Is The Call For Jihad From American Mosques Protected Free Speech?

  • Sure. It must be. Jihad is peaceful ‘inner struggle’, don’t-cha know? What could go wrong?


The trial and convictions reported in the story below raise a question that America is going to have to grapple with in the next few years:  At what point does the constitutional protection of free speech no longer apply to those who speak about carrying out violent jihad?

For instance, is an imam’s call to jihad, echoing throughout an American mosque, constitutionally protected speech?

Lawyers who we have talked to say the question comes down to an assessment of whether or not the call to jihad is incitement to violence that amounts to an “imminent threat.”  Yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is an example of speech that creates an imminent threat of injury to the moviegoers, and is thus not protected speech.

* This “fire in a crowded theatre” canard has been masterfully plucked by Mark Steyn, here…

At what point does calling for jihad become the equivalent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater?  We in America deeply cherish the right to free speech, but are we at risk of enabling the seeds of our own destruction by erring too far in the protection of speech that calls for jihad against us?

Walid Phares, in his excellent book Future Jihad, argues that “…U.S. and western strategies are a reaction to terror actions.”  (p. 197, emphasis in original).  His point is that the jihadist ideology is what produces the jihadist actions, that the history of militant Islam demonstrates this, and until we address what he terms the “factory” that produces jihad, we will fall short of success in defeating jihad.  

In other words, given the clear pronouncements for jihad against infidels embedded throughout Islam’s holy books, and 1,400 years of Islamic history of violent jihad resulting from the call to jihad in those unholy books, it is not unreasonable to conclude a cause and effect relationship between the ideology of jihad and the actions of jihad.  

Radical Islam is  a supremacist political ideology, and it is not the only such ideology that has ever existed.  Nazism immediately comes to mind.  Here in America, the Ku Klux Klan built a violent supremacist movement based upon hate and a twisting of the Bible.  Each of these ideologies have certain things in common, including treating “non-believers” as second-class citizens and the call to violence against those “non-believers.”

So let us close with two questions.  Would 21st century America celebrate the “rights” of a Grand Wizard of the KKK publicly calling for the lynching of African-Americans?  By the same token, then, should America celebrate the “rights” of Islamists in America who publicly call for jihad against infidels in America?  

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    5 convicted in Sears Tower jihad plot

    “Men.” “Miami men.” “Men mostly of Haitian descent.” And then, finally, al-Qaeda is mentioned and some partial ideological context is established. An update on this story. “5 Miami men convicted of Sears Tower attack plot,” by Curt Anderson for the Associated Press, May 12 (thanks to JW):

    MIAMI – It took three trials, three juries and nearly three years, but federal prosecutors finally succeeded Tuesday in convicting five Miami men of plotting to start an anti-government insurrection by destroying Chicago’s Sears Tower and bombing FBI offices. One man was acquitted.

    When the FBI swarmed the downtrodden Liberty City neighborhood to make the arrests in June 2006, the administration of President George W. Bush hailed the case as a prime example of the Justice Department’s post-Sept. 11 policy of disrupting potential terror plots in the earliest possible stages.

    Yet hours of FBI recordings of terrorist talk contrasted with little concrete evidence of an evolving plot, triggering two mistrials because juries could not agree on verdicts against ringleader Narseal Batiste or five followers. One of the original seven defendants was acquitted after the first trial.

    “Any cases that involve someone’s mental intent, their intention when they made certain statements, are always difficult,” said Matthew Orwig, former U.S. attorney in Texas who has monitored the Miami case. “It was a must-win for the government. They needed some vindication.”

    Finally, this third jury found the way on its sixth day of deliberations.

    It wasn’t the only victory Tuesday for terrorism prosecutors. In a separate case in New York, a jury convicted a Lebanese-born Swede of trying to set up a terror training camp in Oregon in 1999. The verdict against Oussama Kassir capped a three-week trial.

    In the Miami case, Batiste, 35, was the only one convicted of all four terrorism-related conspiracy counts, including plotting to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to wage war against the U.S. Batiste, who was on the vast majority of FBI recordings, faces up to 70 years in prison.

    Batiste’s right-hand man, 29-year-old Patrick Abraham, was convicted on three counts and faces 50 years behind bars. Convicted on two counts and facing 30 years are 24-year-old Burson Augustin, 25-year-old Rotschild Augustine and 33-year-old Stanley Grant Phanor. Naudimar Herrera, 25, was cleared of all four charges.

    U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard set sentencing for July 27 for the five convicted men, most of whom are Haitian or have Haitian ancestry.

    Herrera criticized the prosecution as “bogus” and insisted the men banded together not for terrorism but to explore ways to lift up the impoverished, drug-infested area.

    “It’s not right,” Herrera said outside the courthouse. “We were really all about helping the community.”

    The jury endured a two-month trial, then had to restart deliberations last week after one juror was excused for illness and a second was booted off the panel for being uncooperative. After the verdicts were read, court security officials escorted the jury — whose names were kept secret — out of the building before they could be interviewed.

    “This was a difficult trial, and we thank all the prosecutors and agents involved, whose efforts resulted in today’s successful conclusion,” said Miami U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta, a holdover Bush appointee.

    Prosecutors Richard Gregorie and Jacqueline Arango focused on the group’s intent as captured on dozens of FBI audio and video recordings. Batiste is repeatedly heard espousing violence against the U.S. government and saying the men should start a “full ground war” that would “kill all the devils.”

    “I want to fight some jihad,” Batiste says on one tape.

    A key piece of evidence is an FBI video of the entire group pledging an oath of allegiance, or “bayat,” to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden in a March 16, 2006, ceremony led by an Arabic-speaking FBI informant posing as “Brother Mohammed” from al-Qaida. Testimony also showed the men took photographs and video of possible targets in Miami, including the FBI building, a courthouse complex and a synagogue.

    But Batiste, who testified in all three trials, insisted he was only going along with Mohammed so he could obtain $50,000 or more for his struggling construction business and a nascent community outreach program. Batiste was leader of a Miami chapter of a sect known as the Moorish Science Temple, which combines elements of Christianity, Judaism and Islam and does not recognize the U.S. government’s full authority….