The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
A 67-year-old self-described “Patriot” has been charged with building two improvised explosive devices found last November near Atlanta in a backpack stuffed with material suggesting the bomb-builder was a Muslim.
Michael Conrade Sibley, of Marietta, Ga., was being held on a $100,000 bond after he was arraigned yesterday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on one charge of possessing explosives on federal property.
Sibley confessed to FBI agents during an interview on Friday, four days after he was initially interviewed about his involvement with planting a bomb-packed backpack in Vickery Creek Park in Roswell on Nov. 4, court documents said.
It is unclear what initially led authorities to question Sibley over the explosives, which were discovered by a mother and her daughter who were hiking in the park, located on federal property, north of Atlanta. A bomb-squad destroyed the backpack in place.
Evidence subsequently recovered by investigators likely included the suspect’s DNA. Also recovered were components of two potentially deadly pipe bombs, a Koran and a list of potential terrorist targets, including hospitals, schools and Jewish facilities in the Greater Atlanta area.
The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta was among those listed and put on a heightened state of security after the backpack was discovered.
Various media outlets have reported that the backpack bomber’s intention apparently was to frighten the public and spread fear of Islamic terrorism.
The charging documents say Sibley bought the backpack at a garage sale, and constructed the explosive devices in the garage of his home in Marietta. He admitted placing a Quran and the book The Rape of Kuwait in the backpack, along a copy of the Atlanta Falcons football schedule. He also “wrote the name, ‘Mina Khodari,’ in the backpack because it looked foreign,” the court documents say.
Sibley told FBI agents “he is a ‘patriot’ and he felt no one was paying attention to what was going on the world,” federal documents say. He also expressed the belief that if he planted the backpack bomb in a Roswell Park, “people would finally get that this type of activity could happen anywhere.”
A newly elected prosecutor in Washington State is under fire for a string of anti-Muslim, racist and other insensitive comments his wife made on social media and news comment sites.
Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Haskell told various media outlets he doesn’t share the views of his wife, Lesley Haskell, after her online opinions were exposed late last month in the Inlander, a weekly newspaper. But since then, local civil rights activists say the prosecutor should have gone farther and denounced his wife’s comments.
The prosecutor, a Republican, and his wife did not respond to an email request from Hatewatch for comment.
The Inlander article said Lesley Haskell made a Facebook comment in January about a Muslim mayor in the Netherlands who, after the terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices, said Muslims who “do not like freedom can pack your bags and leave.”
“I don’t care what he said, I do not trust muzlims [sic] no matter what,” she posted in response, the newspaper reported.
In another post, she wrote: “Islam is not a religion, it’s a cult. Cults have no protections under our Constitution. (Muslims) should leave and live in a country that supports their archaic beliefs.”
Media coverage of her comments caught the attention of Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed, who threw a political fundraising event last year supporting Larry Haskell in challenging Breann Beggs for the vacant Spokane County prosecutor’s office.
“I think those comments are dangerous … dangerous because people who are uneducated and don’t know Muslims take it for face value, then people think it’s acceptable,” Ahmed, himself a Muslim, told KHQ-TV.
Beggs, who has been involved in several social justice cases, expressed dismay about the prosecutor’s lackluster response.
“It is not enough to refrain from hate speech,” Beggs told Hatewatch. “Our elected leaders must speak out against ignorance and bigotry.’’
But Liz Moore, executive director of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, questioned whether Lesley Haskell’s public comments about Muslims and other minorities mirror her husband’s views, the Inlander reported.
“I think everyone in our community needs to feel confident that they are treated fairly by everyone in public office, and in the criminal justice system in particular,” Moore told the newspaper. “If I were a member of the Islamic faith, this would make me have questions about how I would be treated or perceived.”
Haskell has since apologized for the “angst” caused by his wife’s comments, and said he doesn’t share her views about Muslim. But Lesley Haskell’s online comments weren’t limited to Muslims.
After a young black man recently pleaded guilty in the beating death of a World War II veteran, in another case prosecuted by her husband, Lesley Haskell posted a comment calling the defendant and his family “pieces of vile garbage” who “are evil, scum, wastes on society (who) should be annihilated,” the Spokesman-Review reported.
When former South African President Nelson Mandela died in December 2013, Lesley Haskell posted that she didn’t “understand the reverence for this man” and wasn’t about to mourn his passing. “He might have done some charitable things, but he was a communist,” she wrote. “When did we, in the U.S., start idolizing communists? Oh yeah, in 2008” — an apparent reference to the election of President Obama.
