moment a highlight of my whole life and career.

Boone has fond memories of the 1950s:

there was a sense of destiny and that that was because of the blessings of God on our society… we were committed to trying to be a – quote – “Christian nation”.

We are then shown archive material of a drive-in church service, and an extract from the film Salesman, which was a 1968 documentary about a pair of door-to-door Catholic Bible salesmen from Massachusetts working in New England and Florida; the BBC catches up with one of the film’s original subjects, James Baker, who recalled that he considered he was doing good, since the Bible taught “the children good morals”.

The programme also includes an interview with a craggy-faced Bob Richards (born 1926), “the vaulting vicar” who won a gold medal for pole vaulting at the 1952 Olympics. Richards is a devotee of Norman Vincent Peale, and his account is a near-perfect summary of a major strand in American Christianity:

I had three goals that I wanted to achieve. One was to win an Olympic gold medal. The second one was to get a PhD in religion or philosophy. And the third one was to own a big ranch in Texas, or anywhere… When you realise what God wants you to be, that’s power… You don’t understand the American psyche unless you realise that capitalism and religion are together. [Peale] related religion to success in building cars, in building corporations – US steel – he gave people motivation to become great. If you want a scripture for it, “Let your light so shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.” Well, that’s the scriptural basis, but its practical religion, practical religion.

Singing “I have joy, joy, joy, down in my heart” (1), Richards adds:

You’re happy, you’re peaceful, you’re right with God.

Following his Olympic success, Richards did adverts for a cereal called Wheaties.

Pentecostals also feature, and the programme-makers talk to Gary Pridemore, who as a child in the 1950s was filmed being healed of a degenerative hip disease by Oral Roberts. Says Pridemore:

I remember that a kind of an aura, a kind of like a light. It was not a bright light like a floodlight, it was kind of a soft cloudlike light, but it was bright.

We also see footage of Fannie Bell Chapman; she was an African-American gospel performer and healer, who would make a remarkable series of strange hand gestures as she healed the sick – she explained in an archive interview (from 1975) that this was untwisting disease in someone. Chapman’s daughter Doll Moody appears in the programme, as well as an associate of Chapman’s named Millie Witherspoon. Also representing Pentecostalism in the programme was Tim McCoy, a member of the serpent-handling Jolo Signs Following Church (I recall seeing McCoy chatting with Ruby Wax in a another programme on the church a few years ago). McCoy showed off his serpent bites, including one from a cottonmouth that had permanently frozen a joint in his finger. He explained that the first time he handled a serpent it “felt like velvet”, and that being bitten

made me stronger spiritually, it made me more of a believer in the word and in God. I was living the American dream back then. I was being able to go to the church of my choice.

The documentary also explores Christian Right activism: a chat show discussion between Boone and Hugh Hefner in which Boone defended the Puritans, and, when asked if he would allow his daughter to pose for Playboy, responded – to Hefner’s amusement – that he wouldn’t be able to prevent it but that she’d have “big red handmarks on her bottom”. Boone also talked about his anti-abortion activism, and there was a (mercifully) short clip of his song Let Me Live. Also discussed were Anita Bryant‘s campaigns against openly homosexual teachers; her “Save Our Children” campaign included the claim – now being echoed in Uganda – that children are “recruited by homosexuals”. Bryant discussed an incident in Des Moines, when an activist threw a cake in her face at a press conference: Bryant’s husband was there, and told the activist that they loved him and that they would pray for him. A be-caked Bryant began to pray, but choked up; she recalls, with some humour:

I just wasn’t in a mood to pray for anybody at that point. I think I was more angry with my husband than I was at anything…I think as a woman, as a wife, you want to be protected. You want to feel that someone has your blindside.

As an example of where the “American Dream” became the “American Nightmare” (an unhappy cliché), part of the programme covers the familiar story of Jonestown, with input from two survivors, Tim Carter and Leslie Wagner-Wilson.

The counter-culture part of the programme had interviews with various characters who now actually seem rather more dated than their evangelical rivals. First up was Michael McClure, a poet from North Beach who, Doctor Doolittle-like, created a “Beast language”; we are treated to some risible footage of him reciting poetry to some lions and roaring along with them. He recalls it was

One of the great and beautiful experiences of my life… it filled me with great joy.

What it filled the lions with is not discussed, although they were kept inside cages lest they be overly critical reviewers.

