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February 10, 2016 2

The Marrakesh Declaration

By Rabbi David Fox Sand­mel
ADL Direc­tor of Inter­faith Affairs

As a pro­fes­sional in the Jew­ish com­mu­nity who works on inter­faith rela­tions, I am often asked “why aren’t Mus­lims speak­ing out against ter­ror­ism and ISIS?” The answer is that, in fact, many Mus­lims have done so. Equally impor­tant is for reli­gious lead­ers to speak out and address the root causes of extrem­ism in their com­mu­nity, and find ways of dis­cour­ag­ing ter­ror­ist activ­ity, par­tic­u­larly among youth who are con­sid­ered among the most sus­cep­ti­ble pop­u­la­tions. In this regard, one of the most hope­ful ini­tia­tives, some­thing that has not got­ten much atten­tion in the main­stream media, is the “Mar­rakesh Dec­la­ra­tion,” released at the end of last month.

The “Mar­rakesh Dec­la­ra­tion” is the prod­uct of a gath­er­ing of Mus­lim lead­ers from more than 100 coun­tries around the world spon­sored by the Moroc­can gov­ern­ment and the Forum for Pro­mot­ing Peace in Mus­lim Soci­eties.  At the meet­ing, Mus­lim lead­ers heard sev­eral tes­ti­monies about the grave sit­u­a­tion of var­i­ous reli­gious minori­ties in Muslim-majority countries.

Marrakesh Declaration

At the end of the meet­ing, the Mus­lim schol­ars who gath­ered in Mar­rakesh released the “Mar­rakesh Dec­la­ra­tion,” a brief state­ment that in which they:

  • Call upon Mus­lim schol­ars and intel­lec­tu­als around the world to develop a jurispru­dence of the con­cept of “cit­i­zen­ship” which is inclu­sive of diverse groups. Such jurispru­dence shall be rooted in Islamic tra­di­tion and prin­ci­ples and mind­ful of global changes.
  • Urge Mus­lim edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions and author­i­ties to con­duct a coura­geous review of edu­ca­tional cur­ric­ula that addresses hon­estly and effec­tively any mate­r­ial that insti­gates aggres­sion and extrem­ism, leads to war and chaos, and results in the destruc­tion of our shared societies;
  • Call upon politi­cians and deci­sion mak­ers to take the polit­i­cal and legal steps nec­es­sary to estab­lish a con­sti­tu­tional con­trac­tual rela­tion­ship among its cit­i­zens, and to sup­port all for­mu­la­tions and ini­tia­tives that aim to for­tify rela­tions and under­stand­ing among the var­i­ous reli­gious groups in the Mus­lim World;
  • Call upon the edu­cated, artis­tic, and cre­ative mem­bers of our soci­eties, as well as orga­ni­za­tions of civil soci­ety, to estab­lish a broad move­ment for the just treat­ment of reli­gious minori­ties in Mus­lim coun­tries and to raise aware­ness as to their rights, and to work together to ensure the suc­cess of these efforts.
  • Call upon the var­i­ous reli­gious groups bound by the same national fab­ric to address their mutual state of selec­tive amne­sia that blocks mem­o­ries of cen­turies of joint and shared liv­ing on the same land; we call upon them to rebuild the past by reviv­ing this tra­di­tion of con­vivi­al­ity, and restor­ing our shared trust that has been eroded by extrem­ists using acts of ter­ror and aggression;
  • Call upon rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the var­i­ous reli­gions, sects and denom­i­na­tions to con­front all forms of reli­gious big­otry, vil­i­fi­ca­tion, and den­i­gra­tion of what peo­ple hold sacred, as well as all speech that pro­mote hatred and big­otry; AND FINALLY,
  • AFFIRM that it is uncon­scionable to employ reli­gion for the pur­pose of aggress­ing upon the rights of reli­gious minori­ties in Mus­lim countries.

Lest any­one think that this is a depar­ture from “tra­di­tional” Islamic teach­ing, the Mar­rakesh Dec­la­ra­tion explic­itly traces its ances­try to the Char­ter (or Con­sti­tu­tion) of Med­ina.  Accord­ing to Mus­lim tra­di­tion, this Char­ter was writ­ten by the prophet Muham­mad in 622 C.E. in an effort to end polit­i­cal strife in the city; it guar­an­tees auton­omy and free­dom of reli­gion to the res­i­dence of Med­ina, includ­ing, explic­itly, its Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion.  While the Char­ter is not a mod­ern doc­u­ment and reflects the his­tor­i­cal set­ting in which it was cre­ated, the prin­ci­ple of reli­gious free­dom is found in the Quran itself and other clas­sic Islamic sources.

The threat of Mus­lim extrem­ism is real, dan­ger­ous, and must be taken seri­ously; even though it rep­re­sents a small minor­ity of Mus­lims, we have wit­nessed its tragic con­se­quences.  The vast major­ity of Mus­lims (and let us not for­get that it is Mus­lims them­selves who are most often the tar­get of these extrem­ists) reject the ter­ror­ists and their ide­ol­ogy.  The Mar­rakesh Dec­la­ra­tion is an impor­tant, but cer­tainly not the only, exam­ple of Mus­lims speak­ing unequiv­o­cally, from their own tra­di­tion, against extrem­ism, ter­ror, and the infringe­ment of reli­gious free­dom.  It is a pity that this and other efforts have not gar­nered the atten­tion they deserve.

