Showing posts with label terrorism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label terrorism. Show all posts

Sunday, October 2, 2011

U.S. Travel Alert After Awlaki Death

(Reuters) - The State Department issued a worldwide travel alert on Saturday warning of the possibility of anti-American attacks in response to the killing of two top al Qaeda members.

The warning came a day after U.S. officials said Anwar al-Awlaki, identified as "chief of external operations" for al Qaeda's Yemen branch, was killed in an attack by missiles fired from multiple CIA drones in Yemen.

"The death of Awlaki, in the near term, could provide motivation for anti-American attacks worldwide from individuals or groups seeking to retaliate against U.S. citizens or interests because of this action," the State Department said.

The drone strike also killed Samir Khan, an American who served as editor of a glossy magazine used as a propaganda and recruitment tool by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.


Friday, September 9, 2011

U.S. Sees Credible But Unconfirmed Terrorism Threat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered a redoubling of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in the face of a "credible but unconfirmed" threat ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the threat involved Washington D.C. and New York City, which were targeted in al Qaeda attacks a decade ago this Sunday that killed nearly 3,000 people.

A law enforcement source said a manhunt was underway for two or three suspects. One person familiar with the matter said they were suspected of having links to al Qaeda.

But the officials used strong caveats when discussing the threat information privately, with a national security official cautioning that experts thought the threat would ultimately not check out.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also stressed that the threat had not been corroborated, even as he announced heightened security measures "some of which you may notice, some of which you may not notice."

"There is no reason for any of the rest of us to change anything in our daily routines," he told a news conference.

Still, Bloomberg asked citizens to report suspicious or dangerous activity, adding: "Over the next three days we should all keep our eyes wide open."

The White House said Obama was briefed on specific threat information on Thursday morning, and noted that the government had already "enhanced its security posture" ahead of the anniversary.

"Nevertheless, the President directed the counterterrorism community to redouble its efforts in response to this credible but unconfirmed information," a White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


White House spokesman Jay Carney said "we're hyper-vigilant to this specific report that's just coming in." He told MSNBC television that the government was taking all necessary precautions, without offering details.

Documents discovered in Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after he was killed in a raid in May by Navy SEALs, highlighted his persistent interest in attacking the United States around the anniversary of the 2001 attacks. But it is unclear if the plans ever evolved beyond aspiration.

"As we know from the intelligence gathered following the Osama bin Laden raid, al Qaeda has showed an interest in important dates and anniversaries, such as 9/11," said Jan Fedarcyk with the FBI's New York field office.

Bloomberg said he spoke with the head of New York's public transportation authority, which was hiking security. He added: "For the record, I plan to take the subway tomorrow morning."

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced measures including more bag inspections on the subway, more bomb-sniffing dogs on patrol and increased deployment of radiation monitoring equipment.

"There will be increased focus on tunnels and bridges and infrastructure in general, as well as landmark locations, houses of worship and government buildings," he said.

The Department of Homeland Security, which said only last week that there was no credible information that al Qaeda was plotting an attack around the September 11 anniversary, declined to offer details on the threat.

It cautioned that there were always threat reports before important dates like the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

"Sometimes this reporting is credible and warrants intense focus, other times it lacks credibility and is highly unlikely to be reflective of real plots under way," spokesman Matt Chandler said.

"Regardless, we take all threat reporting seriously, and we have taken, and will continue to take all steps necessary to mitigate any threats that arise."

A second law-enforcement source played down an ABC News report about missing rental trucks -- saying the vehicles had been recovered and there was no connection to terrorism.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Military Raises Alert Level Ahead Of September 11

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Wednesday raised the alert level at military bases, most of them domestic, ahead of the 10th anniversary commemorations of the September 11, 2001, attacks on Sunday.

But it said its decision to heighten force protection levels at military installations, including the Pentagon building itself, was not due to any specific information about a credible terrorism threat.

"This is not in response to any particular threat but is a prudent and precautionary measure," said Pentagon spokesman George Little. The Pentagon said the move takes effect on Wednesday and will continue through Sunday.

The Pentagon was among the targets of the September 11, 2001, attacks, in which al Qaeda militants hijacked four airliners and killed almost 3,000 people. Two of the planes hit the World Trade Center in New York, one hit the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Security officials are being especially vigilant as the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks approaches.

The State Department issued a "Worldwide Travel Alert," saying Americans traveling and living abroad should be aware of the continued threat posed by al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Still, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said last week there was no credible intelligence that al Qaeda was plotting an attack for the September 11 anniversary.

Documents discovered in Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after he was killed in a raid in May by Navy SEALs highlighted his persistent interest in attacking the United States around the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. But it's unclear those plans ever evolved beyond aspiration.

"As you all have seen, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 was mentioned in the documents seized at the Abbottabad compound," Little said.

"Now this does not suggest in any way, shape or form that we know about a specific or credible threat to the United States homeland surrounding the 10th anniversary."


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Big Crowds, Possible Protests At Airports

Of all the working people in America that dislike their jobs right now it has to be the people that put airline passengers through the pat-downs and scanners. I've never heard so much hoopla from Americans! We just can't be satisfied.

If you are flying somewhere during this holiday try to keep in mind that those people you meet at the airport are NOT out to give you a good feel. And they certainly don't have that job because they want to molest your child. In fact, they don't care how fat and overweight you look on the scanner.

The only goal is protection from enemy attack and your safety. It's not a personal thing so grin and bear it...........could always be worse.......there could be NO air transportation. Just remember: there are those that would just like to get the pat downs and scanning taken care of so they can continue on their way to a wonderful visit with loved ones.

Airport officials and federal inspectors are bracing for a possible organized protest Wednesday by passengers angry over new security requirements, but there was little evidence of backlash at Orlando International Airport on Tuesday.

A loosely organized "National Opt-Out Day" campaign pushed by various Internet sites and activists has called for passengers to protest the Transportation Security Administration's use of body scanners and enhanced pat-downs by demanding pat-downs if they are selected for body scanners. Their stated intention: to back up security lines on one of the busiest travel days of the year, the day before Thanksgiving.

With that — and amid the broader uproar that has emerged nationally in recent days from a wide variety of groups and politicians — TSA Administrator John Pistole held his first national press conference Tuesday, trying to assure people that the agency would do everything it can to process travelers efficiently and safely, without backing down.

"We will process people as quickly and efficiently and securely as possible," Pistole said in a telephone press conference. "If large groups of people, large numbers of people, intentionally slow down our process, I don't think we can avoid that having a negative impact on people making their flights on time."
An estimated 110,000 passengers are expected at Orlando International Airport today, about equally split between those coming and those going. On Sunday, the season is expected to peak with 116,000 passengers. Typically, a little more than 90,000 come and go.

