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September 10, 2014

Former Revolution Muslim Imam Encourages Support for ISIS

Imam Abdullah Al-Faisal, former spiritual leader of the now-defunct Revolution Muslim (RM)organization, continues to actively preach hatred and extremism online in English and now actively encourages his followers to support the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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Ad for the Authentic Tauheed conference supporting ISIS

In an online conference this weekend, Al-Faisal and three other extremist, English-speaking clerics spoke for a collective 200 minutes on the theme of support for ISIS and its self-proclaimed Caliphate.

Two of the clerics who spoke in addition to Al-Faisal have also been known to incite extremism. One, Atila Ahmed from London (also known as Abu Abdullah) was reportedly sentenced to nearly seven years in prison in 2008 on charges of soliciting murder. The second, Mizanur Rahman from London (also known as Abu Baraa), was convicted of hate speech and solicitation to murder in 2006.

Remarks during the conference ranged from endorsement of ISIS to anti-Semitism and anti-LGBT statements, including:

  • “Who are those that reject the Dawla (ISIS)?…The people that claim that the sharia is not important, don’t think about the sharia, think about themselves.” (Al-Faisal)
  • “When you see that the Dawla cut off the heads of Shi’as you will think that’s extreme, these people are crazy…first of all, the classical scholars did not consider Shi’as as Muslims…you don’t know what the Shi’as believe and you don’t know why the Dawla is so harsh against the Shi’as.” (Al-Faisal)
  • “All the other groups especially in Iraq don’t have as strong a commitment to implementing Sharia as the Dawla and…Dawla is conquering town after town.” (Abu Ruqayyah)
  • “What about ourselves sitting on our backsides eating cakes and biscuits at home while they’re [ISIS fighters] struggling to bring honor to the community of Islam?”
  • “All you Muslims that vote, you have the blood of Muslims that are killed by the West on your hands… by giving your allegiance to kuffar (apostates) and the man-made laws…” (Abu Abdullah)
  •  “Did you know that they say Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is a Jew? When they accuse Abu bakr al Baghdadi of being a Jew, what are they? They are nothing but the barking dogs of jahhanam (hell).” (Al-Faisal)
  • “If you say something against the Zionist Jews or the Jews that died in the wars at the hands of Hitler and you don’t accept it, they could put you into prison. This is the freedom that the Muslims are voting for.” (Abu Abdullah)
  • “So by these they [homosexuals] are preying on our children in schools. They say the integration, the acceptance of democracy is brainwashing our children into accepting homosexuality. They’re trying to make our children like them [gay]. As you see if they’re pumping it day and night on the news on these shows all full of homosexuals and lesbians.” (Abu Abdullah)

These remarks are consistent with statements that Al-Faisal has been making via his Authentic Tauheed website and on his personal Twitter account for months.

In July, Al-Faisal copied the official ISIS version of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s biography in English onto his website and presented a lecture encouraging students to learn from and about Baghdadi and ISIS.  Similarly, in a July lecture posted on his site, he stated, “There is no doubt that he (Bagdadhi) is the legitimate caliph and it is incumbent upon you to give your be’ah (allegiance),” later adding, “So take up arms, take up arms, O soldiers of the Islamic State! And fight, fight!”

On his Twitter account, where this weekend’s conference was advertised, Al-Faisal’s tweets have included:

  • “The #Islamicstate has no borders because we are meant to be #mujahideen sans frontiers #ISIS” (August 20)
  • “Why should #Jews commit genocide and then play the race card to defend themselves. To me, #Hitler was right.”(September 2)

    abdullah-al-faisal-twitter-isis

    Via Abdullah Al-Faisal’s Twitter feed

  • “Our females make us proud by joining IS (The Islamic State, or ISIS).” (September 9)
  • “Any Mujahid [religious fighter] who doesn’t give his bayah (allegiance) to Dawla (ISIS) is a fake Jihadi and his death will b in vain. So please b warned.” (September 9)

Al-Faisal has also used Twitter conversations to encourage others to follow his views. In comments to one of his posts written on September 4, al-Faisal was asked whether the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a “good resource to understand the zionist’s [sic] and their plan.” Al-Faisal responded, “I was taught the protocols of zion [sic] in Univ. Hence I would recommend it as an excellent source of knowledge.”

In the same conversation, Al-Faisal was asked, “Shaikh I recently became Muslim but am still in High School how do you recommend I seek knowledge?” Al-Faisal directed the asker to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and also to a link on the Authentic Tauheed site that, in summarizing principles of Islam, states, “There is a Quranic verse where Allah (SWT) pronounced Jews and Christians as Kuffar (apostates) even before the hujjah (in this context, punishment for not following Islam) was established against them.”

Prior to his support for ISIS, al-Faisal was a known supporter of al Qaeda, and once condemned Anwar al Awlaki, who afterward went on to become al Qaeda’s chief English-language propagandist, for not being radical enough.

Al-Faisal has previously been jailed for his violent preaching. In 2003, al-Faisal was sentenced in a court in London to nine years for inciting racial hatred and murder. The sentence was later reduced to seven years and in May 2007 he was paroled and deported to Jamaica.

In his UK sermons prior to his arrest, Al-Faisal encouraged Muslims who are 15 and older to get weapon training during school vacations and to assume a “jihad mentality.” In his speeches he said that non-Muslims, including Hindus and Jews, should be killed like “cockroaches.” In one lecture he said that the “filthy Jews [were] evil to the core.” In a recorded speech that was carried shortly after the September 11 attack and presented as evidence at the trial, Al-Faisal, argued that it is “permissible to drop bombs on a kuffar (apostate) nation” and that women and children who may be hurt are “collateral damage” and Muslims will “become martyrs.”