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December 3, 2015 Off

Bonnie and Clydes Rare—But Not Unheard Of—In Violent Extremism

Syed Farook

Syed Farook

Back­ground infor­ma­tion on Syed Farook and Tash­feen Malik, the mar­ried per­pe­tra­tors of the tragic mass shoot­ing at the Inland Regional Cen­ter in San Bernardino, Cal­i­for­nia, is still sparse, as is clar­ity con­cern­ing the motive behind the vicious attack that left 14 dead and 21 wounded.

How­ever, accord­ing to media reports from the in-progress inves­ti­ga­tion, there is grow­ing con­cern among law enforce­ment offi­cials that the shoot­ings may have had a con­nec­tion to Islamic extrem­ism or that there might have been a mixed extremist/workplace motive behind them.  The FBI has said that it is now treat­ing its inves­ti­ga­tion of the killings as a counter-terrorism investigation.

One thing that is exceed­ingly rare in tra­di­tional work­place shoot­ings is for there to be mul­ti­ple per­pe­tra­tors, as there was in this case.  As one law enforce­ment offi­cial told The New York Times, “You don’t take your wife to a work­place shoot­ing, and espe­cially not as pre­pared as they were.  He could have been rad­i­cal­ized, ready to go with some type of attack, and then had a dis­pute at work and decided to do something.”

Mul­ti­ple per­pe­tra­tors are cer­tainly com­mon in extremist-related crimes, of course, despite the exis­tence of the “lone wolf” phe­nom­e­non.  Women are also fre­quently involved in extremist-related crim­i­nal activ­ity in almost every extrem­ist move­ment in the United States.

How­ever, when one exam­ines recent crim­i­nal cases in the U.S. involv­ing domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists, one finds that female part­ners of male perpetrators—even when them­selves involved in crim­i­nal activities—have not typ­i­cally engaged in vio­lence.  Over­seas, women have some­times taken on more vio­lent roles, includ­ing as sui­cide bombers.

If an Islamic extrem­ist motive is con­firmed in the San Bernardino shoot­ings, the fact of husband-and-wife shoot­ers would be a new wrin­kle in the his­tory of the vio­lent tac­tics of that move­ment in the United States.

Extremist-related vio­lence involv­ing hus­bands and wives—or non-married partners—is actu­ally not unheard of in the United States, but it tends to come from a very dif­fer­ent source:  right-wing extrem­ism.  Though not what one could call a com­mon phe­nom­e­non, such vio­lent “Bon­nie and Clyde” cou­ples do emerge with reg­u­lar­ity from within both the white suprema­cist and anti-government extrem­ist move­ments in the United States.

In fact, right-wing extrem­ism even pro­duced an exam­ple of the exceed­ingly rare phe­nom­e­non of a mar­ried cou­ple both of whom were on death row:  anti-government extrem­ists Linda Lyon Block and George Sib­ley.  In 1993, the two sov­er­eign cit­i­zens non-fatally stabbed Block’s ex-husband, then while on the run mur­dered an Alabama police offi­cer in a shootout.  Both were exe­cuted in the 2000s.

In more recent years, extrem­ist cou­ples have been involved with every­thing from stand­offs with police to hate crimes to ter­ror­ist con­spir­a­cies.  But some of the most shock­ing “Bon­nie and Clyde” inci­dents have involved mul­ti­ple homi­cides com­mit­ted by white suprema­cists and anti-government extremists:

  • Jerad and Amanda Miller, a young mar­ried cou­ple who adhered to the anti-government ide­ol­ogy of the mili­tia move­ment, tar­geted two Las Vegas police offi­cers for assas­si­na­tion in June 2014, killing them at a pizza restau­rant as they ate their Sun­day lunch.  The cou­ple crossed the street to a Wal-mart in antic­i­pa­tion of a final shootout with first respon­ders, where Amanda killed an armed civil­ian try­ing to stop them.  As they had intended, they did both die dur­ing a shootout with law enforce­ment at the store, with a wounded Amanda killing her­self after Jerad was shot.
  • Jeremy and Chris­tine Moody, white suprema­cists from Union County, South Car­olina, killed a nearby mar­ried cou­ple in July 2013 in a par­tic­u­larly grisly dou­ble homi­cide in which both vic­tims were shot and stabbed.  The Moodys had tar­geted the vic­tim because they wanted to kill a reg­is­tered sex offender and found the male victim’s name and address on the Inter­net.  They killed his wife because she had mar­ried a sex offender.  Both pleaded guilty to mur­der in 2014, receiv­ing life sen­tences with no parole, but were unre­pen­tant, with Chris­tine Moody call­ing the day of the mur­ders “the best day of my life.”
  • Holly Grigsby and David Ped­er­sen, a white suprema­cist cou­ple from Ore­gon, embarked upon a multi-state mur­der spree in 2011 that totaled four killed before police could find and stop them.  The pair trav­eled to Wash­ing­ton to mur­der Pederson’s father and step­mother, each killing one vic­tim, then killed a young man in Ore­gon to steal his car and because they thought he might be Jew­ish.  They killed an African-American man in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia in another car­jack­ing attempt, though they did not end up tak­ing the vehi­cle, then were finally appre­hended by the Cal­i­for­nia High­way Patrol.  Grigsby told the arrest­ing offi­cers that they were to Sacra­mento to “kill more Jews” when they were stopped.  Both pleaded guilty to a vari­ety of crimes and received life sentences.