Tuesday, when an estimated 109,000 passengers went through the airport, the scene was anything but bogged down, with nearly no lines. Tom Draper, assistant director of operations for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, said the lines have been running smoothly pretty much all week.

Passengers such as Tamara Pope, 37, a NASA engineer from Merritt Island who was flying with her husband and five children to visit family in Michigan for the holiday, found their biggest challenge was killing time after arriving early. She also pondered her choice, if necessary, between scanners and pat-downs for her children.

"I'm a little worried," she said. "I have a special-needs child. I'm not sure he'd go for the pat-down. I don't know what's better when you have two pre-teen girls."

Three X-ray body scanners were installed at Orlando International two weeks ago, so most passengers will continue to go through the 12 metal detectors that have been in place for years. People are selected to go through the scanners either randomly or because something about them alerts a TSA officer.

Some passengers have complained that the scanners reveal breasts and genitalia to TSA officers, who monitor screens in a closed room and can't see the passengers. But the alternative is what Pistole calls "enhanced" pat-downs that have enraged some flyers when gloved officers traced the outlines of breasts, buttocks and genitalia through clothing.

"At this point, this is the new normal for passenger security screening," said Carolyn Fennell, spokeswoman for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. "So being informed is helpful. And so is being patient."

The arrest of the so-called "underwear bomber" on a Detroit-bound plane Christmas Day has accelerated purchase of the scanners, which are able to detect explosives and non-metallic devices hidden under clothing. Nationally there are about 400 scanners in place in 70 airports. Pistole wants 1,000 by the start of 2012 and, eventually, at least 1,400.

Pistole took issue with criticism that the enhanced pat-downs are akin to sexual assaults and said his office is investigating any such complaints, including reviewing closed-circuit security tapes, to see if any officers go beyond strict guidelines.

"I'm sympathetic to those concerns, but I'm also trying to be respectful of those who want to have the highest level of confidence that everybody else on that plane has been has been thoroughly screened," he said.

Last week, in a response to the public uproar, the TSA decided to modify its pat-downs of children under 13 so they're less intrusive. Pistole said the decision was based as much on intelligence as response to concerned parents.

"We don't have any intelligence of children 12 and under being used in terrorist attacks by adults," he said. "Of course, we do have information of teenagers being used. So that's a concern."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Top U.S. Millitary Official Says Al-Qaida Threat From Yemen Is 'Serious'

The top U.S. military officer says al-Qaida's branch in Yemen is a "serious" threat to the United States and has become substantially more dangerous over the past two years.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday he takes seriously al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's latest threat to carry out more inexpensive, small-scale attacks against American targets.

In the latest edition of its English-language, online magazine, Inspire, released early Sunday, the group said its attempt to bomb two U.S.-bound cargo planes last month cost only $4,200 to mount.

The al-Qaida branch wrote that the operation was intended to disrupt global air cargo systems and reflected a new strategy of low-cost attacks designed to inflict broad economic damage. The group said its main objective is not to maximize civilian casualties, but to threaten the aviation industry, which it described as "vital" for trade and transport between the U.S. and Europe.

In the new issue of Inspire, al-Qaida unveiled what it described as its "strategy of a thousand cuts" that will "bleed the enemy to death."

The magazine gave a detailed account of what it called "Operation Hemorrhage", in which toner cartridges packed with explosives were sent from Yemen's capital, Sana'a, to out-of-date addresses for two synagogues in the midwestern U.S. city of Chicago. The printers containing the cartridges were intercepted in Dubai and Britain.

Inspire listed the cost of the printers at $300 each, with additional expenses coming from two Nokia cell phones at $150 a piece, plus shipping and transportation costs.

The attack failed as a result of a tip from Saudi intelligence, which provided the tracking numbers for the parcels, sent via United Parcel Service and FedEx. But the al-Qaida magazine said the fear, disruption and added security costs caused by the packages made the operation a success.

The group mocked the notion that the plot was a failure, writing that it will "without a doubt it cost America and other Western countries" billions of dollars in new security measures.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Al-Qaida Claims Responsibility For Mail Bombs

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates(AP) – A Yemen-based al-Qaida group on Friday claimed responsibility for the international mail bomb plot uncovered late last week as well as the crash of a United Parcel Service cargo plane in September.

A week after authorities intercepted packages in Dubai and Britain that were bound for the U.S., al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula issued a statement taking credit for the plot and saying it would continue to strike American and Western interests. The group specifically said it would target civilian and cargo aircraft.

"We have struck three blows at your airplanes in a single year. And God willing, we will continue to strike our blows against American interests and the interests of America's allies," the group said in a message posted on a militant website.

The authenticity of Friday's claim could not be immediately verified. A U.S. intelligence official said authorities are not surprised to see this claim now.

U.S. officials have said all week that there were strong indications the plot originated with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a terror group that has become al-Qaida's most active franchise and has increasingly carried out attacks on Western targets.

Authorities in the U.S. and the UAE have said the Sept. 3 crash of the UPS plane in Dubai shortly after takeoff was caused by an onboard fire, but investigators are taking another look at the incident following the parcel bomb plot.

A security official in the UAE familiar with the investigations into the UPS cargo plane crash in Dubai and the mail bombs plot told The Associated Press Friday that there is no change in earlier findings and that the UPS crash in September was likely caused by an onboard fire and not by an explosive device.

"There was no explosion," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under standing UAE rules on disclosing security-related information.

A UPS spokesman, Norman Black, said his company had "no independent knowledge of this claim by al-Qaida," and noted that both UAE officials and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board officials have so far ruled out the possibility of a bomb as cause in the crash.

In its statement, al-Qaida's Yemeni offshoot said that it "downed the UPS airplane but because the enemy's media did not attribute the act to us, we kept silent about the operation until we could return the ball once more.

"We have done that, this time with two explosives, one of them sent via UPS, the other via FedEx."

It said that its "advanced explosives" give it "the opportunity to detonate (planes) in the air or after they have reached their final target, and they are designed to bypass all detection devices."

Both mail bombs were hidden inside computer printers and wired to detonators that used cell-phone technology and packed powdered PETN, a potent industrial explosive.

The message also directed a warning to Saudi Arabia, which was instrumental in passing along the key tip that led to the discovery of the bombs: "These explosives were directed at Jewish Zionist temples, and you intervened to protect them with your treason. God's curse on the oppressors."

