John Giduck Files Lawsuit against Special Operations Community Network

Last year, I noted a long report in the Washington Monthly about the quality of counter-terrorism training being given to US law-enforcement agencies. Among those discussed critically in the article was a certain John Giduck, a lawyer who has worked in Russia:

…He claims to have trained with multiple Russian special forces units, and to be certified by the “Vityaz Special Forces Anti-Terror School.” In 2004, Giduck traveled to Russia immediately after the Beslan school massacre and wrote a book called Terror at Beslan. It was published in 2005, and it raised Giduck’s profile, earning him a guest appearance on the Glenn Beck show in the fall of 2007. Among the book’s most sensational allegations is that the terrorists at Beslan systematically raped their hostages, a claim that no other primary source account has made. In the meantime, Giduck has also become an in-demand counterterrorism trainer.


When we wanted to know more about Giduck’s time with the Russian special forces, Giduck wrote back to say that he had done a “series of trainings with Vityaz [a unit of Spetsnaz, the Russian special forces] at their special forces compound and training school on the Balashikha Army Base about 30 miles east of Moscow from 1999 to 2004″ and had had close access to a series of elite Russian units, including Rus, another Spetsnaz division. When we made inquiries at the Russian Interior Ministry, we were informed that Giduck had not trained with Vityaz. Instead, he took a commercial course in extreme survival skills, with no counterterrorism component. Representatives from Rus said they had never heard of Giduck.

Giduck was subsequently defended in an article by Major Joseph M. Bail, Jr. (ret.), a recently retired police officer from the City of Chester, Pennsylvania PD. His piece was entitled “Dispelling the Falsehoods of Washington Monthly Magazine: How the Liberal, Left Wing Media Lies To Destroy Our Mission and our Men”, and it accused the article’s authors, Meg Stalcup and Joshua Craze, of being part of a Muslim conspiracy:

One must ask the question of whether articles of this nature are attempting to point out the shortcomings of current terrorism training or is it the practice of taqiyya (Islamic Principle of Lying for the Sake of Allah).

Bail’s “rebuttal” was promoted by Brad Thor at Big Government; Thor (who has accused me of “utter nilihism” for expressing scepticism of his May 2010 “Mullah Omar Captured” story) had previously narrated an audio-book version of Giduck’s The Green Beret in YouStalcup and Craze in turn responded to Bail’s piece, assuring readers that “we are not covert Muslims attempting to wage a war on America”.

Meanwhile, Giduck has also come under critical scrutiny on a discussion website called SOCNET, which is billed as “The Special Operations Community Network”. In response to this, Giduck has now filed a lawsuit in Colorado against SOCNET users (Case number 12CV128), in which he complains:

“Defendants’ campaign has been successful and largely destroyed Giduck’s ability to be hired as a lecturer/speaker’ teacher. The campaign has drastically reduced the number of lectures/presentation for which Giduck/Archangel were hired and eviscerated their earnings. The campaign has caused Giduck and Archangel to lose nearly $500,000 in annual profits.

“Archangel” refers to Giduck’s company, the “Archangel Group”.

Popehat has surveyed Giduck’s complaint:

In the complaint, Giduck claims that people on SocNet have falsely accused him of posing as things he is not — including a former member of Special Forces. Giduck’s position seems to be that he’s never said he was in the Special Forces; he just markets himself as someone very knowledgeable about Special Forces, someone you should hire to lecture and consult about them. He also asserts there is a conspiracy to ruin him and his lecturing/consulting business, that SocNet commenters called for him to be ruined, and that SocNet commenters called for attacks on him and his wife, resulting in his tires being slashed.

…The complaint mixes allegations about false statements of fact that could plausibly be defamation (like asserting that the defendants accused Giduck of making false claims of being a Special Forces soldier) with allegations directed at statements of opinion that are obviously protected by the First Amendment (like calling Giduck a “creepy-ass dummy” or “moron.”…

A member of SOCNET has also left a comment on this blog, which I have removed due in living in a jurisdiction notorious for “libel tourism”. The comment made a number of troubling allegations about Giduck’s conduct, and that of his associates.

Giduck’s defenders have created a website entitled SoCnetLies, which accuses SOCNET of functioning

as (anonymous) judge, jury and executioner over the professional and personal reputations of those they decide to attack.

In response, there is a site entitled Thetruthaboutsocnetlies (sic):

John Giduck is a public figure considering he is an author and national security/school safety consultant.  Many of John Giduck’s associates have also made themselves public figures. This site uses a combination of truth, opinion, and satire all of which are protected speech with regards to public officials.  If you don’t like what you read, please go to another website.

This site includes a document which is alleged to be Giduck’s US army record; it states that he was discharged after serving for two months in 1987.

Country Described by Rick Warren as “Model for Africa” Accused of Backing Rebels in DR Congo

From the Christian Post, March 2012:

Rick Warren Guiding Rwanda’s New Leaders, Calls Nation His ‘Other Home’

At a prayer breakfast at Kigali Serena Hotel on Sunday, March 18, Warren spoke to Rwanda’s spiritual leaders along with several government officials, including Prime Minister Dr. Pierre Damien Habumuremyi.

…”Rwanda is now a model for Africa and in the next 10 years, it will be a model for the rest of the world. This country is also blessed with an uncommon leader who is full of integrity,” the evangelical pastor said.

…Warren is also a member of President Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council.

From Reuters, 19 June 2012:

The U.N. panel of experts on Congo is due to publish an interim report soon that international diplomats say appears to have information backing up reports of rebels receiving support from Rwanda.

[Congolese government spokesman Lambert] Mende told Reuters on Monday that Rwanda and its allies on the Security Council, including Washington, were trying to block the report.

“I think (the report) confirms everything that has been said. I don’t think the Rwandans are at all happy that it should be officially endorsed by the U.N,” he said. Washington was not immediately available for comment.

The report’s material on Rwanda, which appeared as an addendum to the main report (reference number S/2012/348), was finally published at the end of June.

Just over a week ago, it was reported that the US intended to “cut military aid to Rwanda for this year because of evidence by U.N. experts that Kigali was supporting rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo”, while the Netherlands and and the UK have delayed making aid payments. Further, the Guardian  reported that:

Stephen Rapp, who leads the US Office of Global Criminal Justice, told the Guardian the Rwandan leadership may be open to charges of “aiding and abetting” crimes against humanity in a neighbouring country – actions similar to those for which the former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, was jailed for 50 years by an international court in May.

However, the ICC has since clarified that “investigations into the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were not focused on Rwanda nor its leadership, but on the crimes against humanity allegedly committed by forces loyal to renegade General Bosco Ntaganda.”

Rwanda has responded with a “rebuttal”, claiming that Rwandan army uniforms worn by fighters in Congo could have been purchased from foreign marketplaces, but Kagame is coming under critical media scrutiny.

Of course, Rick Warren wasn’t to know about events in Congo, but his lack of any critical distance from Kagame (see, for example, this gushing 2009 profile he wrote for Time) was always likely to lead to difficulties. It should be recalled that Warren’s words of praise in March followed reports in May 2011 that Rwandan exiles in London had been warned by police of assassination threats, and the mysterious attempted murder of a Rwandan former general in Johannesburg in 2010.

Another international advisor to Kagame is Tony Blair, who attended a previous Warren prayer meeting at the Kigali Serena in 2009 (Warren has also dispensed his “PEACE medal” awards to Blair and Kagame). Back in December 2010, Blair told the Guardian that:

“I’m a believer in and a supporter of Paul Kagame. I don’t ignore all those criticisms, having said that. But I do think you’ve got to recognise that Rwanda is an immensely special case because of the genocide. Secondly, you can’t argue with the fact that Rwanda has gone on a remarkable path of development. Every time I visit Kigali and the surrounding areas you can just see the changes being made in the country.”