There’s also input from Virginia Gray Henry, who stayed with Timothy Leary at Millbrook; from Ken Babbs, whose “uncontrolled drug taking” definitely shows (LSD is a “can opener”, he explains); Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead (“we were having profound telepathic experiences every Saturday night”); the actor Peter Coyote; and two people involved with the Black Bear Ranch commune. One of these, Harriet Beinfield, explained that the commune was about holding the American dream up to what it was supposed to be, and we are treated to scenes of frolicking naked hippies. Coyote, who visited from time to time, judged it to be “simultaneously impressive, magnificent, and ridiculous”, although a man who spent his childhood there was less impressed. This was Aaron Marley, who smoked marijuana until the age 9 and who rebelled by getting a crew cut. He also repeatedly ran away, and he appears to have been traumatised by the experience; tearfully recalling one time he was adopted by travellers and abandoned, he judged that:

It’s neglect. Just plain simple neglect.

(1) Interestingly, Richards’ hymn has the same tune as a song about Tupperware which appears in another episode of the series, sung by Sylvia Boyd.

Why Iain Dale Should Stop Accusing Tim Ireland of Stalking

As has been widely reported, the UK Conservative blogger Iain Dale has announced his retirement from blogging to concentrate on other interests. Dale’s decision has provoked a good deal of media interest, including a piece on the BBC where he is quoted:

…The former Tory election candidate insists he is not being over-sensitive, and that everyone in politics has to accept a certain amount of rough and tumble, particularly if they are operating on the internet, but, he adds: “When you have people effectively stalking you or just writing the most libellous things about you it is not very pleasant.”

This is an obvious reference to the blogger Tim Ireland, whom Dale has accused of stalking him on numerous occasions. And while he only hints at this on the BBC, on Twitter he complains that Tim is

a raving nutter who lies about everything and has made my life a living hell at times. He can go to hell.


I reported him to Police for harrassment in April 2009 and others have done so since, yet he alleges we’ve made it up. We didn’t.

By “we”, he means Nadine Dorries MP, who shares Dale’s penchant of using “nutter” as a taunt.

The curious thing, though, is that Tim tells us that he has never been contacted by the police, and neither Dale nor Dorries have been willing to produce the reference numbers that they would have been given by the police. As Dale explains:

If someone burgled u and then kept harrassing u for a police incident number, what would you make of them? Wouldn’t you tell them to F off?

This does not redound to Dale’s credit. He claims to have reported Tim to the police, then uses Tim’s request for the evidence of this as proof of harassment. In Dorries’ case, one excuse she has given – after a lot of pushing – is that the “House of Commons Police” do not give reference numbers, and from a recent Tweet here we can infer that she has tried (and failed) to get a backdated number from the police in her constituency. By contrast, Tim presents evidence in his favour here.

But what of the substantive accusation? How is Tim supposed to have “stalked” either Dorries or Dale? Has he ever invaded their private lives, which is what “stalking” entails? No instances are given, although Dale tells us this:

I’d say 40 phonecalls, vicious voicemails and a threat 2 visit me would tend to back up the allegation of harrassment, wouldn’t u?

What this does not make clear is that this refers to one incident: Tim was being smeared on-line as a paedophile by a man with mental health problems, and this man had previously been endorsed by Patrick Mercer MP as an expert on on-line terrorism. Tim asked Dale to intervene with Mercer, which Dale agreed to do, but it transpired that what Dale did fell short of what Tim felt had been promised. Different people will have different opinions about who was at fault here, but it’s clear that the “40 phonecalls” refer to one man’s desperate attempts to get through to another on a matter of some urgency, rather than a campaign of harassment that made someone’s “life a living hell”.

However, Dale’s and Dorries’ exaggerated allegations have had unhappy repercussions; here’s the EDL-linked cyberthug Charlie Flowers boasting about why he and his friends decided to publish Tim’s home address on-line last year, along with direct threats of violence and an expression of malice against Tim’s family:

Flowers was in fact motivated by completely different reasons (Tim had exposed as a sham some on-line “terror-tracking” in which Flowers had invested his sense of self-worth), but Dale’s accusation (and that of Dorries) provided cover and perhaps some self-justification and inspiration. The entry on Dale’s blog that Flowers cites has now gone.

