Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb loved Walid Shoebat when he surfaced in right-wing circles a few years back.
Walid Shoebat, born in Bethlehem, began attacking Israelis when he was 8 years old, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.
He was, Shoebat says now, an Islamic terrorist in the making – a product of his environment, including schools, media and mosques that preached hatred of Jews.
"I never actually met any Jews," he said. "But in school we were taught from the Quran that they were pigs and monkeys.''
By 15, he had already served time in a Jerusalem prison for participating in an anti-Israel riot. While there, he was recruited into the Palestine Liberation Organization.
At 16, he was chosen to take a loaf of bread, packed with explosives, to blow up the Bethlehem Bank Leumi. His instructions were to place it in a garbage can near the door of the building. But seeing Arab children playing nearby, he decided to throw the bread on the roof where it did little damage.
He once blinded a man during a fight and was "so happy" to learn he was a Jew.
He was also involved in the near-lynching of an Israeli soldier. Though Shoebat and his friends took the soldier's gun and beat him, he managed to escape.
"I wanted to die as a martyr," said. "We were indoctrinated to look forward to heaven.''
Now Shoebat has turned his activism in a completely different direction. He calls himself a Christian Zionist, giving speeches around the country and in Canada, where he made an appearance this week. His ultimate dream, he says, is to go to Israeli prisons to teach Palestinian youngsters Jewish history – a dream he understands is fraught with danger from the people who think as he once did.
But WND isn't the only ones in the ConWeb to have promoted Shoebat:
- Newsmax, in a lengthy July 2006 profile, declared him a "terror expert" and "a man with a tough message" -- "a former fundamentalist Islamic terrorist who, incredibly, reformed." It printed an interview with Glenn Beck touting that Shoebat would appear in a segement of his TV show called "Exposed: The Extremist Agenda."
- An October 2006 CNSNews.com article touted a speech by Shoebat and another former terrorist. A CNS "Fact-O-Rama" repeated highlights from Shoebat's bio.
But was Shoebat really the badass terrorist he claims to have been? The New York Times writes of Shoebat and two other purported ex-terrorists with whom Shoebat has done speaking tours:
Academic professors and others who have heard the three men speak in the United States and Canada said some of their stories border on the fantastic, like Mr. [Kamal] Saleem’s account of how, as a child, he infiltrated Israel to plant bombs via a network of tunnels underneath the Golan Heights. No such incidents have been reported, the academic experts said. They also question how three middle-aged men who claim they were recruited as teenagers or younger could have been steeped in the violent religious ideology that only became prevalent in the late 1980s.
[...]Arab-American civil rights organizations question why, at a time when the United States government has vigorously moved to jail or at least deport anyone with a known terrorist connection, the three men, if they are telling the truth, are allowed to circulate freely. A spokesman for the F.B.I. said there were no warrants for their arrest.
The Times article also notes that the speeches by Shoebat and the others are little more than Muslim bashing and Christian prostletyzing; according to one critic, "It was just an old time gospel hour — 'Jesus can change your life, he changed mine.' ... That is mixed in with 'Watch out America, wake up America, the danger of Islam is here.' "
The Village Voice adds:
In response, the men have spent significant time trying to prove that they actually did kill people, and that they used to hate Jews as much as the next Muslim extremist. "I planted a bomb in a bank!" insists Shoebat, whose handler, Keith Davies, has threatened a libel suit against The Times over the article that questioned his claims.
That's right: Shoebat is claiming libel against anyone who says he wasn't a terrorist -- as Richard Bartholomew notes, the most absurd libel threat ever. Bartholomew noted that Shoebat has issued a similar libel threat against a blogger who claimed to have talked to a relative of Shoebat, who called his terrorist story "a manufactured fabrication," adding that "The biggest act of 'terror' he ever committed was to glue Palestinian flag on street posts."
It should be no surprise that the controversy over Shoebat's veracity can be found nowhere on the ConWeb. It's mentioned nowhere on the websites that have touted him -- WorldNetDaily, Newsmax or CNS -- even though the story first surfaced two months ago.