Al-Qaida's offshoot in Yemen grew strength after several key leaders escaped from a Yemeni jail in 2006. In 2009, it was further bolstered by a merger with Saudi al-Qaida militants to form al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

The group first made a stunning show of its international reach in December, when it allegedly plotted a failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up a passenger jet over the U.S. The Obama administration branded the terror group a global threat, and has dramatically stepped up its alliance with Yemen's government to uproot it.

"AQAP continues to probe for weaknesses in our ability to disrupt, detect or stop their operations," said Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican who serves on the House intelligence terrorism subcommittee.

He expressed little surprise at the claim, saying:

"They are agile and determined. So must we be."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eiffel Tower Reopens

The Eiffel Tower has reopened for tourists today after some 2,000 people were evacuated from around the Paris landmark because of a bomb threat from an anonymous caller.

Explosives experts scoured the tower and Champs de Mars park overnight but found nothing suspicious. No additional security measures are in place today, several news outlets reported.

The threat came in a phone call just after dark Tuesday night to a private company that runs security at the tower. Hours later, the Saint-Michel train station -- the site of a deadly attack in 1995 -- was also briefly evacuated after a similar threat. Nothing was found there either.

No one has claimed responsibility for the threats, but the French government had issued an increased alert about possible threats from al-Qaida in August and the first half of September. Tuesday's false alarm also came on the same day France's Senate voted overwhelmingly to ban full Islamic veils in public.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Laura Bush To Speak At 911 Fundraiser Memorial

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. – Former first lady Laura Bush will speak at a National Park Foundation fundraiser in Pittsburgh on Friday, a day before joining Michelle Obama in rural Pennsylvania to remember the victims of Flight 93, which crashed there in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bush's appearance is part of a wider effort to raise money for the memorial to the 40 passengers and crew who died after they fought back against their hijackers.

Just $40 million of the $58 million needed for the memorial has been raised, and the first phase of the project is scheduled to be dedicated in time for the 10th anniversary of the attacks next year.

A memorial plaza is under construction in these rolling hills, part of a long-awaited 2,200-acre national park that will eventually honor the victims. The finished memorial will include a 93-foot tower at the entrance with wind chimes for each of the victims and a grove of trees.

The project's planners say they hope Bush's and Obama's efforts help bring attention and much-needed cash to the project.

"In a world where there's so much politics, one thing we have always found is that our story and our efforts resonate across the board. And this is just one more indication of that," said Gordon Felt, the president of the Families of Flight 93, whose brother died aboard the flight.

Patrick White, whose cousin, Louis "Joey" Nacke II, died in the crash, called donating to the memorial "a patriotic thing to do."

"This is America's memorial, certainly primarily to the 40 heroes of Flight 93, but indirectly to the events of the day as well," he said.

More than 1.2 million people have visited the temporary memorial since the crash. Planners predict that about 250,000 people will visit the permanent memorial each year.

The park foundation has recently stepped up its efforts to raise money, including a new public service campaign encouraging people to make a $10 donation by texting the word MEMORIAL to 90999, or to contribute online at


Flight 93 was en route from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when hijackers seized control and diverted it toward Washington, D.C. But the passengers fought back and the hijackers responded by crashing the plane about 60 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.

It's imperative to honor the victims, said David Beamer, whose son Todd was believed to have led the revolt with the words "Let's roll." He said some textbooks only casually reference Flight 93 as the fourth plane to crash on Sept. 11, with no details.

"That's not sufficient," Beamer said.

To Burn Or Not To Burn...........

Most of America has been looking upon this coming anniversary of 911 as another day of healing. The wounds are deep and fresh still with emotions running high. Now we have the Rev. Terry Jones, who just pops out of the woodwork and is ready to burn a sacred book belonging to the Muslim faith. This is a man of God? This "piece of work" has kept emotions raging in the people of all faiths and even in the hearts of those with no faith.

Does the Rev. Jones believe in his own mind that American's are stupid? Or that Muslims are? He's been warned and he has been begged to abandon his actions for Saturday's burning of the Koran. First yes, he will. Now he shrugs his shoulders and says he doens't know. What?

Is he crazy or is he just mean? Does he understand that there IS NO deal between him and the Iman Musri? Imam Musri certainly seems to understand there is no deal. Personally, I believe Musri's visit was to extend an olive branch (so to speak) because no one of the Muslim faith had. A noble move, I think. And a brave one. Two days ago a Muslim woman walked upon the church property and was removed.
Time will tell. I just hope (regardless of what the fool Rev. Jones with the Koran), he realizes that with all of his disrepectful antics has painted a bulls eye on the backs of every soldier all across the world.

Conscience, Rev. Jones? And how much have your antics cost the taxpayers of your town and state? Will you be accepting the blame if innocent lives are lost due to your evilness?

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – An anti-Islamic preacher backed off and then threatened to reconsider burning the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, angrily accusing a Muslim leader of lying to him Thursday with a promise to move an Islamic center and mosque away from New York's ground zero. The imam planning the center denied there was ever such a deal.

The Rev. Terry Jones generated an international firestorm with his plan to burn the Quran on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and he has been under intense pressure to give it up. President Barack Obama urged him to listen to "those better angels" and give up his "stunt," saying it would endanger U.S. troops and give Islamic terrorists a recruiting tool. Defense Secretary Robert Gates took the extraordinary step of calling Jones personally.

Standing outside his 50-member Pentecostal church, the Dove Outreach Center, alongside Imam Muhammad Musri, the president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, Jones said he relented when Musri assured him that the New York mosque will be moved.

Musri, however, said after the news conference that the agreement was only for him and Jones to travel to New York and meet Saturday with the imam overseeing plans to build a mosque near ground zero.

Hours later, Jones said Musri "clearly, clearly lied to us."

"Given what we are now hearing, we are forced to rethink our decision," Jones said. "So as of right now, we are not canceling the event, but we are suspending it."

Jones did not say whether the Quran burning could still be held Saturday, but he said he expected Musri to keep his word and expected "the imam in New York to back up one of his own men."

Jones had never invoked the mosque controversy as a reason for his planned protest. He cited his belief that the Quran is evil because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims.

But he said Thursday afternoon that he prayed about the decision and concluded that if the mosque was moved, it would be a sign from God to call off the Quran burning.

"We are, of course, now against any other group burning Qurans," Jones said. "We would right now ask no one to burn Qurans. We are absolutely strong on that. It is not the time to do it."

Musri thanked Jones and his church members "for making the decision today to defuse the situation and bring to a positive end what has become the world over a spectacle that no one would benefit from except extremists and terrorists" who would use it to recruit future radicals.

After Jones accused him of lying, Musri said the pastor "stretched my words" at the press conference.