As the controversy surrounding her online commentary continues to swirl, a new report today in The Spokesman-Review disclosed that Lesley Haskell also commented on criminal cases still under investigation or are being prosecuted by her husband.
Larry Haskell told the newspaper it would be his preference that his wife avoid public comments on cases in the prosecutor’s office, but has no legal ability to control comments made by her or other private citizens.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which took place this past weekend in Maryland, is almost always stacked with white nationalists and extremists. And this year was no different, even though American Conservative Union has sought to shun far-right groups and individuals from its event.
From anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant extremists, to the anti-LGBT activists who paraded halls, a good number of groups and individuals still managed to share the spotlight.
Here are some highlights from CPAC 2015:
• As Little Green Footballs reported, the organizers at CPAC gave press credentials and free access to the Tennessee white supremacist radio show Political Cesspool, a radio program that has been nexus of hate in America. Its sponsors include the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) and the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review.
• Nigel Farage, head of the anti-immigrant and right-wing populist United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) stated, “We have all in the West mistakenly and I think in a very cowardly manner, we have pursed a policy of multiculturalism. We have pursued a policy of actually encouraging division within our societies rather than pursuing a policy where we should all come together.” Farage went on to say, “We must stand firm and defend our Judeo-Christian culture. We must make it clear that we believe in common law and not Sharia law.”
• ProEnglish, an anti-immigrant group headed by white nationalist Robert Vandervoort, had an exhibitor’s booth. Vandervoort is the former head of the white nationalist group Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance. The group was affiliated with the New Century Foundation and its publication American Renaissance, published by white nationalist ideologue Jared Taylor.
• A number of anti-immigrant activists attended an impromptu press conference held by Sen. Jeff Sessions, organized by Breitbart Media. Sessions used the press conference to attack President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Rosemary Jenks, Chris Chmielenski and Jim Edwards of the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA and Bob Dane with the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) all attended the press conference.
• Frank Gaffney, one of the leading anti-Muslim voices in the country, also attended the Sessions press conference. Gaffney’s group, the Center for Security Policy (CSP) had a booth in the exhibitor’s hall of CAPC. CSP was also a sponsor of the conference. Clare Lopez, CSP’s vice president for research and analysis, also spoke on two panels.
• Sen. Ted Cruz called for IRS to be abolished and said if he was elected President he would instruct every IRS employee to be stationed on the U.S./Mexico border – remark which received a standing ovation.
• The devil is in the details, or in the case of CPAC, the fliers people hand out. One young person passed out a flier for the racist website VDARE.com founded by white nationalist Peter Brimelow that advertised his new book Alien Nation and talked about how “the national disaster of mass Third World immigration” would “spell the eventual doom of the American nation.” Another flier passed out to CPAC attendees warned “We cannot continue to help the world if we are brought to our economic knees by a flood of illegal aliens.” The bottom of the flier read, “Paid for by Chris Phillips. Not coordinated with any candidate or candidate’s committee.”
• Zuhdi Jasser, one of the few Muslim spokespersons within the anti-Muslim movement, called for America to stand up and defeat ISIS during a panel, claiming that the Muslim world is incapable of dealing with the threat. “Within Islam right now is a laboratory that only breeds cockroaches,” he said.
• White nationalists representing a number of groups participated in a protest outside of the CPAC hotel on Saturday afternoon voicing support for Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Matt Heimbach of the Traditionalist Youth Network organized the protest, which also included members of the Neo-Confederate group League of the South.
• The Convention of States, a project of the group Citizens for Self Government calling for a convention to propose amendments resulting the a reduction of federal powers, also had an exhibitor’s booth at CPAC. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma recently signed on as a senior advisor for the project. Mathew Staver of the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel is on the Convention of States legal board of reference.
• One U.S. governor, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, compared his state’s union protesters to ISIS, stating, “I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.” Another, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, used his speech to attack President Obama, claiming the Obama isn’t fit to run the United States as Commander in Chief.
He hated Muslims.
They got what they deserved.
Things happen for a reason.
Those were the chilling words and sentiments the homeless man charged in the arson fire of a Houston mosque allegedly told a convenience store clerk shortly after part of the house of worship went up in flames Friday morning around 5:30.
The office of the Harris County District Attorney revealed the alleged statement yesterday evening when the suspect, 55-year-old Darryl Ferguson, made his first court appearance in the case, according to KPRC 2.
“He told a nearby convenience store clerk,” a court official said yesterday during Ferguson’s probable cause hearing, “that he hated Muslims, they got what they deserved, and things happen for a reason.”