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December 12, 2014 1

Anti-Semite Gordon Duff Discusses Israeli Control of U.S. In Syria

The Syr­ian government’s Coun­tert­er­ror­ism and Reli­gious Extrem­ism Con­fer­ence fea­tured remarks by Amer­i­can anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist Gor­don Duff dur­ing which he described the U.S. as being con­trolled by Israel.

Gordon Duff speaking at conference

Gor­don Duff speak­ing at the conference

Senior edi­tor at Vet­er­ans Today, a web­site that presents anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries as news, Duff described him­self as the “U.S. Keynote Speaker” at the con­fer­ence. Dur­ing his remarks, Duff told his audi­ence that “I do believe there are areas of mis­un­der­stand­ing [about] how the United States works politically…It’s very dif­fi­cult to under­stand what has hap­pened as far as Israeli con­trol of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, and I will, as suc­cinctly as pos­si­ble, I will explain this to you.”

Duff also elab­o­rated on the Vet­er­ans Today delegation’s objec­tive while in Syria, stat­ing, “It’s our goal here while we are here to try to estab­lish a method of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that will allow Syria and other nations in the area to under­stand Israel’s con­trol of the U.S., the con­trol of the U.S. by orga­nized crime, and how the U.S. gov­ern­ment is sub­servient to a world­wide crim­i­nal organization.”

Duff also invoked con­spir­acy the­o­ries about Jew­ish con­trol of the U.S. gov­ern­ment, claim­ing that the Supreme Court case Cit­i­zens United v. Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion “turned con­trol of the Con­gress of the United States over to human traf­fick­ers, nar­cotics traf­fick­ers, and par­tic­u­lar the most pow­er­ful indi­vid­ual in the United States today, a gam­bling boss named Shel­don Adel­son, an Israeli cit­i­zen who fled the U.S. liv­ing in Macau.” Duff alleges that Adel­son “spent over one bil­lion dol­lars in the last elec­tion and bought con­trol of both houses of Con­gress, now Sen­a­tor John McCain, the father of al-Nusra, the father of ISIS, will be run­ning U.S.  leg­isla­tive and mil­i­tary for­eign policy.”

With­out spec­i­fy­ing about whom he is speak­ing, Duff also states in his remarks that “their moti­va­tion is largely eco­nomic, they’re a crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion but they’re part of a world­wide crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion and they’re here in your ter­ri­tory tak­ing your things, your fac­to­ries, your lives, your peo­ple, for the enrich­ment of a very spe­cific group of peo­ple who need to be held to account…”

Gor­don Duff’s audi­ence at the conference

Duff, who describes him­self as “one of the top global intel­li­gence spe­cial­ists” and one who “reg­u­larly con­sults with gov­ern­ments” also claimed that Syr­i­ans have him to thank for pre­vent­ing the U.S. from bomb­ing Syria after “false-flag gas attacks near Aleppo.” He con­tin­ued, “It was our orga­ni­za­tion here that sup­plied the intel­li­gence that stopped those attacks.”

The con­fer­ence in Syria, held on Novem­ber 30 and Decem­ber 1, brought together rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 25 coun­tries with Syr­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cials who report­edly harshly crit­i­cized the U.S. led anti-ISIS coali­tion and sug­gested an “Inter­na­tional Coun­tert­er­ror­ism Forum” be estab­lished in Dam­as­cus instead to deal with this issue. Syr­ian Prime Min­is­ter Wael Nader al-Halqi and Jus­tice Min­is­ter Najm al-Ahmad also spoke at the con­fer­ence. Duff describes al-Ahmad as being “extremely help­ful” in bring­ing the Vet­er­ans Today group to Syria.

Addi­tion­ally, accord­ing to Syr­ian offi­cial media, Head of Hezbol­lah’s Arab Affairs Divi­sion, Sheik Has­san Ezzil Deen attended the conference.

Four of the eight Amer­i­cans  who par­tic­i­pated in the con­fer­ence were from Vet­er­ans Today, includ­ing Jim Dean, a man­ag­ing edi­tor for Vet­er­ans Today who has made claims of Israeli con­trol of Amer­ica, Colonel Jim Hanke who claims to be a for­mer mil­i­tary attaché to Israel, and Mike Har­ris, who has ties to mem­bers of the neo-Nazi National Social­ist Move­ment (NSM) and has claimed that Zion­ists are respon­si­ble for a num­ber of mass shoot­ings in Amer­ica.

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