"I think there was no confusion to begin with. When we stepped out of the church, we had an agreement to meet in New York," Musri said. He added that Jones "said his main reason for stopping the event was that it would endanger the troops overseas, Americans traveling abroad and others around the world."

Musri said he told the pastor "that I personally believe the mosque should not be there, and I will do everything in my power to make sure it is moved," Musri said. "But there is not any offer from there (New York) that it will be moved. All we have agreed to is a meeting, and I think we would all like to see a peaceful resolution."

Musri said Thursday night that he still plans to go ahead with the meeting Saturday.

In New York, the leader of the Islamic center project, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, issued a statement saying he was glad Jones had decided not to burn the Quran but that he had spoken to neither the pastor nor Musri.

"We are not going to toy with our religion or any other. Nor are we going to barter," Rauf said. "We are here to extend our hands to build peace and harmony."

Jones' decision to call off the Quran burning was made after a firestorm of criticism from leaders around the world. The pope and several other Christian leaders were among those urging him to reconsider his plans, which generated a wave of anger among Muslims. In Afghanistan, hundreds of Afghans burned an American flag and chanted "Death to the Christians" to protest the planned Quran burning.

Obama told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview aired Thursday that Jones' plan "is completely contrary to our values as Americans."

"And as a very practical matter, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women who are in uniform," Obama said.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell confirmed that Gates called Jones about 4 p.m. EST Thursday — shortly before the pastor's announcement. During the "very brief" call, Gates expressed "his grave concern that going forward with this Quran burning would put the lives of our forces at risk, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan," Morrell said.

Morrell said earlier that the decision to issue a personal appeal was not easy because it could provoke other extremists "who, all they want, is a call from so-and-so." After Gates' call to Jones, Morrell said the secretary's "fundamental baseline attitude about this is that if that phone call could save the life of one man or woman in uniform it was a call worth placing."

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., thanked Obama, Gates and other administration officials for their efforts. "This is definitely a positive moment in showing America's tolerance and pluralism and should not go unappreciated in the Muslim world," Haqqani said.

The cancellation also was welcomed by Jones' neighbors in Gainesville, a city of 125,000 anchored by the sprawling University of Florida campus. At least two dozen Christian churches, Jewish temples and Muslim organizations in the city had mobilized to plan inclusive events, including Quran readings at services, as a counterpoint to Jones' protest.

Jones' Dove Outreach Center is independent of any denomination. It follows the Pentecostal tradition, which teaches that the Holy Spirit can manifest itself in the modern day. Pentecostals often view themselves as engaged in spiritual warfare against satanic forces.

The pastor was not the only person to inject confusion into the debate over the New York mosque, which is planned to go up two blocks north of the trade center site. Donald Trump, who made a fortune in real estate, offered Thursday to buy out a major investor in the real estate partnership that controls the site where the 13-story Islamic center would be built.

Opponents argue it is insensitive to families and memories of Sept. 11 victims to build a mosque so close to where Islamic extremists flew planes into the World Trade Center and killed nearly 2,800 people. Proponents support the project as a reflection of religious freedom and diversity and say hatred of Muslims is fueling the opposition.

In a letter released Thursday by Trump's publicist, Trump told Hisham Elzanaty that he would buy his stake in one of the two lower Manhattan buildings involved in the project for 25 percent more than whatever he paid — if the mosque is moved at least five blocks farther away from the trade center site.

"I am making this offer as a resident of New York and citizen of the United States, not because I think the location is a spectacular one (because it is not), but because it will end a very serious, inflammatory, and highly divisive situation that is destined, in my opinion, to only get worse," the letter said.

Elzanaty's response: No sale.

"This is just a cheap attempt to get publicity and get in the limelight," said his lawyer, Wolodymyr Starosolsky.

He added that the offer's lack of seriousness is evident in the price.

The group collectively paid $4.8 million for the building Trump offered to buy. The other is being leased.

Starosolsky said the real estate partnership had already received two offers in the ballpark of $20 million.

"He knows what the value of the building is. If he were really interested in buying the building, he would have come forward with at least $20 million," Starosolsky said.

Starosolsky added that Elzanaty remains committed to the idea of having a mosque built on at least part of the property.

It's unclear how much control Elzanaty has over the property, which is owned by an eight-member investment group led by El-Gamal's real estate company, Soho Properties.

El-Gamal said Soho Properties controls the site, but didn't elaborate. His spokesman said he couldn't answer questions about the investment team or ownership issues.

In a pair of interviews with the AP this week, Elzanaty said he had invested in the site with an intention of making a profit and was willing to half the land for private development, and maybe all of it if a Muslim group doesn't come forward with enough money to build the mosque.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Koran Burning Denounced By Clinton and Gates

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top two national security advisers in President Obama's Cabinet on Wednesday denounced plans by a small church in Florida to burn the Muslim holy book to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, saying it would inflame tensions and put Americans abroad at risk.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the plan was ill-advised and echoed concerns first raised by the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who warned that the proposed weekend event would place the lives of American troops in jeopardy there and elsewhere. U.S. officials in Iraq agreed.

In remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Mrs. Clinton called the plans "outrageous" and "aberrational" and said they do not represent America or American values of religious tolerance and inclusiveness.

She also lamented that the tiny Dove World Outreach Center congregation in Gainesville had gotten so much attention for what she called a "distrustful and disgraceful" means of marking the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"It is regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Florida, with a church of no more than 50 people can make this outrageous and distrustful, disgraceful plan and get the world's attention, but that's the world we live in right now," Mrs. Clinton said. "It is unfortunate; it is not who we are," she said.

Through a Pentagon spokesman, Col. David Lapan, Mr. Gates added his voice to the growing controversy.

"No one is questioning the right to do these things. We are questioning whether that's advisable considering the consequences that could occur," Mr. Lapan said. "General Petraeus has been very vocal and very public on this, and his position reflects the secretary's as well."

Gen. Petraeus on Tuesday said that "images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence." In addition, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the former top commander in Iraq, said Wednesday he feared extremists will use the incident to sow hatred against U.S. troops overseas.

In Iraq, where almost 50,000 American troops are still serving, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey and the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. Lloyd Austin, joined in the condemnation, calling the plan "disrespectful, divisive and disgraceful."

"As this holy month of Ramadan comes to a close and Iraqis prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, we join with the citizens of Iraq and of every nation to repudiate religious intolerance and to respect and defend the diversity of faiths of our fellow man," they said in a joint statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Despite the widespread condemnation, the Rev. Terry Jones, the church's pastor, has vowed to go ahead with the event.

Mrs. Clinton appealed for Mr. Jones to reconsider and cancel. And, in the event he goes ahead with the plan, she suggested to laughter from the audience, that the news media ignore it.