Despite Ferguson’s alleged statements, the arson that heavily damaged a portion of the Quba Islamic Institute mosque and school in a residential neighborhood of Houston has not been classified as a hate crime. “It’s still under investigation,” Jeff McShan, a spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney, told Hatewatch today. “Who knows if that guy [the store clerk] is telling the truth?”
Ferguson, who has a lengthy criminal record, was arrested Monday evening after he approached arson investigators who were canvassing the neighborhood near the mosque. The authorities said Ferguson had been staying in the area and confessed to setting the fire, claiming it was accidental and he was simply trying to stay warm.
He has been charged with first-degree arson and faces from five to 99 years in prison if convicted. He is being held without bond.
McShan, the district attorney spokesman, said even if it turns out that Ferguson actually said those chilling words of hate to the store clerk he would not be charged with a hate crime because he has already been charged with the highest level of offense. In Texas, McShan said, a hate crime offense adds one degree to a charge “and he’s already at first degree and he wouldn’t be moved up.”
McShan said Ferguson’s alleged words, however, could be used against him at trial to establish guilt.
No one was injured in the blaze that took about two dozen firefighters roughly an hour to knock down. One of the three buildings – primarily used for storage – that comprise the mosque and school complex was gutted.
A telephone call to the mosque for comment today about Ferguson’s alleged statement was not returned.
A homeless man has been charged with arson in connection with a fire last week that heavily damaged a portion of the Quba Islamic Institute mosque and school in a residential neighborhood of Houston.
Suspect Darryl Ferguson, 55, was arrested Monday evening after he approached arson investigators who were canvassing the neighborhood near the mosque, the Houston Chronicle reported. Investigators said Ferguson, who has a lengthy criminal record and had been staying in the area, confessed to setting the fire, claiming it was accidental.
Authorities have not said if they intend to classify the arson as a hate crime.
In a Facebook posting and media interviews, mosque officials say they were told by investigators that the fire at 5:30 a.m. Friday was deliberately started by someone using accelerants.
Two dozen firefighters from the Houston Fire Department had the fire knocked down within an hour but the blaze gutted one of three buildings — primarily used for storage — that comprise the mosque and school complex.
No one was injured. A damage estimate hasn’t been released.
It is the latest in a string of at least four suspicious fires or arson attempts at Houston-area mosques in the past decade.
The arson fire in Houston occurred just three days after the murder of three Muslim university students in Chapel Hill, Va. The FBI is now conducting an initial inquiry to determine if those killings constitute a hate crime, warranting a federal investigation.
“A lot of people have the feeling that perhaps the mentality is the same,” Ahsan Zahid, son of the Houston institute’s imam, told the Los Angeles Times after the fire at the mosque.
In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Zahid noted the preliminary finding of arson and added, “I hope it’s not a hate crime.”
Houston — the fourth largest city in the United States — has the largest population of Muslims in Texas, an estimated 57,000 people. The state of Texas, meanwhile, has the nation’s eighth largest Muslim population, 420,000 people, who are served by 166 mosques.
Some of them, it appears, have been targets of hate crimes.
In March 2011, a fire at the Clear Lake mosque in southeastern Houston damaged a library, kitchen and women’s prayer room. Two months later, three masked men captured on security cameras poured gasoline on prayer rugs at the Madrasah Islamiah mosque, but a large fire failed to ignite.
In May 2004, a late-night arson fire damaged the Msjiad Almuhaymin mosque in Houston while the facility was locked and vacant.
There have been no arrests in any of those arsons, according to media reports.
But last May, at the end of a lengthy sting investigation, the FBI arrested a man from a Houston suburb who allegedly plotted to kill police officers and blow up government buildings and mosques.
Robert James Talbot Jr., 38, of Katy, Texas, who used the online alias of “Robert Liberty,” pleaded guilty in October to attempted interference with commerce by robbery and solicitation to commit a crime of violence.
Most court documents in his case are sealed from public viewing, but the docket report shows Talbot is scheduled for sentencing on April 10.
The FBI has opened an “initial inquiry” – a procedural step before a full investigation – into this week’s fatal shootings of three young Muslims at a housing complex in Chapel Hill, N.C., near the University of North Carolina.
“The FBI has also opened a parallel preliminary inquiry to determine whether or not any federal laws were violated related to the case,” the FBI said in a statement, the Washington Post reports in today’s editions.