Al-Faisal’s Authentic Tauheed site, on which this weekend’s conference took place and where he regularly posts his lectures, is hosted on the PalTalk website, which bills itself as a “free videochat community.” It also maintains two Twitter feeds distinct from al-Faisal’s feed. Al-Faisal has been using the service since at least 2008. The word tauheed (sometimes spelled tawhid) is an Islamic term referring to monotheism.

Al-Faisal was perhaps best known as the spiritual guide for RM, a fringe anti-Semitic Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tion that jus­ti­fied ter­ror­ist attacks and other forms of vio­lence for many years. RM distributed al-Faisal’s CDs and posts videos of his lectures and his writings to its Web site, and donations to RM were believed to possibly support Faisal financially.

He is also believed to have played a role in the radicalization of Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber” and Jermaine Lindsay, one of the bombers behind the July 7, 2005 attacks on London’s transit system.

Abdullah Ibrahim Al-Faisal (also spelled El-Faisal) was born Trevor Forrest in Jamaica. He converted to Islam when he was 16 and moved to Britain as a young man. In 1992, after several years of studying religion in Saudi Arabia, he returned to Britain and became a preacher at the Brixton Mosque in London, where he delivered very radical speeches to crowds of up to 500 worshipers.

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July 28, 2014

Anti-Semitic Incidents at Anti-Israel Demonstrations Continue in Europe

Over the past days, anti-Semitic incidents continue to plague European Jewish communities, often in connection with anti-Israel demonstrations.

Just one hour after an anti-Israel demonstration in Toulouse, France, on Saturday, Molotov cocktails were thrown at a Jewish community center and at the police guarding the center.

French media reported on an anti-Israel march on Saturday in Paris, where they heard people saying “We’re ruled by the Zionists” and others responding, “They’re the worst race.”

Last night, swastikas were spray-painted in a heavily Jewish area of London and also in Rome’s historic Jewish quarter.

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A poster was also plastered on walls in Rome. Featuring a white-power Celtic cross, it equates – positively – Italian fascists and Palestinians and says they have a common enemy, unstated but obviously, the Jews.

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The good news is that the governments in France, Germany, and Italy, the three countries where the majority of incidents have occurred, have responded well.  French President Hollande and Prime Minister Valls, German Chancellor Merkel, and the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Italy collectively, have made clear statements that such attacks on their Jewish communities are intolerable, and they have matched those words with strong law enforcement.

At a demonstration in Berlin on Friday, there were almost as many police as demonstrators.  CRIF, the representative organization of the French Jewish community, thanked the Paris police today for preventing attempts by anti-Israel demonstrators on Saturday from going to the Marais historic Jewish quarter or the synagogues near Place de la Republique, where 5,000 people had assembled despite a ban on the demonstration.

On Friday, Germany’s largest circulation paper, Bild, featured statements against anti-Semitism from politicians, business leaders, civic leaders, media personalities, and celebrities with “Never Again Jew Hatred” on the front page.

Importantly, both the French and German leaders have said these attacks are not just against Jews, but attacks against the state and against the constitutional order.  They are not playing referee between pro-Palestinian protesters and Jews, but are rightly saying this fight is between violent anti-Semites and the rest of society.

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February 27, 2014

Major Arab Newspaper Publishes “Anti-Jewish Slogans Are Not Islamic”

The decision to re-publish a critique of anti-Semitism by Al Quds Al Arabi, the third largest circulated offshore pan-Arab newspaper according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, could signal a move toward greater pluralism and diversity of views in the Arab press, which is often dominated by anti-Jewish and anti-Israel narratives.al-quds-al-arabi-sinem-tezyaparin-jew

Arab journalism has been a major platform for important debate and discussion about the question of religious intolerance in connection with discrimination against Muslims and the defamation of Islam. So far, however, it has been reticent to address the problem of religious intolerance more broadly, including anti-Semitism.

The article, written by Turkish journalist Sinem Tezyapar in September 2013 and titled “Anti-Jewish Slogans Are Not Islamic,” appeared on the London-based Arabic-language Al Quds Al Arabi website on February 24.

Al Quds Al Arabi, previously known for its hostile positions toward Israel, reportedly changed its ownership last year and replaced its editor. These changes may explain the decision to republish the article.

In her article, Tezyapar argues that anti-Jewish narratives contradict Qur’anic teachings and that Muslims are obliged to take a stronger position against anti-Jewish statements. “Jews are the descendants of Prophets like Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon (peace be upon them all),” she writes. “A Muslim cannot be silent in the face of those who try to annihilate the descendants of Prophets.”

The article rejects attempts to misuse some Qur’anic verses to promote anti-Jewish narratives and expresses clear support for, “The Jewish right to live in the Holy Land,” indicating that such a right “is granted in the Qur’an by God. God says; ‘And thereafter We said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land.’”

“It is against the right conscience, and more importantly, it is against the Qur’an to tell Jews to go somewhere else,” she writes. In verse after verse, Tezyapar promotes a positive message to convey that “Muslims and Jews can live side by side in peace.”

Hopefully the decision by Al Quds Al Arabi to publish Tezyapar’s article is a sign that Arab media will find more opportunities to feature courageous and honest voices against all forms of religious hatred, including anti-Semitism.

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