Kagame is not the only controversial leader to enjoy a relationship with Tony Blair; Nick Cohen recently noted Blair’s links to Nursultan Nazarbayev:

He won’t explain why he’s helping the Kazakh dictator present a better face to the west. Apparently, he has said that he is not personally profiting from appearing in a propaganda video praising the dictatorship’s “progress” and hymning its “extraordinary economic potential”.

So far, there is no connection between Nazarbayev and Warren, despite Nazarbayev’s interest in “religious leaders”.

Burmese Monks and Groups Oppose Rohingya

I’m a few days late with this; from the Independent:

Monks who played a vital role in Burma’s recent struggle for democracy have been accused of fuelling ethnic tensions in the country by calling on people to shun a Muslim community that has suffered decades of abuse.

…The outburst against the Rohingya, often described as one of the world’s most oppressed groups, comes after weeks of ethnic violence in the Rakhine state in the west of Burma that has left more than 80 dead and up to 100,000 people living in a situation described as “desperate” by humanitarian organisations. 

…The Young Monks’ Association of Sittwe and Mrauk Oo Monks’ Association have both released statements in recent days urging locals not to associate with the group. 

…Aid workers report ongoing threats and interference by local nationalist and religious groups. Some monasteries in Maungdaw and Sittwe sheltering displaced Rakhine people have openly refused to accept international aid, alleging that it is “biased” in favour of the Rohingya. 

…Monks’ leader Ashin Htawara [var. Ashin Htarwara] recently encouraged the government to send the group “back to their native land” at an event in London hosted by the anti-Rohingya Burma Democratic Concern. Ko Ko Gyi, a democracy activist with the 88 Generation Students group and a former political prisoner, said: “The Rohingya are not a Burmese ethnic group. The root cause of the violence… comes from across the border.”

Htarwara is General Secretary, All Burma Monks Representative Committees (ABMRC).

Human Rights Watch reported on the general background on 5 July:

Burmese security forces have responded to sectarian violence in northern Arakan State with mass arrests and unlawful force against the Rohingya Muslim population, Human Rights Watch said today. Local police, the military, and a border security force known as Nasaka have committed numerous abuses in predominantly Muslim townships while combating the violence between the Rohingya and ethnic Arakan, who are predominantly Buddhist, that broke out in early June 2012.

…Burmese security forces have been implicated in killings and other abuses since the sectarian violence in northern Arakan State began, Human Rights Watch said.

…The recent sectarian violence began after an ethnic Arakan woman was allegedly raped and killed by three Muslim men on Ramri island in southern Arakan State in late May, which was followed by the June 3 killing of 10 Muslims by an Arakan mob in Toungop. On June 8, thousands of Rohingya rioted in the town of Maungdaw, destroying Arakan property and causing an unknown number of deaths. Groups of Rohingya subsequently committed killings and other violence elsewhere in the state, burning down Arakan homes and villages. Arakan groups, in some cases with the collusion of local authorities and police, committed violence against Rohingya communities, including killings and beatings, and burning down Muslim homes and villages.

According to the International Business Times, the three men were convicted and sentenced to death in June (one of the three had committed suicide, and so his sentence was handed down posthumously).

Burma Democratic Concern has a somewhat chaotically-organised website here, and it includes an article called “Prominent 8888 [sic] Generation Students Leaders Spoke on Rohingya and the Current Riots in Burma”. It’s difficult to judge the overall tone; on the one hand, one statement calls for calm:

It is the most important to prevent the incitement that would cause riots and bloodshed among citizens. Therefore, I don’t want anyone to name the current events as riots between Muslims and Buddhists… . It is time to protect each other. It is time to protect the minority by the majority. If they not only protect each other and if they not only threaten each other, if they even take lives and destroy the public property, do not save any face.

Another, however, claims that:

The killing and arson have been done a clearly deliberate plan to drive out the native people from their national home after fighting a genocidal war. For that reason, we are advocating your attention and appropriate action from the international community.

The current violence they incited has been very tactful too. It occurred a few weeks before Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s departure for European trip. Their intent is to create an access for their activists in Europe to see Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and put her under a pressure with the help of their European supporters and to ask on Rohingas problem. But there was no success.

The site also draws attention to several photos unrelated to the conflict that have been used on social media as examples of Rohingya suffering (somewhat over-dramatically, the site claims that these have “tricked” the “world’s media”).

Also based in London is the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation, which has its website here. According to an “Appeal” page on the site:

…The Rohingya and Rakhine are indigenous to Arakan and therefore to present day Burma. Before 1785 AD, Arakan existed as an independent nation for many centuries where Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya coexisted peacefully. We will work to re-establish the traditional relationship of peaceful-coexistence that existed in the past between the Rohingya Arakanese and the Rakhine Arakanese peoples, and to promote a shared sense of being Arakanese among all peoples of Arakan.

…We are not part of any struggle outside Burma and are committed as a community within Arakan to rebuild the State. Our vision for the future is a diverse, tolerant, multi-ethnic, multi-religious Arakan society.

In the USA, news that the riots had been triggered by a crime by Muslims was met with pyromaniac glee by Pam Geller, who declared the killing to have been an act of “jihad”; a week before that, she opined that the violence was the inevitable result of “Muslim immigration”. No surprises there, then – and I noted her similar support for militant anti-Muslim monks in Sri Lanka in May.

Charlie Flowers Makes New Paedo-Smear Threat

Well, it doesn’t get more explicit than this, does it?

On Facebook, on-line vigilante thug Charlie Flowers discusses an e-book he’s self-published:

…the book portrays everyone who’s pissed me off in the last two years as dirty paedophile child molesters. Oh dear, Darcy Jones and Rosie Geefe and all your blogger friends, didn’t see that coming did you? You will now forever come up on Google searches as nonces. Oh deary me!

“Darcy Jones” and “Rosie Geefe” are both involved with on-line anti-EDL monitoring on Facebook and Twitter (Darcy also has a blog).

However, “everyone who’s pissed me off” also includes the blogger Tim Ireland and me. Tim was subjected to an anonymous paedo-smear attack on Wikipedia back in April; we don’t yet know for sure who did it, but Flowers sent an abusive message to this blog twenty minutes later. Last week, Flowers posted an on-line gun massacre fantasy in which Tim and I appear with our names changed; Flowers describes Tim being shot to death, and supposedly finding child pornography on my phone. Flowers’ hostility dates back to 2009, when he was involved in harassment against former associates of Dominic Wightman who had come to realise that Wightman was dishonest; Flowers turned on Tim and me after Wightman’s attempts to mislead us about one of these associates backfired.

It should be blindingly obvious from the above that Flowers is a sick and vicious individual, more than willing to trivialise the foulest of crimes if it means he can encourage others to harm those whom he dislikes.

However, Flowers is not just some random troll – he presents himself as an activist against Islamic extremism, and he has built up relationships with various individuals involved with high-profile moderate Muslim groups. Shortly after announcing his paedo-smear plan on his Facebook “Cheerleaders Against Everything” page, he followed up with a more generalised threat:

Attention rest of of world. You do NOT mess, or go up against, the Sisters of La Vida Loca. It’s not worth it. It just… isn’t. This includes bloggers, and people on Facebook walls. Don’t. There really isn’t any point. G’night. My sisters are my sisters for a reason, try them and you’ll get lit up.

As he’s sometimes done before, Flowers is here presenting the threat as coming from others rather than from himself – but it’s obvious that he’s the prime mover.

Astonishingly, this second Facebook post comes with several “Likes” – including from Tehmina Kazi of British Muslims for Secular Democracy and Michelle Brooks of Inspire (tagline: “empowering women, strengthening societies”). Both of these individuals enjoy mainstream respectability and access to the media, as does a third person who has added “Likes” to Flowers’ threats: this is Allegra Mostyn-Owen, who was formerly married to Boris Johnson and who recently claimed to have been appointed to a London mayoral “Muslim Engagement Task Force” on account of being married to a Muslim. Perhaps they didn’t see the paedo-smear threat posted a little further down the page; but even if so,  it’s clear what sort of a person they’re dealing with.