Both Tim and a blogging associate of Dale’s named Phil Hendren have today alluded to a discussion that took place a few months ago involving several bloggers; the discussion was suggested by Phil Hendren after anonymous Tweets started appearing that attacked Tim’s family and which included details about Tim’s house. The discussion – which was private – floundered on what Tim felt that Dale needed to do; Dale has said that he was willing to help, but Tim has dismissed what was on offer as a counter-offer “to save face”. There is now much bitter invective on all sides, most of which is probably either baffling, amusing, or boring to outside observers.

It’s obvious to anyone who might be interested that my blog takes a broadly progressive perspective. However, I have no particular agenda of opposition to the UK conservative blogosphere; I’ve written a number of posts attacking Dorries, but that’s because I’ve been shocked and appalled by her conduct, not for reasons of political partisanship. I have no particular dislike of Dale (although I’ve been unimpressed by a couple of things he’s done), and I believe that Phil began – and conducted – the private discussion we all had in good faith. However, the central point remains this: Dale continues to throw around the accusation of “stalking” in way he really shouldn’t, and despite knowing about how the likes of Flowers are using the accusation. This is unjust, and although I have a higher opinion of face-saving compromises than Tim, he is well within his rights to continue to press the point.

UPDATE: Tim reports a comment by Dale:

I visited Tonbridge Police Station on the evening of 15 April 2008. That is all you need to know., I asked their advice, Their advice was to take out a harrassment [sic] order on you. I proceeded to take legal advice and you then received several warning letters.

Quite why you think you are entitled to any information from me after your behaviour towards me one can but wonder.

So, that’s why there’s no reference number: it seems that Dale went to the police not to make a complaint, but for “advice”; and it’s still not clear whether Dale even named Tim specifically or whether he merely sought general guidance. And we have to wonder why Dale did not in fact take out a harassment order, but instead merely sent “warning letters”. It looks very much like Dale understood that there was no criminal case to answer, and so just got a lawyer to fire off some intimidatory letters.

Tim adds:

all he sent was two (not several) deeply flawed letters (that read like he wrote them before having a two-bit lawyer sign them off) containing accusations that he could not substantiate then and cannot substantiate now. The first relied heavily on a claim of repeated libel (not harassment) that, when challenged, was never mentioned again! Tellingly, he even feels the need to exaggerate the number of letters.

Alan Lake and a Couple of Friends

Searchlight has posted online a report from September about the English Defence League, focusing on Alan Lake:

EDL representatives have addressed anti-Islamic gatherings in Sweden and Germany, they are co-organising a demonstration in the Netherlands and will, this month [September, blogged by me here], attend a protest against a planned Islamic centre near Ground Zero in New York.

….The driving force behind these links are two men who have been guiding the EDL from the shadows, Alan Lake and his close friend whom we know only as “Kinana”.

The two men are believed to have met at Kensington Temple, in Notting Hill Gate, west London, which belongs to the Elim Pentecostal Church, a protestant evangelical church, elements of which have attracted controversy for their hardline views on Christianity, homosexuality and Islam.

It is believed that Lake has moved away from the church but Kinana has maintained his links.

Kensington Temple is a successful and large Charismatic church, pastored by Colin Dye, and it has featured on this blog a couple of times; I would prefer the term “conservative” to hardline, although Dye is has had links with Christian Right lobby groups such as CCTV, and the church has hosted the anti-Islam speaker Sam Solomon. I actually visited his church once, in early 2003; I recall he prophesied an easy victory in Iraq, followed by mass conversions to Christianity. However, the church is not particularly “Right Wing” in the way that some American churches obviously are – and of course, just because Lake and “Kinana” have attended that does not mean they have any personal assocation with the people running the church. Lake does, though, have sympathies with Christian fundamentalism – on 4Freedoms he posted a very strange chart linking the theory of evolution with totalitarianism.

“Kinana” was also mentioned in an Observer report in October, and in a Daily Mail report in January:

Alarmingly, the EDL is becoming more sophisticated and those orchestrating its activities at the top are far more astute than its foot soldiers. I meet two of the EDL’s key figures in a Covent Garden pub – a respectable looking man called Alan Lake, and a man who goes by the moniker ‘Kinana’.

Lake is a 45-year-old computer expert from Highgate, north London who runs a far-right website called Four Freedoms. This summer he contacted the EDL and offered to both fund and advise the movement.

