Mosque Rhetoric Boosting Taliban, Report Says

"... The emotional rhetoric against the project has prompted 'the heaviest e-mail response ever on jihadi Web sites, far bigger even than France’s ban on burqas earlier this year,' Newsweek reported. ..."

By Jeff Stein
Washington Post | August 31, 2010

Newsweek is reporting that the Taliban is using controversy over the “Ground Zero mosque” to raise money and recruit new fighters, both inside and outside Afghanistan.

It’s proved such an effective tool that “it now heads the list of talking points in Taliban meetings with fighters, villagers, and potential recruits,” the weekly says.

“By preventing this mosque from being built, America is doing us a big favor,” a Taliban operative named Zabihullah told the weekly. “It’s providing us with more recruits, donations, and popular support.”

Zabihullah -- who, like many Afghans, uses only a single name -- said the emotional rhetoric against the project has prompted “the heaviest e-mail response ever on jihadi Web sites, far bigger even than France’s ban on burqas earlier this year,” Newsweek reported.

“We received many e-mails asking for advice on how Muslims should react to the hijab ban, and how they can punish France,” Zabihullah was quoted as saying.

But the mosque issue is generating even more hatred toward the United States, he claimed: “We are getting even more messages of support and solidarity on the mosque issue and questions about how to fight back against this outrage.”

Former FBI counterterrorism specialist Ali Soufan sounded the same theme here two weeks ago.

“When demagogues appear to be equating Islam with terrorism, it's making young Muslims unsure about their place in the country,” he wrote in a Forbes essay. “It bolsters the message that radicalizers are selling: that the war is against Islam, and Muslims are not welcome in America.”

But some other prominent Arabs in the West think the mosque plans are deliberately designed to incite harsh rhetoric against Muslims, to the benefit of al-Qaeda and other Islamist radicals.

"We Muslims know the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation," Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah wote recently in the Ottawa Citizen.

Raza is author of “Their Jihad ... Not my Jihad,” and Fatah is author of “The Jew Is Not My Enemy.” Both are Canadian residents and sit on the board of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/spy-talk/2010/08/report_taliban_using_mosque_co.html