Flowers likes the idea of having links with moderate Muslim women and their allies, since he can then paint critics as being hostile to moderate Islam and the empowerment of Muslim women; hence he continues to make McCarthyist assertions that I’m a left-wing extremist in league with Islamists for my own purposes, when in fact I’m broadly supportive of what groups such as BMSD and Inspire are attempting to achieve. Flowers has been playing this game for a long time; in 2009 he co-opted Gina Khan of One Law for All into an implied endorsement (Khan eventually saw fit to contradict him two years later).

However, Flowers also has links with men: Flowers’ e-book, which he has now explicitly stated exists to spread paedo-smears, comes with a jokey endorsement from Mubin Shaikh, who was in the news in 2005 after infiltrating an extremist group in Canada and exposing a terror plot; he now presents himself as a “National Security Consultant”. Flowers is also involved with the Quilliam Foundation, and last year he helped to organise an abortive event involving two ex-EDL activists; the event fell through when one of the planned speakers accused Quilliam of misrepresenting him, but Quilliam decided to tell the press that he had backed down due to threats from the EDL. When I asked Ghaffar Hussain at Quilliam to put the record straight – not least because Flowers was also trying to appease his ex-EDL friends by suggesting that Quilliam’s statement to the press was somehow my fault – Hussain simply forwarded my email to Flowers, who then posted to Twitter that I had “harassed” Quilliam and that I was a “cunt”.

Some months ago I received emails from a third party, in which I was told that Flowers’ friends help to calm him down (by his own account, he’s bi-polar), and that there have been private criticisms of his behaviour. I believe the person who sent me these emails did so in good faith, but it’s clear from the above that his “friends” are in fact giving him validation and goading him on to further excesses. This is particularly the case as regards Kazi; despite telling me that Flowers’ behaviour towards me was none of her business, when I spoke privately about Flowers to a journalist and this journalist then blabbed to Kazi, the first thing she did was to pass the information on to Flowers (this was explained to me by the newspaper for which the journalist works after I made a formal complaint).

Another group with which Flowers has some involvement is Hope Not Hate; HnH recently split acrimoniously from Searchlight magazine, and Kazi is a trustee of the Searchlight Educational Trust, which, despite its name, is affiliated with HnH rather than Searchlight. It seems that there has been a dispute about money; the first information about this to enter the public domain came via an accusation of embezzlement from Flowers. Searchlight went on to write a critical piece about Flowers in the magazine; true to form, Flowers responded by posting a home address on-line (presented, as usual, as a kind of prank), although he took it down again shortly afterwards.

Flowers may also have influenced HnH reporting into Alan Lake, who was formerly associated with the the EDL and who is a friend of Flowers. The latest issue of Notes from the Borderland magazine (number 10, 2012) has an in-depth and polemical account of the Searchlight/HnH split (criticising both sides), including the following detail:

It did seem, as Searchlight claim, that prior to their “Counter-Jihadist Report” of April 2012, HNH “failed properly to investigate the English Defence League and its financial backers”…. Alan Lake is actually Alan Ayling, first revealed on Paul Ray’s lionheart blog in October 2011, and splashed all over the Sunday Times in December 2011. This story featured in HNH news that day, but no reference subsequently until the pamphlet… HNH never mentioned Ayling’s suspension from his job… first reported on the UAF website 31/1/12. Something is going on here: and through Charlie Flowers’ friendship with Matthew Collins HNH knew, or should have known, Lake was Ayling far earlier than reported. (p. 71)

UPDATE (10pm): Flowers has deleted his original paedo-smear threat quoted above, but he has started a new thread in which he has reposted his massacre fantasy and added further threats of the same kind:

Hopefully Expose and SWP are watching this as I immortalise them all as child molesters :)

…In which we kill all the hard-left bloggers and expose them as dirty paedophile scum. Because they are.

….Should have thought about that when you started blogging about me, shouldn’t you, paedo scum? I’m a registered author now, and you scumbags are fodder.

… I’m a published author, and I am going to grind your fascist SWP faces into the tarmac.

I think commentary here is superfluous.

He also links to his Goodreads author page, where he describes himself as

an adviser on terrorism and extremism to certain departments and think tanks.

Presumably this is a reference to his appearance a source in a report produced by Demos last November; I discussed this here.

UPDATE 2 (26 July): Flowers has now deleted the above thread, too. The text can be seen here.

UPDATE 3 (27 July): Flowers has now back-pedalled from his threat: he claims that are in fact no paedo-smears in the book – his boasts were just a “trap” to get me to talk about his book. He’s also created another thread, where he and a few cronies (mostly middle-aged men) are engaging in some self-justifying school-yard abuse in my direction.

Self-Proclaimed Former CIA “Double Agent” Inside Revolutionary Guards Under Scrutiny

Lectures at Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy

From Jeff Stein’s “Spytalk” blog at the Washington Post, July 2010:

Reza Kahlili, a self-proclaimed former CIA “double agent” inside Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, appeared in disguise at a Washington think tank Friday claiming that Iran has developed weapons-grade uranium and missiles ready to carry nuclear warheads.

…Kahlili was showcased Friday by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Washington think tank founded by a former senior official of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.

…Several current and former U.S. intelligence officials in the audience “rolled their eyes” at Kahlili’s claims, said one observer who was present.

…A U.S. counter-proliferation official, who would discuss the highly sensitive issue only on condition of anonymity, dismissed Kahlili’s uranium claims.

“We’ve had real successes in acquiring some of the Iranian government’s most tightly held secrets, including discovery of its concealed enrichment facility near Qom,” the official said. “But things like 90-percent enrichment just don’t tally out.”

…”Three former CIA officers who ran Iranian operations in the ’80s and should have been knowledgeable said they had never heard of such a significant penetration of the Guard during this period,” The Washington Post’s veteran spy-watcher, David Ignatius, said in a review of Kahlili’s memoir, A TIME TO BETRAY: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran.

“A current U.S. government official, however, did vouch for Kahlili’s role as a spy,” Ignatius added.

Kahlili has since then made further revelations; here he is in April, writing for WND:

Terror cells have been placed on high alert to attack targets in the United States and Europe should Iran’s nuclear facilities be attacked, a source in the Revolutionary Guards says.

…The source says these cells are divided into two groups: one is operational and awaits the order to attack; the other gathers information, monitoring such sensitive sites as power plants, water and food distribution, refineries, railroads and others along with information on officials of the host countries and their activities.

…The operatives enter the Western countries through several means, but some use fake identities and claim to be part of religious minorities under persecution in Iran. According to the source, several hundred have entered the U.S. as members of the Baha’i faith whose lives supposedly are threatened by the Islamic regime.

…The most ominous message from the source is that an all-out response will not be based on a defense doctrine but rather on the belief that total chaos will hasten the return of last Islamic messiah for the final defeat of the infidels.

That last paragraph is somewhat ironic, given WND‘s own end-times fear-mongering. But who is this mysterious “source”? In a follow-up piece for the Daily Caller following the massacre of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, Kahlili describes him as

A source who served in the Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence unit and has now defected to a European country…


According to that source, and another located in the U.S., the regime’s assets have long infiltrated America and are coordinating operations out of mosques and Islamic centers, such as Imam Ali Mosques and the Iman Islamic Center.

One can see a familiar story arc here: Kahlili’s original selling point was his purported past experiences inside the Guards – but even if he’s telling the truth, such expertise is based on a special status which he no longer enjoys. How can he remain relevant as the news cycle moves on? The answer: he supposedly continues to enjoy privileged access to intelligence sources, who pass on to him dramatic new information. For some strange reason, Kahlili then shares this information via fringe-right outlets such as WND, which is best known for its anti-Islam animus (WND promotes a “Muslim anti-Christ” Biblical prophecy theory, and it co-sponsored last November’s anti-Islam “Preserving Freedom Conference” in Nashville), birther conspiracy-mongering, and for running adverts about “one weird spice” that cures diabetes (he’s also been interviewed by Glenn Beck).