Chapel Hill police currently are the lead agency in investigating the shooting deaths on Tuesday of newlyweds Deah Barakat, 23, and Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, all students at the University of North Carolina.
Before a formal investigation is begun by the FBI, the agency frequently opens what it calls an “initial inquiry” to determine if there is sufficient evidence to justify full-blown federal intervention. With the FBI involved, federal charges can be filed against suspects in an investigation, supplanting or supporting state charges.
A neighbor of the victims, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, surrendered to police after the shootings. He has been charged with three counts of murder and remains in jail. Chapel Hill police have said “an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking” may have been a factor in the shootings.
But Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of the sisters who were killed, has publicly said the murders were a hate crime and called upon the FBI to investigate. “This has hate crime written all over it,” the father told reporters at the funeral of his daughters. Others, including fellow Muslims, have echoed that sentiment.
The Washington Post reported that the shooting “has stirred a deep sense of fear and vulnerability” for Muslims living in and near Chapel Hill. “As thousands gathered Thursday to mourn the victims, more and more people there were discussing whether bias played a role in the shootings and the larger issue of anti-Islamic sentiment,” the newspaper reported.
Hicks’ Facebook page was filled with statements against religion of all types, although Islam was not particularly singled out. Hicks also was a gun enthusiast, as evidenced by his many postings on gun websites and also an Amazon “wish list” that included such items as rifle scopes. In addition, the sisters’ father has said that one of his daughters told him before her murder that she had a scary neighbor who appeared to be upset by the traditional Muslim hijabs the two women wore.
There are other reasons for Muslims in America to feel under siege. Recent weeks and months have been thick with news of jihadist horrors — the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, the murder of American Kayla Mueller by the Islamic State and the beheadings and burning alive of a Jordanian pilot by the same group, the Taliban’s mass murder of 145 people at a school in Pakistan, and more.
A poll out earlier this week, from LifeWay, a Christian nonprofit research group, found that 27% of Americans now see the barbaric Islamic State as representative of mainstream Islam. A variety of politicians and pundits have been aggressively attacking Muslims and their faith, often in the guise of working to pass laws to prevent the imposition of Shariah law on American courts — an impossibility under the Constitution.
And that’s not all.
This morning, American Muslims awoke to the news that a large building at a new Islamic community center in Houston had been entirely gutted by an early morning fire. Though officials were not saying if the blaze was caused by arson, officials at the center said they had been told that it was started by a person, although perhaps accidentally.
Imam Zahid Abdullah also told ABC News that he saw a suspicious man near the center on Wednesday and last night. “My son was passing by here and somebody was sitting her in a white Ram, making mockery, chanting, “ he said.
Another Islamic center in Houston was attacked by arsonists in 2011. There have been similar attacks on Islamic centers in Jacksonville, Fla., and Corvallis, Ore.
President Obama issued a statement about the triple homicide in Chapel Hill today that sought to reassure Muslims, calling the murders “brutal and outrageous,” and confirming that the FBI’s would see if federal laws were violated.
“No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship,” the president said.
In the weeks following the terrorist attacks in France, major players in the American anti-Muslim movement have unleashed a tirade of bigotry and renewed their energies in attacking the federal government. But not to be left out, prominent anti-immigrant figures and politicians have also joined the show.
Former congressman Tom Tancredo called for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States, and rabid far-right commentator Ann Coulter said the same for France, suggesting that it might be a good time for the French to “take a little pause in Muslim immigration for a while.”
But that was only the beginning of their outrage, which quickly turned to focus on criticizing Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN), for his appointment to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Carson is the first Muslim to sit on the committee.
Robert Spencer, who runs the website Jihad Watch and is closely tied to anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller, questioned Carson’s position and lamented that he “already has entrée to highly sensitive areas” of the federal government. The anti-Muslim blog “Creeping Sharia” called Carson “delusional” and “dangerous” and claimed, “he does not belong on any intel committee.” A post about Carson on the website of the increasingly extreme American Thinker also concluded, “With radical Muslims parading in and out of the White House over the past six years, installing Carson on a national security committee is more proof that the Islamic threat we face is inside our own government.”
The fallacy in the Thinker’s argument — that all Muslims are radicalized and bent on destroying the West — is only the beginning in this new round of anti-Muslim hate. Others have reacted to the Jan. 7 attack in Paris by ratcheting up completely fabricated concerns, like so-called “no-go zones” in the United States and United Kingdom where non-Muslims are no longer welcome and, in fact, targeted upon visiting.