His 4Freedoms page is here. On Facebook he calls himself “Kinana Nadir”, and he associates with an “English Defence League Pakistani Christian Division” – “Kinana” is a reference to the story of Kinana ibn al-Rabi’, a Jewish leader who according to a source for the life of Muhammad was tortured and killed on Muhammad’s orders for refusing to divulge the location of a treasury.

According to the cyber-thug Charlie Flowers, Lake is a personal friend of his, and Lake’s Facebook page includes Flowers’ music band among his “Likes”. Flowers has links of his own with the EDL, and held the megaphone for Guramit Singh when Singh made his notorious jibe about Muslims “burning in Hell” at a rally in support of Geert Wilders. However, Flowers claims that he is not himself EDL, that he disagrees with some of what the EDL stands for, and that this is also the case with some ex-EDL associates of his: in particular, Matthew Kaplan and Joel Titus. However, there are claims that Flowers’ cousin was at an EDL rally in Leicester (see comment here). Flowers justifies having all these links because he’s “libertarian situationist”, although when it comes to people he doesn’t like he plays a game of “Six Degrees of Asghar Bukhari” to uncover an conspiracy of Islamic extremism – this includes me, and the fact I once got information from MPACUK about fake postings being made to the MPAC discussion forum inspired him to create a Glenn Beckesque flow chart on the subject.

Flowers also recently posted on Facebook about a meeting with Lake :

just got back from a two-hour meeting in the John Lewis cafe between me, Abdullah al-Andalusi, Paul Williams, and Alan Lake. They talked about stuff like Descartes, secularism,atheism, Marx, and the human condition… and I went “duuuuh”.

Al-Andalusi directs the Muslim Debate Initiative, which has debated the EDL (and the BNP) in the past (Williams is also associated with it). Flowers sees himself as some sort of broker encouraging debate “between all sides”, and thus showing up elements of the left that don’t wish to debate; a poster to Indymedia using the name “CamdenAntifash” (in fact an anti-vivisection activist named Mandy Ford) claims that (square brackets in original):

Thanks to Charlie Flowers [who isn’t EDL] there is peace in London including in Camden between anti racists, ex EDL, Muslims, Jews, anarchists [and even possibly current EDL]… Thanks to Charlie Flowers what could have been a potentially volatile situation has been calmed down in Camden

Nice idea: except that Flowers is a phony. For him, political activism is about manipulation rather than debate, and that includes making bogus postings to Muslim websites, spreading lies, making threats of violence, and publishing home addresses to intimidate when it suits him – the full background is laid out here. The only question is whether his motivation is ultimately rooted in a political project or whether he’s simply having some sort of mid-life crisis.

Court Case Brought by Helen Ukpabio Dismissed

Leo Igwe reports on a legal defeat suffered by “Lady Apostle” Helen Ukpabio in her attempt to suppress opposition to child-witch stigmatisation in Nigeria:

Today a Federal High Court in Calabar in Cross River State, presided over by Justice P.J. Nneke, dismissed the application by Helen Ukpabio and some members of the Liberty Gospel Church seeking to enforce their fundamental rights against Akwa Ibom state government, the Commissioner of Police of Cross River state, Assistant Inspector General of Police, Leo Igwe, Sam Ituama, Gary Foxcroft and others as respondents for daring to organize a workshop which they perceived to be critical of their activities. They asked the respondents to pay them 200 billion naira ($.1.3 million dollars) in damages.

The court wondered why Helen and her church members attacked some of the respondents and still came to court to enforce their fundamental rights for the mere reason that the victims of the attack dared report the matter to the police. The court dismissed the application and awarded costs of 20,000 naira(184 dollars) against Helen and her church members. Helen Ukpabio, her church members and her lawyers were not in court today for the ruling.

It should be recalled that last year over 150 thugs from Helen Ukpabio’s Liberty Gospel Church invaded the venue of a workshop on Witchcraft and Child Rights in Calabar. They attacked and beat up the organizers of the program. The police intervened and arrested some of them; in their statement they said they were sent by Helen Ukpabio to disrupt the event. Shortly after the arrest, Helen and her church members went to court to enforce their fundamental rights. Early this year, Helen’s lawyers did not appear in court on two occasions and the court had to strike out the case. But a month later, the leader of her legal team Victor Ukutt went to court and re-listed the case.