There is also another familiar aspect to Kahlili’s story: although, so far as I can see from browsing Kahlili’s memoir on Amazon, his book does not discuss his own religious beliefs, Kahlili has converted to Christianity. In 2011, a piece appeared on WND in which he explained “Why I Renounce Islam and Choose Christ“:

…As I learned more about the Quran and what Muhammad prescribed, I concluded that Islam as now practiced in Iran is no true religion, that the Allah of the criminal ayatollahs is not the real God. Their religion turned against every principle of humanity. They instituted a cruel set of laws that represent intolerance, savagery and injustice, representative of an evil mind, not a loving God.

So I renounced Islam and began the quest to find the real God, the one who had blessed me so often in very dangerous times as a CIA spy.

This was followed just a few days ago with “The CIA Spy Inside Iran’s Revolutionary Guard who Found Jesus“, by Mark Ellis. Ellis published his piece on his Godreports website, and it was partially reposted at ASSIST Ministries:

…A friend gave him a copy of the New Testament and the JESUS Film, which touched his heart. Khalili studied the Scripture and asked many questions of his friend.

He found a sharp contrast between Jesus’ teaching in Luke 6 to love your enemies and the Quran (5:33), which urges punishment for those who oppose Islam — that “they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned.”

“I was never familiar with the life of Jesus, his words, his wisdom, and his pure love,” Khalili says. “His words were very revolutionary to me.”

Earlier this month, Kahlili was profiled in the Los Angeles Times by David Zucchino, who wrote that

…Brian Weidner, program coordinator for Iran instruction at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy, confirmed that Kahlili is a paid lecturer for the Pentagon agency. Other instructors are videotaped, Kahlili says, but his lectures are audio-only to protect his identity.

This is also mentioned on Kahlili’s website; Ellis similarly notes that

Kahlili teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA), is a senior fellow with EMPact America and a member of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security.

It should be recalled that over the last 18 months or so a number of reports have highlighted how unsuitable individuals have been employed to give training to military and law-enforcement in the USA. It is reasonable to be concerned about Kahlili: his identity is unknown; his claims are unverifiable, and in some instances have been challenged by security professionals or are so vague as to be unfalsifiable; he uses Christianity polemically in writings that discuss Islam; and his choice of publishing outlets is not consistent with someone who wishes to be taken seriously (see ConWebWatch for more on WND).

The latest reports of Kahlili’s lecturing work have caught the eye of CAIR, which has issued a press release:

– The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the Department of Defense (DoD) to drop an anti-Islam lecturer at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA) in Elkridge, Md., who wrote on an Islamophobic hate site that he “renounced Islam and began the quest to find the real God.” (reza kahlili:”Why I Renounce Islam and Choose Christ)(reza kahlili:” WND)(reza kahlili:8/24/11)

…”This is yet another unfortunate example of our nation’s military and counterterrorism personnel being trained by individuals who weaken America’s security by promoting their own religious and political agendas,” wrote CAIR national Executive Director Nihad Awad in a letter sent to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Reza has responded by claiming that he is being persecuted by CAIR for being an ex-Muslim. According to WND:

“They actually cite my change of faith as a principal reason for targeting me,” Kahlili told WND in a phone interview. “I thought once I left Iran for America I wouldn’t have to worry about that kind of persecution.”

Further, in an article written himself:

My activity, which CAIR wants censored, focuses on Iranian human rights and the vicious violations of basic decency committed by a tyrannical regime, brutality that has been documented by human rights organizations worldwide.

…Perhaps CAIR does not know that I do not teach about Islam at the Counterintelligence Training Academy. I teach on the activity of the Revolutionary Guards and its intelligence operation.

….Perhaps CAIR does not know that I worked for the CIA – not only in Iran but in Europe – and with Iranian agents within a mosque. Perhaps CAIR does not know that much of the information that is not disclosed in my articles for security purposes is then given to the FBI. Perhaps CAIR does not know that even today through my contacts with Revolutionary Guard members, I provide information to protect America and the free world.

Is CAIR interested in the security of America, and does it not want to do whatever it can to weed out terrorists posing as ordinary Muslims? Does it not hurt the Islamic community when acts of terror are committed, such as 9/11?

I have detailed my life in my book, “A Time to Betray”, and I challenge CAIR to read it and determine whether I promote Islamophobia.

UPDATE: Reza’s “persecution” misdirection is now being repeated widely on Twitter, including by Joel Rosenberg:

please pray for my Iranian-American friend @Reza_Kahlili who’s being persecuted for renouncing Islam and becoming a follower of Jesus Christ

Rosenberg has appeared on this blog a number of times; he is a best-selling author of apocalyptic thrillers written to promote the message that to be a Christian is to prepare for an inevitable end-times war with Iran and other Islamic nations.

Smear against Huma Abedin Endorsed by Michele Bachmann, Repudiated by High-Profile Republicans

Smear first made by Walid Shoebat last year

This one is being widely reported; from Politico:

They were long afraid to do it, but now conservatives have their knives out for Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Senators in her own party, congressional candidates, a lawmaker in her state’s delegation and leaders of the House Republican Conference are all lambasting the Minnesota Republican for saying the wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

..The Republican backlash against Bachmann started with Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) statement on the Senate floor Wednesday, saying she had made “sinister accusations.”

Rep. Jeff Flake, a conservative Arizona lawmaker running for Senate, tweeted “Kudos to @SenJohnMcCain for his statement on Senate floor yesterday defending Clinton aide. Well said.”

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) added: “Rep. Bachmann’s accusations about Sec. Clinton aide Huma Abedin are out-of-line. This kind of rhetoric has no place in our public discourse.”

John Boehner, meanwhile, stated that

“I don’t know Huma, but from everything I do know of her, she has a sterling character,” Boehner told reporters Thursday. “And I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.”

McCain’s full speech can be read here. Bachmann’s accusation was made in a letter to Ambassador Harold W. Geisel, Deputy Inspector General at the Department of State, and co-signed by Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney, and Lynn Westmoreland.

I noted the conspiracy-theory about Huma Abedin in June last year; the subject appears to have been raised first by Walid Shoebat, in the wake of a failed conspiracy theory (suggested by Eleana Benador, who has handled PR for Richard Perle, James Woolsey, and Frank Gaffney) that Abedin’s husband Anthony Weiner may have secretly converted to Islam.

Shoebat suggested that Abedin’s family background put her in the same position as Eva Braun:

Imagine during World War II, the U.S. government accepted Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress or one of Hitler’s henchmen daughters to work with our State Department and even be with the Secretary of State 24/7?

RightWingWatch notes that the subject was raised again earlier this month by Frank Gaffney and Gen William “Jerry” Boykin. Boykin, egged on by Gaffney, explained that:

Secondly, Huma [Abedin] is not the only person who has penetrated our government and if you go back to the explanatory memorandum that is in our book, Sharia: The Threat, which was discovered in Annandale, Virginia in the archives of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of their strategies was to penetrate our government and they have done so. If my mother or father was a known member of the Muslim Brotherhood it is highly unlikely that I would ever be able to get a security clearance so you have to ask yourself, why is this individual able to do that when no one else can possibly do that. So there is a willful blindness to what is happening. I believe in some aspects of this situation there is support for the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into our government, that sounds extremist but it is just a fact, it’s a reality.

In 2010, Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy produced a report entitled Shariah: The Threat to America (discussed here), to which Boykin also contributed; Boykin publicised the report in a letter to supporters which emphasised the dangers of Muslims being employed by the Obama administration:

The Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security recently swore in two devout Muslims in senior posts…. Was it not “Devout Muslim men” that flew planes into U.S. buildings 9 years ago? Was it not a Devout Muslim who killed 14 at Fort Hood?