The idea has received considerable airtime thanks to repeated statements from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who recently doubled down on his claims that these areas exist in a interview with CNN, stating, “I think your viewers know absolutely there are places where the police are less likely to go. They absolutely know there are neighborhoods where they wouldn’t feel comfortable.”
Even before Jindal’s remarks, though, anti-Muslim activist Steve Emerson told Fox News that Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, is “totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.” Emerson’s comments prompted an angry response from British Prime Minister David Cameron who branded him “a complete idiot.” (Fox News issued an apology for Emerson’s comments soon after.)
But anti-immigrant leader Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a nativist think tank, echoed Jindal and Emerson’s comments in a tweet on January 20. “OF COURSE there are no-go zones in many of Europe’s Muslim neighborhoods,” the tweet said.
Krikorian is no stranger to anti-Muslim sentiment, once writing, “I’m afraid that in the Islamic world democracy faces the problem of a vicious people, one where the desire for freedom is indeed written in every human heart, but the freedom to do evil.”
It doesn’t stop there. There has also been increased hand-wringing about Sharia law supplanting Constitutional law. A litany of anti-Muslim leaders signed a letter penned by Frank Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy praising Jindal for his recent comments about Sharia. Other notable signatories included Brigitte Gabriel, head of the anti-Muslim ACT! for America and Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council.
Then, last week, some in the anti-Muslim movement decided to take to the streets to voice their opposition to Islam.
On January 17, a “Stand with the Prophet” event aimed at combatting Islamophobia took place in Garland, Texas. In response, Muslim-basher Pamela Geller organized a demonstration that attracted a number of extremists, including representatives from the anti-Muslim group The United West and Ruben Israel, part of the Los Angeles-based hate group Official Street Preachers. In an interview with The United West at the protest site, Geller stated, “The Islamic leadership in this country is holding a conference to restrict our free speech. It’s the same exact premise, it’s the same ideology, it’s the same system of governance, the Sharia, that was behind those murders (in Paris).”
There are voices that disagree. In a recent op-ed in The Tennessean, for example, Paul Galloway, executive director of the American Center for Outreach, which works to bring Muslim voices to the Tennessee political stage, wrote that, “More and more people are starting to see the symbiotic relationship between Muslim terrorists and the anti-Muslim propaganda machine.” This is certainly the case, but the propaganda from anti-Muslim quarters continues to spread.
Update: The RNC voted yesterday to censure its member Dave Agema for posting material on social media that is insensitive to gays, Muslims and African Americans. Ironically, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is working closing with a group, American Family Association, that could be described in the exact same way.
It’s only been a few weeks since we learned that majority whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) had spoken to a white supremacist group in 2002, and again the Republican Party has a scandal about race on its hands.
As the RNC gathers today in San Diego for its annual strategy meeting to draft plans for its future, particularly how it will improve its outreach to minorities, another prominent GOP lawmaker has been discovered to be a fan of white supremacist thinking.
Dave Agema, a member of the Republican National Committee from Michigan, republished an essay by the white nationalist publication American Renaissance in a New Year’s Eve Facebook post. The racist article, par for the course for American Renaissance, said “blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”
Agema reportedly found it “very enlightening.” Can that possibly be true?
Agema has since pulled the piece down, but he refuses to apologize or resign from the RNC. And this isn’t his first racist rodeo.
According to the National Journal, Agema has a well-documented history of making inflammatory and false remarks, such as that President Obama is a Muslim. The Journal points to another Agema Facebook faux pas. He apparently shared what he called an “eye opening” essay that posed the question: “Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?”
At least in this case, some in the RNC have reacted appropriately by calling for Agema to resign or be removed. They include RNC head Reince Priebus and Michigan’s entire GOP delegation. That’s all well and very good, but where’s the outrage from Priebus or other prominent Republicans over Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s plan to hold a prayer rally with the American Family Association (AFA)? Emails to Priebus’ and Jindal’s offices asking for comment were not returned.
On Jan. 24, Jindal, with AFA backing, will be praying at Louisiana State University in an event billed as “The Revival.” His partner, AFA, has defamed immigrants, the LGBT community and women. And just like American Renaissance, it has had horrible things to say about black people.
Let’s take a look at Jindal’s prayer partners.
- An AFA leader has said, “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.”
- The same staffer said African Americans “rut like rabbits” and women have no place in politics or the military.
- Another has argued that Hispanics are “socialists by nature” and come to the United States to “plunder” our country.
- And the group has repeatedly made the point that non-Christians are second-class citizens—“we are a Christian nation, and not a Jewish or Muslim one.” (Find a comprehensive look at AFA’s extremist statements and positions here).