“This is a landmark judgment and a victory of the rule of law over the law of the jungle. I am greatly delighted that the court has sent a strong message to Helen and her church members who have continued to use their connections to evade justice and to undermine the cause of reason, enlightenment and human rights.”

I have been following this story for some time, and I blogged on the attack on the workshop here; the invasion was later praised by another powerful evangelist, Bishop NE Moses. Ukpabio had argued that attempts to oppose labelling children as witches is an attack on her religious freedom, and that Sam Ituama, who runs a hostel protecting “witch-children”, was himself a wizard. A previous bit of “lawfare” undertaken by Ukpabio was dismissed in February.

A few months ago, Leo Igwe’s father lost an eye in an assault, after Leo spoke out against the rape of a young girl in his home village (see here and here); Ukpabio’s followers – who all apparently regard themselves as good Christians – left comments on this blog expressing their joy that this had happened, and warning that worse was to come. Victor Ukutt himself left a comment:

There is no way Leo Igwe would lift up his hands against God’s annionted like Mrs Ukpabio and you expect God to stop giving him troubles. He has not seen trouble yet.God will visit and trouble all those people troubling Mrs Ukpabio.Watch out ,the troubles that God will rain on you,except you repent, will very severe…

There is also an anonymous attack blog which was set up by Ukpabio’s webmaster Gabriel Egba, containing the most extravagant lies and abuse about Leo and about anyone else who has spoken or written critically about Ukpabio – there are even a couple of pages devoted to me on it.

Meanwhile, the state governor of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio, is currently running an inquiry into child-witch stigmatisation in the state, although his commitment to ending the problem remains uncertain. The charity Stepping Stones Nigeria is urging that letters be sent; details have been posted here.

(As a footnote, I’ll add that Ukpabio’s attack blog has been been cited – somewhat desperately – by British cyber-thug Charlie Flowers as evidence that I’m an anti-religious Communist working in league with Islamic extremists)

English Defence League Dumps Terry Jones: Jones Accepts New Invite from National Front

Well, that didn’t last long. A statement has appeared on the EDL Facebook page:

The English Defense League wish to correct a falsehood that is being propagated by the international media: we did not invite Terry Jones to speak at any EDL event, he approached us and we agreed in principle but we have since taken an indepth look at him and his church.

Talk of the “media” propagating a “falsehood” is transparent bluster – the issue is that the EDL was “proud to announce” Jones as a “guest speaker”, not whose idea it was. And even if the detail is incorrect, the EDL needs to blame Jones, who maintains that he was invited. The statement continues:

Terry Jones won international notoriety by threatening to burn the Koran. We believe firmly in upholding the principles of free speech and free expression, and believe that he should have been free to do so, and protected by law enforcement authorities from those who would have tried to harm or kill him had he done so.

At the same time, we strongly disapprove of burning the Koran, precisely because we believe in those principles of free speech and free expression. We do not believe the Koran should be burned, but rather read, so that people come to understand its inherent violence, supremacism, and hatred and contempt for non-Muslims. It is essential that people know what the Koran teaches, so they can see how far its teachings are from the free traditions of England that we have pledged our lives to uphold and defend.

Once again, the notion of the EDL supposedly having no problem with “moderate” Muslims is shown up as a farce: from the above, the only “moderate” Muslim would be one who repudiates the Koran. Further:

The English Defence League has made it clear in previous press statements that it has a great deal of sympathy with some of the views and opinions of Pastor Terry Jones specifically related to Islamic Extremism. We share similar concerns with him regarding extreme Islam, shariah law and of course the Qu’ran. We are also deeply concerned over his personal targeting by the home secretary, Theresa May, with respect to a possible U.K. banning order. These issues notwithstanding, we still have some reservations about Pastor Jones and we do not agree with all of his opinions or indeed all he stands for.

The EDL is extremely proud of its diverse support base including it’s primary base of geographical divisions from all across England encompassing much ethnic diversity. In addition we have specific divisions drawn from groups particularly threatened by encroaching Sharia: a Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Division; a Jewish Division and recently a Pakistani Christian Division. The EDL also enjoys the active participation and support of many former members of the Armed Forces. In light of our strong commitment to these groups and some of the Pastor’s statements and associations, we feel it inappropriate to offer Pastor Terry Jones an invitation to attend an EDL demonstration.

The EDL can confirm that Pastor Jones will not be attending the English Defence League demonstration against sharia in Luton on 5 February. We wish him success in his efforts to oppose the rise of sharia in the United States and thank him for his interest in the EDL.