…It’s not just about ONE mosque being built near the 9-11 catastrophe, it is about Sharia Law not stopping until they overtake each and every government on this earth…

The letter was written in Boykin’s capacity as “Grand Chancellor” of a chivalric order called “The Knights of Malta: The Ecumenical Order”; Boykin co-signed it with Nicholas Papanicolaou, the order’s “Grand Master” (the two men inducted Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff into the order last autumn).

Think Progress, following Adam Serwer at Mother Jones, notes that Bachmann has links to Gaffney – as does McCain himself. Serwer observed:

McCain inexplicably also defends Frank Gaffney, the head of the Center for Security Policy, as a “friend” despite the center’s role in providing “empirical” support for the absurd conspiracy theory that American Muslims are secretly trying to impose Taliban-style Islamic law on the United States. It’s Gaffney’s scurrilous reasoning masquerading as policy expertise that lead to Bachmann’s smearing of Abedin in the first place. 

Gaffney’s conspiracy-mongering is extravagant: just recently he shared a stage with phony “ex-terrorist” Kamal Saleem while Saleem explained that whenever Obama appears to pledge allegiance to the flag, he in fact holds his hand in a special way which shows that in reality he is praying to Allah. One conspiracy Gaffney was forced to back down from was his claim that the DOD’s Missile Defense Agency’s  logo represented the “morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo…” and was an act “of submission to Shariah by President Obama”. Alas, it turned out that the logo dated from 2007.

Boykin, meanwhile, has featured on his blog a number of times: while he remains most famous with the general public for the controversy over his comments reported in 2003 on how the War on Terror is a religious war, he is also a high-profile figure in the Christian Right, associated in particular with the neo-Pentecostal evangelist Rick Joyner.

Islamic Clerics Issue Statement in Support of Patrick Sookhdeo

From a lengthy statement posted to this blog (and elsewhere) by the Christian Muslim Council:

We write as the Muslim Chair and Muslim Council members of the Christian Muslim Council (also known as “La Ikraha” – “No Compulsion”), a charity working to promote joint Muslim and Christian co-operation to defend religious freedom and challenge the heinous persecution of Christian, Muslim and other faith minorities in different parts of the world.

In this regard, we view with deep concern the adverse references to our respected colleague, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo in the article [by Ben White], “Why has Patrick Sookhdeo (of all people) been advising Britain’s armed forces?”. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, is International Director of the Barnabas Fund, a Christian charity committed to promoting the cause of persecuted Muslims and Christians everywhere in the world, deriving its mandate from the biblical principle that all Christians are brothers and sisters, that there is no Jew or Greek, no black or white, no rich or poor, but all are one in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12-31). Dr Sookhdeo has placed himself in positions of considerable personal risk to protect Muslim friends who are often dissident voices speaking out against Islamist extremism and violence.

The Barnabas Fund’s stated aim is commendable: we all know that historic Christian coummunities in Islamic-majority countries seldom enjoy full equality, and in some cases face severe dangers, while the situation for converts from Islam is intolerable (I discussed the situation in Pakistan here).

However, that does not change the fact that some of Sookhdeo’s statements and actions need to be challenged: I’ve documented how he has misrepresented other people’s writings to scaremonger and vilify, while Ben White’s article notes Sookhdeo’s active association with virulent anti-Islam groups and individuals. The fact that he also has friendly association with some Islamic scholars through the Christian Muslim Council perhaps means that he cannot be reduced to these faults – but those faults are nevertheless still there, and raise serious questions over his advisory role to the military.

Somewhat oddly, the statement goes on to make an implied attack on the Archbishop of Canterbury:

 …Just as strongly, we applaud Dr Sookdheo’s clear critique of the racism and chauvinism of the wealthy Western church – in particular some in the “Interfaith Industry” of Lambeth Palace and the Church of England hierarchy – whose neglect of non-white and non-wealthy persecuted Christian minorities, and obstruction of Dr Sookhdeo’s efforts to challenge this institutional racism shows an astonishing abandonment of Christian brotherhood for political self-interest.

…[P]rinciples of truth-speaking… have been severely damaged by the behaviour of some parts of the Western Church for whom truth has become relative, the authority of Scripture diluted, and the character of the Christianity that of a racially white, European liberalism. The nature of conversation by this Eurocentric, liberal Christianity with Muslims and other faiths is shaped by an “Interfaith Industry” which has a deeply politically correct and colonialist character.

It’s not made clear exactly what they’re getting at here, although in the context of current debates, a nexus of complaints about “relativism”, “diluting the Bible”, and “colonialism” are more often than not aimed at Christians who are willing to accommodate homosexuality within the religion.

In contrast to the supposedly institutionally-racist “Interfaith Industry”, the Christian Muslim Council commends its own alternative interfaith events:

In the wake therefore of various, previous failed high level initiatives around Christian persecution in Muslim-majority countries, Dr Sookhdeo and the Barnabas Fund have successfully been able to build a unique partnership with leading Islamic scholars who will address intensively in partnership with Christian clergy, questions around Islamic apostasy laws and religious violence. These we together have configured as a series of three international conferences beginning in Cairo and concluding in Washington, DC. At these conferences will be released the result of many months of research and frank dialogue, in two statements, one Muslim and one Christian, in which Islamic scholars will assert the end to all violence or persecution of any person who leaves one religion for another religion.

These “leading Islamic scholars” are the statement’s authors:

Sheikh Professor Mohamed Elsharkawy, Chair

Sheikh Professor Abdallah Mohamed

Sheikh Dr Shukri Abdelmageed Daba

Sheikh Dr Gamalaldin Ahmed

CHRISTIAN MUSLIM COUNCIL (“La Ikraha” – “No Compulsion”)

For press queries, please contact: +44 7017 021530

Several of these names, and the contact details, are associated with the Al-Azhar Institute for Dialogue, based in east London; this is the “the official branch of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif in the United Kingdom”.

The statement is perhaps a partially-updated version of a statement issued by Islamic clerics in support of Sookhdeo in April, after he and the Barnabas Fund featured in a problematic report from Hope Not Hate entitled “The ‘Counter-Jihad’ Movement” (HnH subsequently scrubbed its references to Sookhdeo and his organisation). That would explain why it refers to conferences that have already taken place in the future tense; the Christian Muslim Council website announces that:

The high level conference of senior Islamic scholars to discuss issues relating to religious violence and religious freedom took place in Cairo, Egypt from 22 to 28 March 2012, and was led by Sheikh Professor Mohamed Elsharkawy and Sheikh Professor Abdallah Mohamed, Head of the Faculty of Comparative Religion at the University.

…From 21 to 22 May 2012, the Christian Muslim Council of scholars, will hold an international conference on religious violence and religious freedom in Washington, DC, at which the findings of the conference of Muslim scholars on religious violence led by Sheikh Professor Mohamed Elsharkawy will be developed at the highest level together with the international Council of Christian clergy and scholars led by Dr Patrick Sookdheo, with the support of experts and dignitaries.

According to a blurb at the same site:

Since 2008, the Christian Muslim Council (formerly Catholic Islamic Conference) has pioneered the regular monthly practice of interfaith lectio divina or praying through the sacred scriptures of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. 

…Among our key collaborating partners are the Imams and Rabbis Council of the United Kingdom and Scriptural Reasoning, as well as the Interfaith Alliance UK.

The “Imams and Rabbis Council” also has a second website, branded as “Children of Abraham”. There is also a very basic website in the name of “La Ikraha”; it has links both to the Barnabas Fund and to an organisation called Abraham House, billed as “London’s unique interfaith space”.

Patrick Sookhdeo’s Links to UK Military Noted

Ben White draws attention to associations between Patrick Sookhdeo and the British military:

He is a visiting fellow at Cranfield University, “the academic provider and partner to the Defence Academy,” and, at conferences organized by the latter, Sookhdeo has spoken on topics like “theological and psychological drivers of contemporary terrorist violence” (“Countering Insurgency and Terrorism,” Global Defence Forum, March 2008 [PDF]).

