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Apology soothes outrage in Iraq: U.S. soldier punished for abusing Quran

By Alexandra Zavis
Tribune newspapers
May 19, 2008

BAGHDAD — U.S. commanders moved swiftly to avert a crisis after a soldier deployed in Baghdad was found to have used a copy of the Quran for target practice.

The incident risked compromising the delicate alliance that the U.S. military has been forging with Sunni Arab communities against religious extremists.

The military said Sunday that the soldier responsible had been disciplined and pulled from Iraq.

Col. Bill Buckner, a U.S. military spokesman, described the incident as "serious and deeply troubling" but called it an isolated case.
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Behind the Scenes: Apology for a desecration

By Michael Ware

In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences in covering news and analyze the stories behind the events. CNN's Michael Ware covers the Iraq war.

CNN's Michael Ware says the Quran incident could have become a crisis.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- What the Iraqi fighter found threatened America's vital alliance with Sunni militia.

A week ago in a police station shooting range on Baghdad's western outskirts, the American-allied Iraqi militiaman found what one or more GIs had been using for target practice -- a copy of the Quran, Islam's holy book.
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U.S. soldier in Iraq uses Koran for target practice

By Khaled al-Ansary, Reuters
Published: May 18, 2008

BAGHDAD: U.S. military commanders have apologised to community leaders in Iraq after a U.S. soldier used a copy of the Koran for shooting practice, fearing an outburst of anger among U.S.-allied tribesmen.

Bloody protests have sometimes broken out across the Muslim world when the Islamic faith has been insulted. The swift apology by the U.S. commanders appeared aimed at avoiding similar violence in Iraq.

The U.S. military said on Sunday the soldier, who was not identified, had been disciplined and ordered to leave Iraq after a copy of the Muslim holy book was found riddled with bullet holes at a shooting range near Baghdad on May 11.
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The Palestinian 'terrorist' turned Zionist

By Jorg Luyken

When he was 16, says Walid Shoebat, he was recruited by a PLO operative by the name of Mahmoud al-Mughrabi to carry out an attack on a branch of Bank Leumi in Bethlehem.

At six in the evening he was supposed to detonate a bomb in the doorway of the bank. But when he saw a group of Arab children playing nearby, he says, his conscience was pricked and he threw the bomb onto the roof of the bank instead, where it exploded causing no fatalities.

This is the story that Shoebat, who converted from Islam to Christianity in 1993 and has lived in the United States since the late 1970s, has told on tours around the US and Europe since 9/11 opened the West's public consciousness to the dangers of Islamic extremism.
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Apparantly terrorism pays. It pays very well - from CNN AC360

For some time now a trio of self-proclaimed ex-terrorists has been making the rounds of the lecture circuit, charging thousands of dollars for their fantastical tales of life as murderous Muslim extremists.

Their most recent appearance was at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, which hosted the three at its 50th Annual Academy Assembly on the topic, “Dismantling Terrorism: Developing Actionable Solutions for Today’s Plague of Violence.”

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US Air Force Academy encourages Islamophobia?

By: Abdus Sattar Ghazali* -

Three self-styled "ex-terrorists" - Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani - were star speakers on February 5, 2008 at the 50th annual United States Air Force Academy political forum in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The three anti-Muslim fear-mongering bigots have spent the past couple of years on speaking tour across America but this is the first time that the trio has spoken at a military academy for which they picked up $ 13,000.

Shoebat urged his audience to resist "political correctness" and not to fear being labeled a "xenophobe, Islamophobe or American bigot." "The problem with Islam is if you speak out against Islam, you are a racist," Shoebat told a group of about 250 cadets and students.
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Muslims Protest Air Force Academy Guests

Associated Press

DENVER - A Muslim advocacy group is decrying the U.S. Air Force Academy's decision to invite three self-described former terrorists who the group said slam Islam with "hate-filled" rhetoric.

The D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations said one of the speakers, Walid Shoebat, has said that "Islam is the devil."

Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani are scheduled to speak Wednesday at the 50th Annual Academy Assembly in Colorado Springs, where the topic of the four-day event is "Dismantling Terrorism."
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Speakers at Academy Said to Make False Claims

The Air Force Academy was criticized by Muslim and religious freedom organizations for playing host on Wednesday to three speakers who critics say are evangelical Christians falsely claiming to be former Muslim terrorists.

The three men were invited as part of a weeklong conference on terrorism organized by cadets at the academy’s Colorado Springs campus under the auspices of the political science department.

The three will be paid a total of $13,000 for their appearance, some of it from private donors, said Maj. Brett Ashworth, a spokesman for the academy.
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Anti-Islam Air Force Academy Speaker a ‘Fraud’

Three “former terrorists” speaking today at the Air Force Academy will stick to their area of expertise — terrorism — and won’t be promoting Christianity, academy officials said Tuesday.

“No one is here to talk about religion,” academy spokesman Maj. Brett Ashworth said. “The purpose is to educate future officers and delegates from 50 colleges and universities on the ideology and methodology of terrorists in preparation for leadership positions in the war on terror.”

The “former terrorists” — Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zak Anani — will be paid a total of $13,000 for their appearance at the 50th annual Academy Assembly, a conference sponsored by the academy and Columbia University’s American Assembly. Most of the funding comes from private donations through the academy’s Association of Graduates.
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Air Force Academy Speaker Once Claimed 'Islam is the Devil' - Muslim group urges balance to anti-Islam academy assembly speakers

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/5/08) - A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called on the United States Air Force Academy to offer a balancing perspective at an event this week featuring speakers who have a long history of anti-Muslim rhetoric and whose claims of being "reformed terrorists" have been challenged by experts.

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