"We are hoping that the pastor decides not to do this," she said. "We're hoping against hope that if he does, it won't be covered as an act of patriotism."

"We want to be judged by who we are as a nation, not by something that is so aberrational, and we will make that case as strongly as possible."

Moving the NYC Mosque Could Cause Violent Backlash Says Imam

NEW YORK – The imam behind a proposed Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero cautioned Wednesday that moving the facility could cause a violent backlash from Muslim extremists and endanger national security.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told CNN that the discourse surrounding the center has become so politicized that moving it could strengthen the ability of extremists abroad to recruit and wage attacks against Americans, including troops fighting in the Middle East.

"The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack," he said, but he added that he was open to the idea of moving the planned location of the center, currently two blocks north of the World Trade Center site.

"But if you don't do this right, anger will explode in the Muslim world," he later said, predicting that the reaction could be more furious than the eruption of violence following the 2005 publication of Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Opponents say the center, which would include a Sept. 11 memorial and a Muslim prayer space, should be moved farther away from where Islamic extremists destroyed the World Trade Center and killed nearly 2,800 people. Supporters say religious freedom should be protected.

Rauf, 61, has largely been absent since the debate over the center erupted earlier this year. He has been traveling abroad, including taking a State Department-funded 15-day trip to the Middle East to promote religious tolerance.

In the interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien, his first since returning to the U.S. on Sunday, Rauf responded to a number of questions that have been raised about the project.

He said money to develop the center would be raised domestically for the most part.

"And we'll be very transparent on how we raise money," he said, adding that no funds would be accepted from sources linked to extremists.

Rauf said that, in retrospect, he might have chosen a different location for what he described as a multifaith community center.

"If I knew this would happen, if it would cause this kind of pain, I wouldn't have done it," he said.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Florida Pastor's Plan Could Harm Our Troops

A Florida pastor's plan to burn Qurans at his church on Sept. 11 ignited a protest today by hundreds of Afghans, who burned American flags and shouted "Death to America," and drew a comment from the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan that the preacher could be increasing the threat to his troops.

The crowd in downtown Kabul reached nearly 500 today, with Afghan protesters chanting "Long live Islam " and "Long live the Quran," and burning an effigy of Terry Jones, senior pastor from the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida who is planning the event.

The protesters were well aware of the pastor's inflammatory comments, such as the "Islam is an evil religion," since they have been spread wide on the Internet. Jones has also authored a book, "Islam Is of the Devil."

The protesters' anger wasn't limited to Jones, however. Chants of "Death to America" echoed through the crowd, and U.S. flags were set ablaze alongside the effigy of Jones.

"America cannot eliminate Muslims from the world," one Afghan man told ABC News.

The angry crowd pelted a passing U.S. military convoy with rocks.

Gen. David Petraeus said he is outraged by the pastor's decision to burn the Quran, which he said could "endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort here."

Former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Jack Keane, an adviser to Petraeus, called it "outrageous" and "insulting to Muslims."

"It's also insulting to our soldiers in terms of what they stand for and what their commitment is to this country and to the Muslims in this country," Keane told ABC News.

But late today, Jones vowed he would go ahead with the Quran burning, even knowing the concerns of Petraeus and Keane for the safety of U.S. troops.

"What we are doing is long overdue. We are revealing the violence of Islam that is much, much deeper than we'd like to admit," Jones said in an interview with ABC News.

A Facebook page dedicated to the day, entitled "International Burn A Koran Day" has more than 8,000 fans.

"On September 11th, 2010, from 6pm - 9pm, we will burn the Koran on the property of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam. Islam is of the devil!" the page declares.

Larger 'Burn a Quran' Protest in Kabul Could Happen Tuesday

Over a hundred other pages have sprung up for and against the event on Sept. 11, incidentally the same day as a Muslim holiday called Eid, celebrating the last day of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

U.S. Muslims Boost Security For 9/11

NEW YORK (AP) - American Muslims are boosting security at mosques, seeking help from leaders of other faiths and airing ads underscoring their loyalty to the United States — all ahead of a 9/11 anniversary they fear could bring more trouble for their communities.

Their goal is not only to protect Muslims, but also to prevent them from retaliating if provoked. One Sept. 11 protest in New York against the proposed mosque near ground zero is expected to feature Geert Wilders, the aggressively anti-Islam Dutch lawmaker. The same day in Gainesville, Fla., the Dove World Outreach Center plans to burn copies of the Quran.

"We can expect crazy people out there will do things, but we don't want to create a hysteria," among Muslims, said Victor Begg of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan. "Americans, in general, they support pluralism. It's just that there's a lot of misinformation out there that has created confusion."

On Tuesday, the Islamic Society of North America will hold a summit of Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders in Washington "to address the growing tide of fear and intolerance" in the furor over the planned New York mosque.

Islamic centers in many cities are intensifying surveillance and keeping closer contact with law enforcement. Adding to Muslim concern is a fluke of the lunar calendar: Eid al-Fitr, a joyous holiday marking the end of Ramadan, will fall around Sept. 11 this year. Muslim leaders fear festivities could be misinterpreted as celebrating the 2001 terror strikes.

"We're telling everyone to keep their eyes open and report anything suspicious to authorities and call us," said Ramzy Kilic of the Tampa, Fla., chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Other efforts around 9/11 aim to fight bigotry. Muslims will clean parks, feed the homeless, and give toys to sick children as part of Muslim Serve, a national campaign to demonstrate Islamic commitment to serving humanity.

Separately, groups are distributing ads to combat persistent suspicions about Islam. One spot, called "My Faith, My Voice," features American Muslims saying, "I don't want to take over this country."

Sept. 11 anniversaries have always been challenging for U.S. Muslims, who have been under scrutiny since the attacks. This year, the commemoration follows a stunning summer in which opposition to a planned Islamic community center near the World Trade Center site escalated into a national uproar over Islam, extremism and religious freedom.

Islamic centers as far away as Tennessee and California faced protests and vandalism. In western New York, police said a group of teenagers recently yelled obscenities, set off a car alarm and fired a shotgun during two nights of drive-by harassment at a small-town mosque near Lake Ontario.

Usama Shami, board chairman for the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, said a new mosque the congregation has been building for years drew little attention until recently, when some resistance emerged in the neighborhood and from some in city government. Recently, vandals broke into the new building, spilled paint on the floor and broke expensive windows.

Shami believes the ground zero dispute is partly to blame for the trouble, along with passions unleashed by Arizona's strict new law that would require police to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.

"All of these issues came at the same time," Shami said. "When things like that happen, I think they bring out the worst in some people."