In a 2006 Defense Select Committee meeting in the British Parliament, it was revealed that “pre-deployment training” for the purpose of “familiarizing UK soldiers with the culture and conditions” in Afghanistan included “a presentation from Dr. Sookhdeo” as part of “additional higher level training … for commanders” (“Third memorandum from the Ministry of Defense,” Select Committee on Defence).

Sookhdeo’s book Global Jihad features on a 2011 recommended reading list for the Ministry of Defence’s higher command and staff course, and was endorsed by the retired Major General Tim Cross — who had been a commander of British troops in Iraq from 2004 to 2007 — as providing “stunning in-depth analysis” (Higher command and staff course 2011 – reading list,” Ministry of Defence).

The blurb for a book to which Sookhdeo contributed (Toward a Grand Strategy Against Terrorism), describes him as having been a “cultural advisor to British and/or international coalition forces in Iraq and regions of Afghanistan: Basra, Kabul, and Kandahar” between 2007 and 2010. In [a] Family Research Council talk, Sookhdeo himself has claimed that he helped “write the religious engagement strategy” while “out in Kandahar.”*

White draws attention to Sookhdeo’s conspiratorial views about Islam in the west, and his association with the likes of Robert Spencer and ACT! For America.

Sookhdeo runs the Barnabas Fund, which has done much to publicise the plight of persecuted Christians. However, I have seen a troubling disregard for accuracy or fairness in his some of Sookhdeo’s statements: in 2007 I noted how he had seriously misrepresented the content of a 1980 book of essays by Muslim writers in order to whip up fear about Muslims in the UK , and his response to a critical review by White in 2009 of his Global Jihad book was hysterical and unworthy: he claimed that White’s criticisms had somehow put his life at risk (Melanie Phillips also joined the fray).

Sookhdeo and the Barnabas Fund have also produced a booklet, entitled Slippery Slope: The Islamisation of the UK, which has been distributed to churches – last summer, I came across a copy in a small village church in the depths of the English countryside. Unsurprisingly, Sookhdeo works closely with the UK Christian Right group Christian Concern, which promotes his view that the increasing availability of halal meat is a sign of “Islamisation”.

However, it seems to me that this does not therefore mean that Sookhdeo should be excluded from serious discussion: he has a relevant PhD from SOAS, and his writings have received academic recognition (Global Jihad comes with a foreword from the late military historian Richard Holmes). The Global Defence Forum conference included a range of voices, and Sookhdeo’s presentation was soon afterwards followed by a paper from Tariq Ramadan; the reading list discussed above also has a diversity of perspectives.

On the other hand, though, the idea of Sookhdeo receiving an implicit endorsement through an advisory role with decision-makers in the military is not something that I find encouraging. It is interesting to read, however, that despite his own involvement, he disapproves of “the Western military involvement in Muslim countries” as “a form of neo-colonialism and imperialism”.

White also spoke with Sookhdeo about his theological views regarding the place of Islam in God’s purposes (square brackets in original):

He said that the idea of Islam as the “rod of God’s anger” was “developed by the leadership of the Syrian Orthodox Church about 75 years after the death of [the prophet] Muhammad. Faced with the fact that most of the lands that had constituted Christian territory had been lost in the Arab invasions, the church leadership posed the question why this had occurred. Instead of laying the blame on the Muslims and the Arab invasions, they concluded that it was their own fault because they had sinned and gone away from their faith in God by neglecting to be truly Christian in terms of love and compassion, to be humble and not to be motivated by money and power… This is not a negative comment of Islam, but a negative comment on the Church with her intrinsic weaknesses and failures.”

This is somewhat disingenuous: the notion of Islam as the “rod of God’s anger” clearly fits into a long tradition in which disasters are explained as being expressions of God’s chastisement; being placed into a category of calamities is hardly a positive comment. Further, the expression itself is derived from Isaiah 10, where it is applied to Assyria; the Biblical author suggests that being the “rod of God’s anger” has its downside:

“Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath!”… When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes… Does the ax raise itself above the person who swings it, or the saw boast against the one who uses it?… Therefore, the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will send a wasting disease upon his sturdy warriors;… The Light of Israel will become a fire… The splendor of his forests and fertile fields it will completely destroy…”

Further discussion of how Christians used the “rod of God’s anger” concept in the context of early Islam can be found in a couple essays in the book Redefining Christian Identity: Cultural Interaction in the Middle East Since the Rise of Islam, edited by J.J. van Ginkel, H.L. Murre-van den Berg, and T.M. van Lint (Leuven: Peeters, 2005).

Vulgarized versions of the general concept can also been seen in contemporary American conservative evangelicalism: post-9/11, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell notoriously suggested that God had allowed the attack to occur (which is quite not the same thing as causing it) because of liberalism in American society; a current American bestseller called The Harbinger claims that American failure to return to religion following the attack means that further disasters will occur. Last year, an anti-gay evangelist named Bradlee Dean suggested that God would “raise up” Muslims to execute gay people because of the USA’s unwillingness to implement less severe anti-gay measures.

UPDATE: Sookhdeo has published his full response to White:

Dear Mr White,

Further to your questions in your email of 10 July:

1. I am no longer an advisor to the Permanent Joint Headquarters, nor do I teach there any more. Currently I am a Visiting Professor at the Defence Academy of the UK and also teach there on the subject of culture and other related issues. I am thankful that in some of the courses I teach I now work closely with a number of Muslim sheikhs and we teach the courses together. Also I have been involved in introducing to the Defence Academy a number of key Muslim leaders, Muslim lecturers and Muslim academics who are now actively involved in teaching. The objective of this has been to get the military establishment to engage directly with the full spectrum of Muslim leadership.

2. Yes, I continue to be a Cultural Advisor to the UK Armed Forces. However, since I am now 65 I do not expect to continue in this much longer and certainly not to be deployed again. (For the same reason, I do not expect to continue as a Visiting Professor at the Defence Academy for much longer.)

The role of a Cultural Advisor is often not understood. What I have to impart to senior officers in the field of culture relates firstly to issues of race. Because almost all our deployments are in non-Western contexts, the issue of race is a very relevant one. As a coloured person I have to help white people to understand the sensitivities around race and culture. In relation to this, I would mention that my first book, published in 1970 and banned in South Africa, was on race. Also during more 25 years of living and working in East London, I was involved in providing training on race awareness to theological students, to those involved in social work, and to the police.

The second aspect of a Cultural Advisor is to ensure that the military understand the environment of the context in which they are working, in particular, the local people, and to enable them to be sensitive to cultural differences. The military realise that during the Iraq invasion of 2003 and the subsequent deployment of forces from the UK, US and other Western countries grave mistakes were made. The key area is how to get senior officers to engage positively with culture to ensure that a population-centric approach is adopted and that the local culture and institutions are taken on board. In order to understand my role here, perhaps it is necessary to understand my views of the past eleven years. Initially I supported the Iraq invasion. As I was one of relatively few in the West who had visited Saddam’s Iraq in the 1990s and seen personally the effects of the human rights abuses directed toward the Kurds and Shias (although not towards the Christian community), I believed strongly he should be removed and replaced with a democratic regime. Like many others, I was also lulled into believing the evidence presented by the US and UK governments relating to weapons of mass destruction, which, as we now know, did not exist. Having discovered this at an early stage, I then argued that the Iraq war was illegal. The effects of that war on the population were horrendous, with anything between 100,000 and 1,000,000 dead or injured (the figure which is often quoted is around 600,000). This can be directly attributed to the failure of those who invaded Iraq to take responsibility for the population. Major mistakes were made. Furthermore, I profoundly believe that some kind of enquiry should be held to establish who is accountable for this illegal war. My other chief concern is that those who benefitted from this war were the neo-cons who had argued for it to take place and who grew rich from it. Some 20 billion dollars is still missing; effectively it has been stolen from the Iraqi people.

