The Texas “Islamist Terror Enclave” That Wasn’t
This isn’t a new story, but since I commented on it extensively in one of the main threads, I figured I might as well turn it into a Page in case it ever comes up.
Back in mid-February right-wing activists had their fainting couches out over a Clarion Project article I first heard about via the Google alerts I have set up to look for exactly this type of clickbait yellow journalism that attempts to pass itself off as legitimate “news” based on serious investigation, Exclusive: Islamist Terror Enclave Discovered in Texas (WebCite link as I’d rather not give Clarion any direct traffic). As is typical, it was full of very ominous sounding “proof” and was accompanied by a photo of empty ammunition shells found “in the area” (not at all difficult in TX):
A Clarion Project investigation has discovered a jihadist enclave in Texas where a deadly shooting took place in 2002. Declassified FBI documents obtained by Clarion confirm the find and show the U.S. government’s concern about its links to terrorism. The investigation was completed with help from ACT! For America Houston.
The enclave belongs to the network of Muslims of the Americas, a radical group linked to a Pakistani militant group called Jamaat ul-Fuqra. Its members are devoted followers of Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, an extremist cleric in Pakistan. […]
When I see “Clarion Project investigation” and note that they say they were assisted by ACT! For America Houston, I immediately assume the story is false. Why? Well, if you’re not familiar with their past scare mongering, innuendo, and half-truths, you can start by reading this article from 2008 by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Jewish Extremists Behind “Obsession” (the film was distributed by Clarion).
Additionally, as the Southern Poverty Law Center points out in its 2011 Intelligence Report, ACT! For America’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, “is closely aligned with the American political right on many fronts, has repeatedly made statements that conflate all Muslims with terrorists.”
Last but not least, Ryan Mauro, the Clarion Project’s “National Security Analyst” has a long & ugly history as well. You can read more about him in this article written by LGF’s owner, Charles Johnson: Ryan Mauro and the Christian Action Network. Mauro not only wrote the original article on February 18, he followed up with another on February 23, and yet another on February 25, in which he points out that Rep. Louie “Terror Babies” Gohmert (R-TX), Vice Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, is totally on board with ramping up the fear: “This lackluster response to the threat of terrorist involvement is more than troubling—it’s appalling, but typical.”
The Dissemination of the Story
So back to the story of the “Islamist Terror Enclave”. Naturally, Fox News and all the right-wing and anti-Muslim blogs dutifully began hyperventilating over it. Here are the 88,900 results Google returns for a search of the article title. Never one to pass up an opportunity to spew her venom, the ever hateful Pamela Geller claimed via one of her WND articles that Texas police are doubling as their militia (link to Google search results). Yes, really. Police. In Texas. Let that sink in for a minute.
What Islamophobia? There’s no such thing, some will tell you.
So I waited.
Sure enough, about three weeks later, on March 10, KHOU in Houston published a short article debunking the whole thing after the police chief from nearby Freeport went out there to take a look:
“The best description would be just a trailer park in the country,” he said. […]
The view from the road, however, is underwhelming. Kids can be seen playing, chickens roam free, and nothing appears to be out of sorts.
Neighbors say the Muslims have lived there for years without any problems:
“They help us, we help them,” neighbor Charlotte Broussard said. “I just don’t understand why people want to start crap like that.”
The alleged FBI documents? According to Chief Pennington (emphasis mine):
“We’ve spoken with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. There’s just nothing out there,” he said. “They tell us that there’s no credible information about that site in terrorism.”
Still, officials in Sweeny are acknowledging the concern by providing links to the articles in question on the city’s website.
So, basically Clarion painted a picture that looked like this:
When the reality was actually closer to this:
A Few Other Thoughts
People wondered why I looked askance at that Honor Diaries film & its participants. The fact that the Clarion Project is one of the organizations heavily promoting it is why. In case that wasn’t clear enough, any person—Muslim or otherwise—who associates him/herself with the Clarion Project (or any of the other designated anti-Muslim hate groups) is immediately added to my “Not to Be Trusted” list.
Outlandish depictions of Muslims based on exaggerations, half-truths & innuendo that are designed to appeal to people’s fear & ignorance are a regular staple of the right wing, for example the 2010 TV ad below, which still sits proudly on Renee Ellmers’ (R-NC) YouTube channel. Apparently, she’s against the First Amendment where American Muslims are concerned. The bigotry is especially egregious since she’s Catholic, a group that was also once regarded with suspicion by fellow Americans who labeled them “papists” suspected of having dual loyalties.
These people are the worst sort of political opportunists who waste precious law enforcement resources by sending them chasing after fake stories in a bid to get their names in the news. They do it by appealing to people’s worst fears instead of their better natures, all in the interests of getting elected to public office or selling their latest book or film. They’re pathetic, shameful, disgusting in the extreme.
Time to Grow Up
There are real threats out there, people who would very much like to do us—and by “us” I mean anyone who disagrees with them—real harm. Yes, some of those people are Muslim, and you know what? They’re as much a threat to law-abiding Muslims as they are to everyone else. Being an observant/Orthodox Muslim with a beard or hijab doesn’t automatically make someone a jihadi/terrorist any more than being an observant/Orthodox Jew with payot and a black hat makes someone a Kahanist, or being an evangelical Christian wearing a crucifix & carrying a Bible makes someone an abortion clinic bomber.
Grow up, America. Stop acting like a bunch of cliquish, backbiting adolescents and get on with the business of tending to our country and protecting all our citizens.