On Sept. 11 in Chicago, Zeenat Rahman, a 34-year-old native of the city, will visit a local nursing home with Muslim and non-Muslim friends to spend time with residents and help serve a meal.

"This is when people are going to look at our community, and when they do, what are they going to see?" said Rahman, a policy director for the Interfaith Youth Core, which promotes pluralism. "Sometimes, saying 'Islam means peace,' feels a little defensive and apologetic, whereas service is really core to our faith."

Unity Productions Foundation, a Washington-area group that specializes in films about Islam and Muslim Americans, will hold an interfaith talk on Sept. 11 at the Washington Jewish Community Center.

Speakers include Monem Salam, the subject of a Unity Productions film titled, "On a Wing and a Prayer: An American Muslim Learns to Fly." Unity recently launched, where visitors can view films and use them for community discussion about Islam in the U.S.

Salam, 38, of Bellingham, Wash., usually spends the Eid weekend with his wife and three young children, but said he persuaded his wife he had to participate in the event.

"I have to leave them and go across the country to answer questions about Islam," said Salam, a portfolio manager who was 4 years old when his family left Pakistan for the U.S. "It's unfortunate. It's the time that we live in."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rallies At Ground Zero Mosque Site

NEW YORK --The proposed mosque near ground zero drew hundreds of fever-pitch demonstrators Sunday, with opponents carrying signs associating Islam with blood, supporters shouting, "Say no to racist fear!" and American flags waving on both sides.

The two leaders of the construction project, meanwhile, defended their plans, though one suggested that organizers might eventually be willing to discuss an alternative site. The other, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, said during a Middle East trip that the attention generated by the project is actually positive and that he hopes it will bring greater understanding.

Around the corner from the cordoned-off old building that is to become a 13-story Islamic community center and mosque, police separated the two groups of demonstrators. There were no reports of physical clashes but there were some nose-to-nose confrontations, including a man and a woman screaming at each other across a barricade under a steady rain.

Opponents of the $100 million project two blocks from the World Trade Center site appeared to outnumber supporters. Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" blared over loudspeakers as mosque opponents chanted, "No mosque, no way!

Signs hoisted by dozens of protesters standing behind police barricades read "SHARIA" -- using dripping, blood-red letters to describe Islam's Shariah law, which governs the behavior of Muslims.

Steve Ayling, a 40-year-old Brooklyn plumber who carried his sign to a dry spot by an office building, said the people behind the mosque project are "the same people who took down the twin towers."

Opponents demand that the mosque be moved farther from the site where nearly 3,000 people were killed on Sept. 11, 2001. "They should put it in the Middle East," Ayling said.

On a nearby sidewalk, police chased away a group that unfurled a banner with images of beating, stoning and other torture they said was committed by those who followed Islamic law.

A man wearing a keffiyeh, a traditional Arab headdress, mounted one of two mock missiles that were part of an anti-mosque installation. One missile was inscribed with the words: "Again? Freedom Targeted by Religion"; the other with "Obama: With a middle name Hussein. We understand. Bloomberg: What is your excuse?"

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has fiercely defended plans for the proposed mosque, saying that the right "to practice your religion was one of the real reasons America was founded.

"The mosque project is being led by Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan, who insist the center will promote moderate Islam. The dispute has sparked a national debate on religious freedom and American values and is becoming an issue on the campaign trail ahead of the midterm elections. Republicans have been critical of President Barack Obama's stance: He has said the Muslims have the right to build the center at the site but has not commented on whether he thinks they should.

Rauf is in the middle of a Mideast trip funded by the U.S. State Department that is intended to promote religious tolerance. He told a gathering Sunday at the U.S. ambassador's residence in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain that he took heart from the dispute over the mosque, saying "the fact we are getting this kind of attention is a sign of success."

"It is my hope that people will understand more," Rauf said without elaborating.

Democratic New York Gov. David Paterson has suggested that state land farther from ground zero be used for the center. Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, expressed some openness to that idea on ABC's "This Week with Christiane Amanpour," but said she would have to meet with the center's other "stakeholders" first.

"We want to build bridges," Khan said. "We don't want to create conflict, this is not where we were coming from. So, this is an opportunity for us to really turn this around and make this into something very, very positive. So we will meet, and we will do what is right for everyone."

But Khan also said the angry reaction to the project "is like a metastasized anti-Semitism.

"It's not even Islamophobia. It's beyond Islamophobia," she said. "It's hate of Muslims."

At the pro-mosque rally, staged a block away from opponents' demonstration, several hundred people chanted, "Muslims are welcome here! We say no to racist fear!"

Dr. Ali Akram, a 39-year-old Brooklyn physician, came with his three sons and an 11-year-old nephew waving an American flag. He noted that scores of Muslims were among those who died in the towers, and he called those who oppose the mosque "un-American."

"They teach their children about the freedom of religion in America -- but they don't practice what they preach," Akram said. John Green, who lost a friend in the attacks, said that although organizers have the right to build the project, "I think if they moved it, they would get the respect of more Americans than if they play hardball." He was demonstrating in the group of mosque opponents.

Gila Barzvi, whose son, Guy, was killed in the towers, stood with mosque opponents, clutching a large photo of her son with both hands.

"This is sacred ground and it's where my son was buried," the native Israeli from Queens said. She said the mosque would be "like a knife in our hearts."

She was joined by a close friend, Kobi Mor, who flew from San Francisco to participate in the rally.

If the mosque gets built, "we will bombard it," Mor said. He would not elaborate but added that he believes the project "will never happen."

Rauf, in an interview with Bahrain's Al Wasat newspaper, said America's sweeping constitutional rights are more in line with Islamic principles than the limits imposed by some Muslim nations.

"American Muslims have the right to practice their religion in accordance with the Constitution of the United States," Rauf said. "I see the article of independence as more compliant with the principles of Islam than what is available in many of the current Muslim countries."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Our Secret Muslim President

Which is the sadder commentary on the state of public discourse in the United States here in the late summer of 2010:

That 20 percent of Americans told pollsters they believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim?

Or, that suggesting someone is a Muslim would be circulated as a way to denigrate that person?

Two facts about the poll results released last week by the Pew Research Center are particularly distressing. First, the poll was taken before President Obama waded into the controversy surrounding plans to build an Islamic center including a mosque near the Ground Zero site in New York City. That means that if the poll were taken today, the percentage holding that opinion would undoubtedly be greater. Second, and perhaps most astoundingly, the percentage of Americans who say Mr. Obama is a Muslim is considerably higher now than it was when he assumed the presidency 18 months ago.