Regarding the Afghan war, although I supported the initial invasion of 2001 as having legitimacy in terms of UN sanctions, I severely question ISAF’s involvement to date. It has ill-defined aims and a constantly changing strategy. I was Cultural Advisor in the time of General McChrystal, who very rightly moved ISAF towards a population-centric strategy. He stopped the night raids, minimised the use of drones and thus saw a major diminution of civilian casualties. Under President Obama and General Petraeus there has been a radical reversal of this. I believe that the drone policy both in Pakistan (where some 800 civilians have been killed) and in other countries has questionable legal legitimacy and should be subject to international scrutiny. I believe incursions into other people’s territory must only be done with the sanction of the UN and not pursued to further an individual nation’s will or objectives. I believe that policies that see whole societies wracked with pain and grief, with innocent women and children paying the price and suffering intensely, are morally wrong.

With regard to Libya, whilst it was right to have a no-fly zone in order to stop Gaddafi killing his people, I believe that the UN Security Council guidelines were breached. There was no massacre in Benghazi. It is questionable whether NATO forces should have been used in an attack formation, and certainly NATO, together with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, should not have been involved in arming, training and funding the Libyan rebels. I believe that it is likely that NATO went beyond its brief, and questions need to be raised.

As Cultural Advisor I believe it is my role to flag up these issues, including potential human rights abuses, to get commanders to think about what they are doing and the implications of it, so that they consider not just effects by which they judge success or failure, but also the consequences of their attacks when these have such potentially catastrophic repercussions for innocent civilians. The use by the Israelis of white phosphorus on the Palestinian population is a case in point; I believe that this should be investigated by the international community to see if it was a war crime. Yet in all the instances I have listed, little is being done, either by the media, or by politicians or by anyone else. Therefore no one is being held responsible and brought to book, and it is all too likely that the mistakes of the past will be repeated again. As a non-Westerner it is my job to challenge opinions and to raise issues, although I have no power other than the weight of argument.

The presence of British and Western forces, coupled with their foreign policy decisions, have, I believe, contributed substantially to the growing terrorism emanating from Islamic contexts. I have long argued that the Western military involvement in Muslim countries constitutes a form of neo-colonialism and imperialism and is simply creating new hatreds for the future. It is time that British and American forces left Muslim countries to manage their own affairs in whatever fashion they choose.

I am happy to say that there are now an increasing number of Cultural Advisors who are Muslims, and I can only hope that they will continue to raise these issues as I gradually fade out of these areas.

3. Your third question was about the religious engagement strategy in Kandahar. In order to understand culture, one must recognise the role of religion. In Kandahar, for example, it is difficult, indeed well nigh impossible, to separate the Pushtun from his religion. The first aim of the religious engagement strategy was to bring the religious leaders, i.e. the ulema, the mullahs and others, into the tent so that they could relate directly to the military commanders and the commanders could know their mind, their thinking and their wishes. Secondly, it was to ensure that the military delivered in areas of need. For example, when there were huge power shortages during Ramadan, the strategy was to ensure that power was on at the key periods of the day (early morning and evening) so that people could have a hot meal and be in compliance with the Islamic faith. Likewise commanders were to ensure that dates were available for the breaking of the fast each evening, and we were able to engage the UAE to provide the dates. Meat is essential for the Ramadan evening meal, and the animal has to be alive, so these were sourced from other countries. Moving from Ramadan to the Haj, the strategy advised that it should be ensured that the normal ballot to select Muslim individuals to go on haj can happen, and that those who gained a place through the ballot should have their visas facilitated, should be given safe conduct to the airports and then facilitated again on their return. Other areas of the religious engagement strategy were the building of mosques and madrassas as well as training institutions for the next generation of mullahs and ulemas. These are but a few of the practical areas that were involved in developing a religious engagement strategy. Thankfully the strategy continues to be in place, as the person who replaced me was a Muslim and who has now built on the foundation that I laid.

Developing a religious engagement strategy essentially is to get the military leaders to recognise the existence of the religious leaders so that they will relate to them, to get the religious leaders to outline what they want, and then to get the military leaders to supply wherever it is at all possible. For me this has been immensely rewarding as I have been able to work with some of the most senior Muslim leaders in the south of Afghanistan. I think that another plus has been the linkage made between the Muslim leaders in Afghanistan and the leaders of the British Muslim community; this has led to the Muslim leaders in the UK getting actively involved in Afghanistan and visiting and working with the communities there.

4. Your fourth point concerned the idea of Islam as the rod of God’s anger. This concept did not originate with me but was developed by the leadership of the Syrian Orthodox Church about 75 years after the death of Muhammad. Faced with the fact that most of the lands that had constituted Christian territory had been lost in the Arab invasions, the church leadership posed the question why this had occurred. Instead of laying the blame on the Muslims and the Arab invasions, they concluded that it was their own fault because they had sinned and gone away from their faith in God by neglecting to be truly Christian in terms of love and compassion, to be humble and not to be motivated by money and power. They believed that they were therefore experiencing God’s judgement upon them, that God had chosen to use Islam and the Arabs as his instruments of judgement, and that therefore they had to accept this as being the divine will. The phrase that they used – “the rod of God’s anger” – was taken from the book of Isaiah where in chapter 10, verse 5, it is used with reference to the sins of Israel and how God has taken up another nation to inflict massive judgement and punishment on the nation of Israel. Looking at the situation today, rather than blame Islam for the woes of the Church in the West, the question I have raised is whether, like Israel of old or like the leadership of the Syrian Orthodox Church at the turn of the eighth century, the Church today, because of her divisions, her lack of faithfulness to God, her lack of humility and her obsessions, is now experiencing judgement, a judgement that may see the end of Christianity in Europe. In this respect, could it be that Islam, which is now seen to be the dominant religion that may well replace Christianity in the future, can be seen as God’s instrument? This is not a negative comment of Islam, but a negative comment on the Church with her intrinsic weaknesses and failures.

In conclusion, I profoundly believe in a liberal democratic society that practises full human rights and religious liberty for all. In the early 1990s I worked closely with the late Dr Zaki Badawi in opposing the Serbs’ slaughter of Muslims. Today I equally must work for those minorities who find themselves at the receiving end of extremist ideologies. In seeking to do this, currently work with senior sheikhs from Al-Azhar and elsewhere to bring an end to religious violence Consistency and universal values must prevail in all situations.

I have written at considerable length because, while your questions may be short, some detailed answers are necessary, in particular to convey what it is that I try to impart to the military.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo

*In this quote, I have corrected Americanised “Defense” spellings in proper names.

Charlie Flowers Writes Massacre Fantasy, Employs Paedo-Smears

Charlie Flowers has written a disturbing and unpleasant wish-fulfilment fantasy in which he commits a “massacre of the bloggers” at a Sceptics in the Pub event in London. Among those killed is Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads, shot through the eye as he begs for mercy, while I save my life by confessing to being SWP (I’m not). One of Flowers’ friends then takes my mobile phone, which is found to contain evidence that I am supposedly a paedophile. Names are changed – Tim Ireland becomes “Tom Wales”, for example – but it’s obvious, from Flowers’ past accusations, about whom he is violently and feverishly fantasising. The text can be seen here. Naturally, he begins with a jokey introduction: “OK I’ve done with being mature this evening so now we’re going to have a bloody, cathartic… massacre of the bloggers!”; this kind of “distancing” device is a classic symptom of the playground bully.

One would have thought that such an egregiously vile and blatantly unhinged piece of writing would have associates distancing themselves, and real friends suggesting a visit to the doctor. Not so: instead, Flowers has a gang of giggling cronies who get a vicarious thrill from hanging around a middle-aged man who regularly heaps foul and juvenile abuse on others. Flowers explains himself by pointing out that he is opposed to Islamic extremists – therefore, we should infer, anyone who criticises his behaviour must be in league with extremists, and therefore deserving of threats and paedo-smears. This is, of course, the typical bad-faith self-justification of the vigilante.