There follows a link to a CBS report about Westboro Baptist Church picketing a soldier’s funeral – Jones has made links with the Phelps clan. According to a report in the Guardian:

EDL spokesman Guramit Singh said the decision had been taken after the group carried out “further research” on Jones and discovered he held some “homophobic and racist” views.

This evening Jones, a pentecostal preacher who runs the Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Florida, denied he was homophobic or racist, adding that the EDL had bowed to pressure from the government and media.

Fran Ingram, one of Jones’s followers, has left a comment under the EDL statement, expressing displeasure:

Last thing I expected, the edl backing out! God have mercy on England.

But Jones has found some new friends in the UK. According to the Dove World Outreach Center website:

The English Defence League has withdrawn its invitation to have Dr. Terry Jones speak at their rally in Luton, UK on February 5, because of pressure from special interest groups.

Dr. Jones has now been invited to speak and hold rallies with the National Front, as well as with the British National Front and has accepted these invitations.

The “National Front” is the same thing as the “British National Front”; perhaps in the latter case Jones means the “British National Party”. In any case, both parties are unquestionably hardcore far-right, although the BNP these days tries to create a veneer of distance from its racist origins. According to an NF website (banner: “the party of White family values”):

Andy Gray, East Mildands [sic] NF organizer has announced that following the utter cave in by the EDL and the withdrawal of their invitation to Pastor Terry Jones of the American Dove Outreach ministry to address an EDL event planned in Luton, the National Front have stepped into the gap and openly invited Jones to attend an event to be organized by the NF instead. (1)

A second posting adds that the NF has “just received a reply from Dr Terry Jones in which he expresses his delight at being invited”.


UPDATE: Darcy Jones notes a Daily Star article on how the EDL had “snubbed” Pastor Jones and declared that his “offer” was “inappropriate”. There is no mention of how the EDL had formerly announced that it was “proud” to announce Jones’ participation, or of Jones’ claim that he had been invited.

UPDATE 2: The next day, the National Front explained that:

It now appears that Dr Terry Jones will not be attending an event in the UK after all. It seems that following the EDL canceling his engagement and subsequent alterations to his international itinerary the UK will probably not feature in his list of engagements.

It is also suspected that diplomatic representations to the US may have had some bearing on him ‘changing his mind’.

Jones, meanwhile, has quietly removed his post on the subject.

Terry Jones and Friends

Yesterday I noted Pastor Terry Jones’s new “Stand Up America!” organisation – not to be confused with the established right-wing group of that name – with which he intends to come to the UK in February to address the English Defence League. The group’s main focus is

standing up for the Christians & minorities in Islamic dominated countries. In Egypt Christianity is persecuted everyday and America closes its eyes. Even the Christian churches in America refuse to see to the brutality and inhumane treatment of those that do not accept Islam as their religion. Stand Up America! will continue to protest and speak out on these issues as well as abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage and other areas that the modern church of today shy away from…

To this end, Jones held a protest at Ground Zero on 16 November, and a protest outside the Egyptian consulate in New York on 11 December. His site lists various allies in these activities:

The Truth TV

The National Coptic Association

The American Coptic Association

The International Christian Union

The American Defense League

The 9/11 Ground Zero Truck

The “9/11 Ground Zero Truck” – owned by a certain Mark A. Niemczyk – can be seen in action here, while the American Defense League appears to be a British-created offshoot of the EDL – Real Human Rights notes that the group’s Facebook page has a url which uses the British “Defence” spelling. There is also a “Denver Division” with a Facebook page here. In the run-up to Saturday’s protest, Emily Sapp – the daughter of Jones’ weird assistant pastor Wayne Sapp – stopped by the Facebook page of the Youth Defense league to plug the event and Jones’ book. However, this page is for fans of a 1980s skinhead band of that name, rather than having any connection to the EDL; probably Sapp didn’t realise the difference.

The National Coptic Association and the American Coptic Association appear to be both the same outfit, actually the National American Coptic Association, run by a certain Morris Sadek (vars Morris Sadik; Maurice Sadek). He describes himself as

one of Egypt’s leading human rights advocates. He is President of the Egyptian Center of Human Rights for National Unity in Cairo. In October 1999, he became Advocates’ Counsel for Middle East Affairs with a special focus on Egypt, as well as a director of our International Institute for Law.…Morris Sadek Esq is a president of national American coptic Assembly – non profit org

He has a somewhat chaotically-written blog here. According to a recent entry (probably an Arabic report that has gone through Babelfish):

Morris told the National Assembly approved Prime Coptic-American that he went at the request of the U.S. administration calling for the moratorium on the export of wheat to Egypt, due to the exposure of Copts in Egypt of oppression – as he claimed -.