What does it all mean? Nothing good. That was a time when conspiracy theories and blatant falsehoods were relegated to the far fringes of society. But thanks to the prevalence of Internet-fueled rumors — and, sad to say, the decline and vilification by many of the once-trusted "mainstream media" — it is now much more likely for such bizarre beliefs to spread. (And if you don't think the notion that President Obama is a Muslim is tantamount to a conspiracy theory, just consider how many millions of people in government, media and ordinary life would have to be involved in upholding the "lie" that he is a Christian.)

Less strange, but perhaps more sad, is the reason Mr. Obama's enemies are spreading this falsehood: their supreme confidence that being labeled a Muslim is a sinister mark against him, akin to alcoholism or philandering. In light of the shameful reaction to the Manhattan mosque episode, we fear it may be a long time indeed before this particular variety of "slander" loses its currency.

Saturday, August 21, 2010




Contact: Coalition to Honor Ground Zero at or (212) 726-1124




DATE: Sunday morning, August 22

BACKGROUND: On August 19-22, 2010, America’s 9/11 Foundation, an organization that first coalesced eight weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, will conduct its ninth trek for motorcyclists to the three 9/11 crash sites, at Shanksville, PA, the Pentagon and the World Trade Center site in New York City. (

SUNDAY MORNING EVENTS AT GROUND ZERO: On Sunday morning, at 8:30 a.m. a flag line and memorial at Ground Zero will gather at Ground Zero to greet the arriving Memorial Ride.

Following the flag line, which will be joined by members of the Coalition to Honor Ground Zero, the Coalition will invite all patriots to move to the site of the controversial proposed mosque for a major rally to begin at approximately 10:30a.m.

WHO: Motorcyclists from across America; the Coalition to Honor Ground Zero; Blue Collar Corner; The Bravest; 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America; Women United International (; ACT Manhattan; and many other organizations and leaders to be announced, as well as local residents living in the Ground Zero area. The Coalition to Honor Ground Zero is calling upon all patriots to show support for the missions of America’s 9/11 Foundation and of the Patriot Guard Riders, by joining the flag-line at Ground Zero in the morning. Further information about participating organizations and speakers will be released later this week.

Many of the participants in the Memorial Ride are members of the Patriot Guard Riders ( and other military and first responder support groups, who will be forming the flag line starting at Ground Zero at 8:30AM for the Ride’s concluding ceremonies. The Patriot Guard Riders (nearly 200,000 strong nation-wide) ride escort and stand flag lines in honor and respect of those who have given their all in service to America.

"We are inviting all to join us in actively honoring our active and veteran servicemen and women and our first responders including firemen, police and EMT workers on Sunday." says Dave Kern, NY State Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders.

Coalition to Honor Ground Zero

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bikers Honor 9/11 Victims With Annual Ride

SHANKSVILLE — Bikers wearing red, white and blue bandanas and with American flags flying from their motorcycles gathered outside this tiny town Thursday on their way to visit hallowed ground. Their three destinations: The nearby site of the crash of Flight 93, the Pentagon and, eventually, ground zero in New York City.

More than 700 bikers and police officers are participating in the 10th annual ride, sponsored by the America’s 911 Foundation.

Many said they want the focus to be on reminding people what happened on Sept. 11, 2001 – not the current controversy over a proposed Islamic center and mosque near where the twin towers once stood.

“It’s a remembrance ride. A lot of the general public have become complacent with the events of Sept. 11. That can’t be,” said Rick Flick, 50, who lives in western Pennsylvania and has been participating in the ride for nine years.

A volunteer firefighter, Flick was on the scene after Flight 93 crashed and said the ride is personal for him.

Bill and Mary Byers, of Washington, Pa., are participating in their first ride with the group. A longtime biker, 51-year-old Bill Byers has never been to ground zero and has mixed feelings about the proposed mosque.

“Muslims are like any other religion. The people who are putting this mosque up are just regular people,” said Byers, wearing a black leather vest with a pentagonal patch that is the ride’s logo. At the same time, he said, “You don’t want to have the families feel they are disrespected.”

Pete Burgoon, 65, a member of the Red Knights, a motorcycle club for firefighters, greeted bikers arriving in town. Wearing a red T-shirt and black leather vest, the Altoona resident said the ride is a chance for people to pause and think about the lives that were lost that day.

The America’s 911 Foundation was started by Ted Sjurseth and his wife, Lisa, just weeks after the attacks, and the group had its first ride to New York City that fall.

The group was started with the goal of bringing back tourists and money to businesses hard hit by the attacks; it later evolved to a group dedicated to honoring first responders, as well as promoting volunteerism, said Roger Flick, of Damascus, Md., the group’s promotion’s manager.

Bikes started lining up Thursday outside a hotel in Somerset where the ride is to start early today. Riders will be escorted by dozens of police on motorcycles, and participants are expected from as far away as California.(Photo taken from previous ride) The participants visited a temporary memorial set up at the Flight 93 crash site about 10 miles away. Construction is under way on a permanent memorial there, and the first phase of it is expected to be completed in time for the 10th anniversary of the attacks next year.

Ride organizers hope to also have their biggest turnout ever next year, with a bike for each of the more than 2,000 people who died in the attacks.

“This will be my ninth ride,” Flick said, “and I’ve done it every year with a knot in my throat when I think about why we’re doing this.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

N.Y. Governor to Meet With "Ground Zero" Mosque Developers But No Plans to Relocate

New York Gov. David Paterson expects to meet in the near future with developers of a proposed Islamic cultural center that would include a mosque near Manhattan's Ground Zero, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, but a key voice in the discussion denied to Fox News any plans to relocate."

Paterson last week offered his help and the possibility that state land could be used for an alternative site for the project.

The Post reported Tuesday that Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook said that the governor's staff is talking with developers, but no formal discussions have taken place on the the $100 million building.

"However, we expect to have a meeting scheduled in the near future," he said.

After a similar report appeared Monday in an Israeli newspaper, Sharif El-Gamal of SoHo Properties, which owns the property at Park 51, said it's absolutely wrong to suggest that the site is being abandoned.

"No. No. No," El-Gamal said.

'The reports that we may be abandoning the project are completely incorrect. We are committed to our plans of building Park 51 to serve the community of lower Manhattan. Our mission is one of peace, understanding and tolerance," he said.

The 13-story Islamic cultural center and mosque that would be located two blocks from where the World Trade Center stood until Sept. 11, 2001, has raised a national argument over the First Amendment and anger over the terror attacks.

Supporters say the mosque and its founders do not represent the beliefs of anyone associated with the attack on the U.S. that day, and its construction will represent the freedom of religion that America prizes.