Flowers posted his fantasy to Facebook, where it was given a “Like” by Allegra Mostyn-Owen. Mostyn-Owen used to be married to Boris Johnson, and she now has a Muslim husband. However, she has maintained contact with Johnson, and she recently announced to a journalist from the Evening Standard that she would soon be joining a new mayoral “Muslim Engagement Task Force”. Oddly, further details about this “Task Force” have been scarce; a recent Daily Mail piece described it as “non-existent or at least mysteriously secret”. Mostyn-Owen also previously added “Likes” to crudely abusive comments made by Flowers.

Flowers’ massacre story is presented as being a chapter from “part two” of a book which he has written; the first part has been posted online as an ebook and comes with an endorsement from Mubin Shaikh. The endorsement looks deliberately ironic (“The most realistic account of undercover ops in the context of Islamist terrorism yet written”), but one wonders why someone wanting to build up a serious reputation as a “Canadian National Security Consultant” would want to be associated with this kind of thing in any way (Shaikh was in the news in 2005 after infiltrating an extremist group in Canada and exposing a terror plot. He recently appeared at an event in London organised by Flowers and involving Mostyn-Owen and Tehmina Kazi of British Muslims for Secular Democracy; Kazi knows exactly what Flowers is like, but she considers his behaviour to be none of her concern. Indeed, she even passes on information to him).

Flowers forced himself into my life at the end of 2008, when he contacted me about his involvement with Dominic Wightman’s defunct “terror-tracker” VIGIL organisation. In 2009 Flowers was involved in harassment against former associates of VIGIL who had come to realise that Wightman was dishonest; Flowers turned on Tim and me after Wightman’s attempts to mislead us about one of these associates backfired. Since that time, there has been a sporadic stream of abusive messages and hit-and-run one-page attack blogs, some of which include goading comments about my lack of importance. Clearly, between those periods there are long brooding nights of sanguinary imaginings.

Bradlee Dean Complains of Judge’s “Prejudice” against “Conservative Christian Advocacy”

Several websites have noted the latest developments in Bradlee Dean’s lawsuit against Rachel Maddow and MSNBC. WND‘s Bob Unrah summarized Dean’s case last summer:

Dean, a renowned hard metal rocker who became a Christian after suffering a hard life as a young boy, has dedicated his life to his ministry’s mission, the group said.

He once made a statement on the radio criticizing his fellow Christians for not taking a stronger stand about the “gay” rights lobby promoting homosexuality in schools. According to the ministry announcement, he made a strong reference to Muslims taking the issue more seriously than Christians, referring to Islamic law, but did not condone their practices. It was Bradlee’s intent to focus attention on the issue, not to advocate harm to anyone, the statement said.

Despite the clear statement by Dean on his ministry’s website and elsewhere that he was not calling for the execution of homosexuals, according to the announcement, “MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and others seized on and accused Dean on her show of supporting the killing of homosexuals, as is the practice in some radical Islamic countries. This seriously has harmed Dean and the ministry, who pride themselves on respect and love for all people.”

Unrah also helpfully quoted Dean’s words:

Muslims are calling for the execution for homosexuals in America, this was just released yesterday and it shows you that they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible, the Judeo Christian God. They seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do. Because these people are livid about enforcing their laws, they know homosexuality is an abomination. And I continually reach out to the homosexual communities on this radio show, and I warn them, which ones love? Here you have Obama condemning it behind the backs of the homosexuals but to their faces he’s promoting it. I say this to my gay friends out there the ones that continuously nitpick everything I say. Hollywood is promoting immorality and the God of the Heavens in Jesus names is warning you to flee from the wrath to come, yet you have Muslims calling for your execution. If America won’t enforce the laws, God will raise up a foreign enemy to do just that’s what you’re seeing in America today. Read Leviticus 26 America.

This was of some wider interest because Dean’s “You Can Run But You Cannot Hide” ministry had previously received an endorsement from Michele Bachmann (“They’re way on course. Because they get it. They get what this is all about.”), and he has links with other Republicans in Minnesota (in May 2011 Dean was invited to give the opening prayer at the at the Minnesota House of Representatives, which he used as an opportunity to attack Obama)

Think Progress found some earlier quotes from Dean on the same subject of homosexuality, such as the following from 2010:

The question I wanted to know is: “What did our forefathers have to say about it?” And I’m beginning to tell ya, I mean, for example, I went back to Thomas Jefferson. He was writing a bill to penalize sodomy by castration. George Washington would basically send forth the pipers and the drummers and he would drum them out shamefully, never to come back again. And then I began to read off state statutes, and they absolutely did not tolerate crimes against nature whatsoever. Again, all the way up until 1961, you’d go to prison for 20-21 years if you were caught in the act of sodomy. In Rhode Island, it was considered a mental illness, and folks, it is.

It appears that Dean believes that Muslims are being “raised up” by God to execute gay people because the USA has failed to imprison (or perhaps even castrate) gay people, but we should not infer from this that Dean himself favours executions.

Dean, advised by Larry Klayman, apparently believes that Maddow’s failure to tease out this subtle distinction should be worth $50 million; Klayman himself, speaking on Bachmann’s own radio show, crowed that Maddow’s career was “over”. Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent was also included in the original complaint; the lawsuit accused him of being a “secularist and/or atheist and gay activist with a politically left ideology who despises people of faith, including but not limited to the Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.”

Alas, however, the lawsuit is not going well; as LeftMN explains, Dean and Klayman filed a case in the District of Columbia Superior Court, only to be met with a “Special Motion to Dismiss” on the grounds that the lawsuit was a SLAPP. To counter this, Dean and Klayman withdrew the case from the Superior Court with the intention of going to a federal court instead:

But meanwhile, back before Judge Zeldon in Superior Court, the defendants were raising holy hell about all the work they’d done only to have the plaintiffs try to walk away from the action.  This did not fall on deaf ears, and on April 23, Judge Zeldon re-opened the case.  On May 7, the defendants moved the court for an order granting them attorneys’ fees for all of the time they’d wasted.  They’d been defending the action for months, only to have Dean and YCRBYCH go all Emily Litella on them and say “Nevermind.”

Judge Zeldon agreed that this had been a monumental – and expensive – waste of time.  On June 25 ordered Dean to pay $24,625.23 to MSNBC’s and Maddow’s lawyers if he wanted to dismiss the Superior Court action without prejudice.

Another problem is that the Superior Court has no jurisdiction over Birkey; and if Dean wished to sue him in Minnesota he would need to go to a state court rather than a federal court, since they both live in Minnesota.

Dean and Klayman have decided that the best way to deal with this is to impugn the judge as a “woman scorned”. As Ed Brayton observes:

Yeah, that’s the way to be taken seriously by a judge, insulting her with sexist stereotypes. I’m sure that will work out well for you.

Ed also draws attention to other passages from their legal complaint, noting that it “is full of little more than political rhetoric, not legal arguments”. The document seems to be primarily an attempt to establish a narrative of persecution for the benefit of supporters: Klayman accuses the judge of “extra-judicial bias and prejudice against me and YCR stemming from our conservative Christian advocacy against the so-called gay and lesbian agenda”, and it attacks her for failing to agree that the $24,625 fee is “inflated and fraudulent”.

Klayman’s setback with Dean comes a month after a lawsuit brought on behalf of WND‘s Joseph Farah was dismissed; Ed again:

Joseph Farah and the Worldnutdaily, represented by Larry Klayman (aka the worst lawyer in America), filed a lawsuit against Esquire for making fun of them and their birther bullshit. A federal judge has, unsurprisingly, dismissed that lawsuit and supported the First Amendment. You can read the full ruling here.

Farah wanted $120 million for Esquire‘s satirical blogpost.

It should be noted that Klayman sees no contradiction between these antics and railing against Islamic “lawfare”. Klayman was also part of the anti-“Ground Zero Mosque” bandwagon, filing a lawsuit and taking part in Pam Geller’s 10 September 2010 protest.