Sadiq said in a protest march organized by the Copts in New York, featuring the Rev. extremist Terry Jones, owner of a lawsuit burning the Holy Quran, to condemn the riots that occurred in the city of Abu Tisht recently, “Hey America, Wake-man Egyptian and Christians in my country burn their homes,” and claimed in Htavath that “The Egyptian government persecutes Christians and exclude them from high political positions.

Further garbled details from appear on this site:

Called Rev. extreme “Jones” His idea of burning the Koran in the area of the twin towers of World Trade in America to march to protest on Eid al-Adha, in the same area starting at eleven am to two hours to stand in mourning for the victims of the accident the eleventh of September.

Jones said in the statement, which was launched in partnership with – Ahmed Abaza, Head of Channel truth of Christianity in America – and Maurice Sadek National Assembly President Coptic America under the name “coalition of the Giants” The march is aimed to find out to mourn the martyrs of America, Egypt and Iraq who are affected by the hand of treachery Islamic descendants of Arab invaders occupiers the land of Egypt, Coptic and Pharaonic on behalf of the doctrine of Islam fascist ideology espoused by all the Muslims of the world such as Mohammed Atta, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Omar Abdel Rahman, and their tails of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, according to a statement.

The statement called for Jews to continue to liberate “Jerusalem” from the hands of settlers and the expulsion of Muslims, also urged residents of southern Sudan to continue in their battle for a state separate from the north, saying,”O brave people of South Sudan, O triumphed on the Arab Muslims in Sudan have continued in your state New South Sudan Christian, we support you and are ready to make precious and cheap for the liberation of southern Sudan from Islamic fascism,And will soon be freed of Egypt Coptic Muslim settlers, as liberated Spain, Israel and South Sudan.

However, not everyone is impressed with Sadek; according to one report from 2009:

Other than serving as president of the National Coptic Assembly, Sadek is also president of the Human Rights Center for National Unity in Egypt, which was established in 1995. He was an advisor for Middle East affairs with Advocates International based in Fairfax, Virginia in 1999-2000.

His provocative views have turned-off former associates, including those who initially joined him in establishing the human rights center in Cairo. Leading activist and Copt, George Ishaq, is one of them. He thinks that Sadek is in search of wealth and power.

“[Sadek] is ignorant and does not have a clue about what he is talking about,” Ishaq told the Middle East Times in his downtown Cairo office.

“Here in Egypt, Sadek is not listened to because he doesn’t know anything and is only trying to make himself famous and get people to give him money,” Ishaq said, adding, “What we need to talk about is citizenship, because essentially we are all Egyptians and we need to live together and stop seeing religion as a dividing issue.”

….[Sadek] wrote: “Although the Palestinians are the invaders of the land, instead of thanking Israel for food and help, they declared war. This is Islamic hate. Their place today should be the Higaz [Saudi Arabia] where they came from; and instead of thanking Israel for giving them a piece of its land to live on, they declared war.”

Ishaq said that while Sadek’s views are also held by some within Coptic communities abroad, in Egypt, he is seen as “crazy.”

…Sadek argued that Egypt was the rightful home of Copts, “not the Arab descendants that now live in the country” and has told Muslims to leave the country. On the Web site, he explicitly wrote, “I am an Egyptian. Do not call me an Arab.”

