Monday, August 1, 2011

Naser Abdo and the Missing Story of Muslim Peacemaking

When U.S. Army Private Naser Abdo sought conscientious objector status in 2010 based on his Muslim beliefs, he briefly became a darling of the anti-war crowd. The War Resisters League called Abdo a "Muslim peacemaker" and quoted him as follows:

"As I studied Islam and Islam's commitment to peace, I developed an entirely new perspective on war and conscience… That's when I realized my conscience would not allow me to deploy."
Ibrahim Ramey of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation also supported Abdo:

"We believe that his position is not a product of personal cowardice or disloyalty to his nation, but rather, a coherent expression of his faith and his personal belief in the tenets and laws of the religion of Islam."
Abdo told CNN:

"Islam is a much more peaceful and tolerant religion, it isn't an aggressive religion. I don't belive that Islam allows me to operate in any kind of warfare at all."
All that was exposed as a lie in Texas last Thursday after Abdo purchased six pounds of smokeless gunpowder, shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semi-automatic pistol on Tuesday. Something about Abdo aroused the suspicions of a gun-store clerk who called 911.

Police tracked Abdo to his motel room where they found him with a backpack containing two clocks, wire, ammunition, a handgun and a "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" article from the English-language magazine Inspire produced by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Police say Abdo told them he planned to construct two bombs in his motel room using gunpowder and shrapnel packed into pressure cookers and then detonate the explosives at a restaurant frequented by U.S. soldiers.

What happens when one of your featured conscientious objectors is exposed as a would-be terrorist?

You can go to the website, but nothing is there. The page has gone missing.

You could read Abdo's profile at but that page has gone missing too, with this explanation: "We have assisted hundreds of service-members who have 'refused to fight' in various ways since 2005. In light of PFC Abdo's arrest yesterday, we have removed PFC Abdo's 'resister profile' from those that we have proudly supported."

The War Resisters League said they had no comment but did manage to first get in a jab on Islamophobia:

"Naser Abdo came to us for information and support as a Conscientious Objector and as a soldier speaking out against the Islamophobic roots of the U.S. 'War on Terror.' ...

We have no knowledge of the actions described in the charges that have been brought against Pfc. Abdo and therefore no comment."
Over at Iraq Veterans Against the War, they say they had contact with Abdo in August, November, and December 2010 but no contact since that then. And they are adament:

"Abdo is not now and has never been a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War."
They also provided statement Abdo gave them in October which said in part:

"Only when the military and America can disassociate Muslims from terror can we move onto a brighter future of religious collaboration and dialogue that defines America and makes me proud to be an American."
On the day after the arrest, national security reporter Adam Weinstein had this to say in Mother Jones:

"The full story isn't clear yet. The "bombmaking devices" Abdo possessed apparently amount to "firearms and smokeless powder," which aren't all that uncommon among folks in Texas (no, seriously)."
It is uncommon however for a Texan to shout "Abeer Qassim al-Janabi Iraq 2006" and "Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009" at his court arraignment, as Naser Abdo did.

There are said to be around 12,000 soldiers in the U.S. military who are Muslim. I'm sure the vast majority are loyal Americans ready to shoulder their rifles in defense of their country, the United States of America. But as we have seen with Muslims Naser Abdo, Nidal Hassan, and Hasan Karim Akbar, some of them are not.

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