Opponents say it's not a constitutional question, but one of right and wrong since no one wants to deny the Muslim community the right to practice its religion, but to show a greater respect and sensitivity for the tragedy.

The issue has caused a major debate among politicians, including President Obama, whose various comments over the weekend have forced lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to stake positions on whether they support the mosque's location or prefer the developers to move it.

Congress and the White House have no recourse to prevent its construction, and local officials last week approved new construction at the site, which is currently an old Burlington Coat Factory building that suffered damage from landing gear from one of the planes that hit the Twin Towers.

Late Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is in a tough race for re-election, suggested SoHo Properties find an alternate location. The statement was cast as a break from the president on an increasingly unpopular issue.

The White House said Tuesday it got the heads-up from Reid that he was going to side against the mosque's site.

"We had a sense of what they were going to do," White House spokesman Bill Burton said, describing Reid as an independent individual and strong leader in the Democratic Party.

However, one imam who complained that Muslims are being prevented from building mosques elsewhere around the country chastised Reid.

"It has political capital, but very negative political capital. It speaks to the worst of politics to advance aspirations for the White House, Senate or House or people already in the Senate, the majority leader of Senate, because the race is so close in Nevada. I'm talking about Harry Reid," Mahdi Bray, executive director of Muslim American Society Freedom.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, who strongly opposes Park 51 as the site for the mosque, will attend a previously scheduled appearance at a fundraiser Friday night for Chris Gibson, a GOP congressional candidate in upstate New York, who says political opponents have tried to distort his stance that there should not be a mosque near Ground Zero.

"As someone who wore our nation's uniform and helped fight against those who share the extremist views of our attackers on that fateful day, I am disappointed political operatives would distort my words on the matter of how we best honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks," he said in a written statement.

"I do not support the construction of a mosque and have always felt it's neither the time nor place for it," he said.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

16 Year Old Ellicott City Girl Injured In Uganda Terror Attack

As Emily Kerstetter and her fellow church mission members enjoyed a meal at an Ethiopian restaurant in Uganda, the 16-year-old Ellicott City resident told her new friends that she wanted to stay and work through the rest of the summer.

She had already extended her trip once, opting out of her original flight that departed five days earlier. She was ready for more.

Minutes later, a suicide bomber struck outside the restaurant, one of two attacks in the Ugandan capital of Kampala that killed at least 74 people and wounded 85 others, including Emily, her grandmother and three other members of her group. Ugandan police believe an al-Qaida-linked group, al-Shabab, is behind the bombings at the restaurant and a rugby club. At both locations, crowds had gathered to watch the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands outdoors on a large-screen TV.

Emily sustained a serious leg injury, but was in stable condition on Monday, said Liskovec, who was in contact with U.S. government sources. Joanne Kerstetter, her paternal grandmother and traveling companion, had an elbow injury but was in good enough condition to accompany her granddaughter to Johannesburg, South Africa, for surgery. Her parents, Matthew and Jennifer Kerstetter, took a Monday afternoon flight to meet them.

The other four members of the party, a mission group organized by Joanne Kerstetter's Selinsgrove, Pa., church, sustained injuries that were not life-threatening, according to the Rev. Kathleen Kind, pastor at Christ Community Church.

Joanne Kerstetter asked her granddaughter earlier this year to accompany her on the trip, said Liskovec. But the elder Kerstetter warned her granddaughter it wouldn't be easy. Emily would have to raise $4,000 to finance the mission.

The then-sophomore at Mount de Sales Academy in Catonsville contacted family, friends, relatives and anyone she could think of to support her cause, said Liskovec. In a newsletter for Mount de Sales Academy, Emily asked her community at the private school for help. "I am feeling that God is calling me to reach out to those who are less fortunate," she wrote in April. "I have been presented with this opportunity to grow in charity toward others." At that point she had raised only $1,000.

Chantel Hunter, a classmate, said via e-mail yesterday that Emily is known as a caring person who "is always thinking of others before herself."

Liskovec said neither she nor Emily's parents have been able to contact the girl but have received word of her condition from the State Department and FBI.

Such a deadly attack came as a shock to the missionaries. Kind said her church has sent members on mission trips to Uganda for years. Eight other members of the church's party had returned on the flight last week.

Kind said Joanne Kerstetter has been a part of several trips, and considers her to be a pillar of the church. "Before she left, she asked every child in the church to pray for her," Kind said. "That comes from a place of sincerity and deep faith."

In Washington, President Barack Obama spoke with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday to express his condolences for the loss of life in the bombings. Obama offered to provide any support or assistance needed in Uganda, said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Gibbs said that, while the FBI is assisting in the ongoing investigation, the U.S. believes that there is "no clearer signal of the hateful motives of terrorists than was sent yesterday."

A California-based aid group said one of its workers, Nate Henn, 25, of Brandywine Hundred, Del., was among the dead, the only confirmed American casualty.

One of the leaders on Emily's team, Lori Ssebulime, told the Associated Press the members had arrived early at the restaurant for dinner to get good seats to view the soccer match. After the blast, Ssebulime said, she scrambled around the bodies, found Emily and got her inside a minivan.

"Emily was rolling around in a pool of blood screaming," she said. Ssebulime added, "The blast happened. It was total chaos. I fell over backward. Everything was gray. Five minutes before it went off, Emily said she was going to cry so hard because she didn't want to leave. She wanted to stay the rest of the summer here."

"A couple of people have said, 'Man if she'd only come home,' " said Nikki Liskovec, a family friend and former next-door neighbor of Emily and her parents. "But if you'd seen Emily's face, she loved doing this work. You'd understand why she was there."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Read the letter to Obama here!

Americans, it is time to unite, not as Republicans or Democrats, not as Conservatives or Liberals or Progressives.

It is time to unite as CITIZENS.

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have forgotten that their chief duty is the safety and the security of the American people.


AG Eric Holder will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, November 18, to testify about the administration's plan to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed back to the scene of Al Qaeda's greatest single atrocity--Ground Zero--where he will brag about the slaughter of 3,000 innocent men, women and children and his lawyers will tell a "jury of his peers" that HE is a victim of the U.S. Government.

This is insanity.

Please join 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, firefighters of and Keep America Safe in Washington, D.C. to tell Eric Holder and members of Congress,


We know this is short notice....but that's how the Administration planned it...they are counting on you just sitting this out, yelling at the cable news coverage of this outrage instead of showing up and changing the narrative in the MSM echo chamber.

Where: Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room G-50

Constitution Avenue and 1st Street, NE

U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.

When: Wednesday, November 18, 9:30 am

Who: AG Eric Holder

More to follow...

Hat Tip; Kack