Former FBI Agent on Park51 Opposition: Bin Laden's "Next Video Script has Just Written Itself"
George W. said it best at the end of 2001: "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror." Those opposing the construction of new mosques in the U.S. -- it's certainly not about "Ground Zero" -- have made their choice. Here's Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent who had interrogated a number of dangerous terrorists before resigning from the agency in 2005, making the case in Time Magazine:
The furor over the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero makes me think back to one of the most important lessons I learned from al Qaeda terrorists I interrogated--that they have a warped view of America. To them--and this they get from Osama Bin Laden's rhetoric--the U.S. is a country at war with Islam and Muslims, and so they had a duty to fight us. While I was serving on the frontlines I found that this distorted view of America was common among ordinary Muslims too, and it was only by correcting this image did we encourage locals to help our investigations and turn against al Qaeda. Our efforts were helped by public statements, like from President Bush in the days after 9/11, declaring that America was at war with al Qaeda and not with Islam. I was in Sana, Yemen, on that day, and I remember our military and law enforcement group feeling encouraged that our leadership understood how to frame our battle. But while we started off on the right note in dealing with the Muslim world, our leadership soon demonstrated that they failed to understand that our war against al Qaeda was not just a military fight, but an asymmetrical battle for the proverbial hearts and minds of Muslims across the world too. We should have been highlighting that al Qaeda has killed thousands of Muslims and blown up dozens of mosques around the world. But instead we failed to appreciate the importance of rebutting al Qaeda's propaganda and of turning ordinary Muslims against the terror network.[...] There are many reasons for supporting the Muslim community's right to build a cultural center and mosque on private property, not least of all the First Amendment of the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion. But from a national security perspective, our leaders need to understand that no one is likely to be happier with the opposition to building a mosque than Osama Bin Laden. His next video script has just written itself. The potential damage to our national security is not only to our work abroad, but at home too...When demagogues appear to be equating Islam with terrorism, it's making young Muslims unsure about their place in the country. It bolsters the message that radicalizers are selling: That the war is against Islam, and Muslims are not welcome in America.Osama Bin Laden's "next video script has just written itself." Shorter Soufan: These assholes are going to get people killed.