Ahmed Abaza and Truth TV, meanwhile, have an Arabic language website here; the site advertises Abaza’s association with Terry Jones. Abaza is the author of a memoir, I Was Blind, But Now I See: A chilling escape from the mask of Islam, into the new found light. According to the blurb:

Ahmed Abaza was born and raised in Egypt, of a very famous, influential and well known family. At age 17, he began the challenge of converting from Islam to Christianity. In 1991, Mr. Abaza graduated from Alexandria University with an Economics Bachelor degree. After seeking religious refuge in many countries he now lives in North America. Mr. Abaza published his book I Was Blind, But Now I See in Arabic and English. He has appeared on various news channels, live talk shows and pre-recorded tapings on satellite stations that air internationally. He wrote for newspapers such as The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Jewish Express, The Windsor Star, and Voice of an Immigrant (the New Jersey publication). Through the Voice of an Immigrant, he addressed President George W. Bush in an editorial letter. Mr. Abaza currently speaks at various events, seminars and conferences to discuss the persecution in the Middle East. Mr. Abaza has been called “the Sword in Islam” by various Middle Eastern newspapers like The Arab World due to his frankness and forthright comments about Moslems and their brutality. For the past nine years he has hosted chat sessions on PalTalk.com to help reveal the truth and to minister to others. He is in the process of launching a new satellite station called The Truth Broadcast Network (TTBNTV), airing in July 2007. This station will focus on religion and persecution without censorship. He feels it is his duty to expose the Middle East’s corruption in reference to the torture and killings of Ex-Muslims and Christians. Ahmed Abaza’s mission is to reach the Moslem community and minister to them by bringing out the truth that lies in the Koran in the various hidden passages and to minister to anyone seeking knowldge.

He also uses the name “Hope Shine”, and a bio can be seen here.

Together at Last: Pastor Terry Jones and the English Defence League

As is being widely reported, Pastor Terry Jones is back in the news, with plans to come to the UK to take part in an English Defence League rally. Jones is famous world-wide for his aborted plan to burn a heap of Korans at his church in Gainesville and for his “Islam is of the Devil” slogan, but he also has some other controversial views: he claims that it is not racist to use the slur “nigger”, on the grounds that it doesn’t apply to intelligent black people but can be used to refer to foolish white people. He also reportedly at one point threatened to burn the Talmud as well as the Koran, although I haven’t been able to find an authoritative source for that.

Jones’ Dove World Outreach Center website has the details:

We are pleased to announce that the English Defence League (EDL), the American Defense League (ADL), and all the international Defense Leagues connected with those groups have confirmed and support our work. The English Defense League has also invited Dr Jones to come to a historic Rally of theirs, February 5, 2011, Luton, England. During the protest, Dr. Terry Jones, will speak against the evils and destructiveness of Islam in support of the continued fight against the Islamification of England and Europe.

The EDL Facebook page is also confirming Jones’ attendance:

The English Defence League are proud to announce our guest speaker for what will be our biggest demo to date LUTON “LUTON Demo update “The Big One” DR TERRY JONES AND STAND UP AMERICA! WILL JOIN THE ENGLISH DEFENCE LEAGUE ON FEBRUARY 5TH, 2PM, LUTON, ENGLAND, TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE EVILS OF ISLAM.” -D-

This “Stand Up America!” appears to be a new project of Jones, and it is distinct from another right-wing group of that name, run by Paul Vallely. According to the website of the of Jones group:

Stand Up America! is holding rallies in major cities all around America. Dr. Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center is the primary speaker. The purpose of Stand Up America! is to encourage Americans and the Church to stand up.  In other words, it’s not only geared towards the Christian community, but its geared towards us as Americans to stand up on issues that we feel are important.

It is about issues like the national debt, that our President is running us into at an almost unrepairable rate….

Currently, Stand Up America! is standing up for the Christians & minorities in Islamic dominated countries. In Egypt Christianity is persecuted everyday and America closes its eyes. Even the Christian churches in America refuse to see to the brutality and inhumane treatment of those that do not accept Islam as their religion. Stand Up America! will continue to protest and speak out on these issues as well as abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage and other areas that the modern church of today shy away from…

Jones – whose book Islam is of the Devil was quietly scrubbed by the publisher, Creation House – isn’t the first fringe anti-gay religious-right figure from the USA with whom the EDL has made links: back in October, “Surfing Rabbi” (and Tea Party activist) Nachum Shifren was a speaker at an EDL rally in London. Jones’ planned Koran-burning inspired six EDL members to burn the book in Gateshead in September, leading to arrests “on suspicion of inciting racial hatred”.

However, it’s likely that both groups will get the publicity they need, without the EDL having to worry about any embarrassing comments Jones might make about homosexuals and “niggers”: there are calls for Jones to be denied entry to the UK, and given that a number of other extremists have been banned already, it is likely that Jones will be excluded. It’ll then be story of free speech and the supposed “Islamization of Europe” rather than of the preposterous and mutually-discrediting alliance itself.