Given a track record like that, I have to ask where’s the outrage from Jindal’s fellow Republicans? American Renaissance is clearly racist, but so are these statements about black people and Latinos. Shouldn’t they be condemned as well? And what about blaming gay people for the Holocaust?
So, if Agema is the big Republican elephant in the room stalking the GOP’s efforts to reach out to minorities, isn’t that true as well of any politician who is close to AFA?
Sadly the hypocrisy goes much deeper. As RNC Chair Priebus has berated Agema, rightly saying, “The tone and rhetoric from Agema is consistently offensive and has no place in politics or any rational conversation,” the chairman is also working closely with AFA.
At the end of this month, Priebus is leading an all expenses paid trip to Jerusalem for RNC members. So far, about 60 members (about 36 percent) of the RNC have accepted the offer, according to Haaretz.
And guess who is picking up the tab for this “incredible opportunity” Priebus is offering his fellow RNC members? You guessed right: the AFA.
Terry Jones has given up cooking Qurans for the time being in favor of taking a new stand in Bradenton, Florida. Jones and his two brothers opened “Fry Guys Gourmet Fries,” a French fry stand at the food court of the DeSoto Square mall.
Jones is the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, an anti-Muslim hate group that received international attention for planning to burn 2,998 Qurans—one for each victim from the September 11th terrorist attacks—in 2013. He was arrested on his way to the event for felony unlawful conveyance of fuel and also charged with unlawful open-carry of a firearm.
Previous plans to burn a Quran in 2010, eventually aborted, and 2011 resulted in a $2.2 million bounty being placed on Jones’s head by an Al-Qaeda affiliate.
According to a recent interview in VICE, Jones sees his fry stand as an act of patriotic defiance.
“I hope that it’s somewhat of an asset for people that are tired of what is going on and want to speak out, and want to believe that someone will stand up, and take a chance, and speak out. People can support us by coming out to eat,” Jones said.
Jones, who also made headlines in 2011 for holding “Good Friday protest” in Dearborn, Michigan, at the Islamic Center of America where he claimed that the city was ruled by sharia law, seems to have toned down his rhetoric.
When asked by VICE if he wished all Muslims would convert to Christianity, he gave a surprising answer.
“If you’re asking me as an American, then I have no problem with Islam—they are protected under the First Amendment. I have no problem with them being in the country, building mosques, or evangelizing.”
In his first column of 2015, published on the right-wing website News with Views, Wooldridge continued his campaign to denigrate Muslims, calling for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the U.S. and warning that no Western country will “survive [Muslim] birthrates or culture.”
“Islam grows in America. This beast roams America in places like Philadelphia where Muslim women walk Market Street where Ben Franklin walked,” Wooldridge wrote. “At some point, we must shut down all Muslim immigration before we lose control of our own country. They prove relentless, uncompromising and unyielding. No such thing as a ‘moderate Muslim!’”
The column is the third installment in a series titled, “Impregnating America With Muslims: Onslaught on our Ethos, Language and Culture.” It also quoted heavily from an October 2014 sermon delivered by Rabbi Shalom Lewis of Congregation Etz Chaim, where Lewis called for a “holy crusade” against Muslim extremists.
Wooldridge has a long history of anti-Muslim vitriol, and he is far from an isolated figure within the broader anti-immigrant movement. He is an advisory board member with the hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), founded by white nationalist John Tanton, the architect of the modern-day anti-immigrant movement. Wooldridge also worked as a “senior writing fellow” for the anti-immigrant group Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). Both FAIR and CAPS received funding from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation dedicated to funding the studies of race and intelligence, as well as eugenics, the “science” of breeding superior human beings that was discredited by various Nazi atrocities.
Incidentally, the idea of Muslim immigration diluting western culture has long been a nativist fascination. As early as 2000, for example, FAIR attacked Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.), an Arab-American, for supporting more high-tech visas for immigrants. In radio and TV ads, FAIR claimed Abraham’s proposal could “make it easier for [Arab] terrorists like Osama bin Laden to export their way of terror to any street in America.”
A decade later, in the Fall 2010, Tanton’s anti-immigrant journal The Social Contract (TSC) called for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the U.S. Tanton’s right hand man, K.C. McAlpin, attempted to justify the call for a ban, saying “Congress has used that power in the past to ban the immigration of Communist Party and National Socialist (Nazi) party members who were deemed to be threats to our national security. This case is no different.”
But in reality, for Wooldridge and McAlpin, it is completely different.