Last year, the right-wing Christian Action Network and PRB films produced a “documentary” called “Homegrown Jihad: The Terrorist Camps Around U.S.” It claims to expose 35 “Islamic terrorist training compounds” devoted to “radical Pakistani cleric, Sheikh Mubarak Gilani.” (Watch the trailer here.) In February 2009, CBS News reviewed the film and dismissed it as nothing more than “sensationalistic” fear-mongering:
Officials describe the film to CBS News as “sensationalistic” and without any real foundation. According to one official, it is strictly designed to upset and inflame people and does not present a true picture of any so-called “homegrown Jihad” danger. No current intelligence exists to suggest any threat connected with this group, which officials describe as “wannabes” and not terrorists.
Nevertheless, a year later, the Nashville CBS affiliate (Channel 5) decided to give the film legitimacy by conducting an “EXCLUSIVE” investigation into a Muslim community in rural Tennessee called Islamville, which is featured in the movie. “Some believe it is a secret Islamic terrorist training camp,” reads the Channel 5 article. “Others have said that’s simply not true. In a NewsChannel 5 Exclusive Special Report, Nick Beres went looking for the truth.”
What Beres found was a quiet community that willingly allowed him onto their property, although he made sure to point out that it’s built in “a clearing of trees” and is “very remote.” One person even joined Beres and Stewart County Sheriff John Vinson — who has said that there is no terrorist activity going on in Islamville — to show them around. What Channel 5 found:
Frankly, there was not much to see. … There are single and double-wide trailers along with a few houses and a tent for the 40 or so people who live there. … We saw children out playing. Driving, we saw a couple more youngsters walking home, and two women running. Others, we learned, were off working jobs in Dover and even Nashville. There is a mosque in the middle of the village, and they allowed us inside for a look around. It’s a place of prayer, five times of day, and Sheriff Vinson believes that is the focus of what they do: pray, not train terrorists.
Beres added that he didn’t go in every building, but they saw every corner of the community from the ground and the air and saw no evidence of terrorist activities. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop the station from airing a two–part report and lending credibility to the dangerous claims of “Homegrown Jihad.” Watch Part II of Channel 5’s report:
Just a week after Channel 5’s reports aired, the Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Nashville has been vandalized with anti-Muslim graffiti:
The Nashville City Paper also reports that members of the mostly Somali congregation found a handwritten note “taped to the outside of their youth training building a few blocks away,” with the words “The Enemy Is Islam” underlined at the top. The note “was filled with statements tying Muslims to Satan and the downfall of Western nations.” Salaad Nur, a spokesman for the mosque, pointed to the recent Channel 5 report as a possible catalyst for the hate crime:
“It’s unexpected,” he adds. “The only thing I can think of is the sensationalized reporting [by Channel 5] over Sunday and Monday. That’s the only thing I can think of. Even after 9/11 we have never had any vandalism.“
Since the vandalism yesterday, Channel 5 has mentioned the crime several times, but only briefly as part of its news round-ups. Where’s the two-part series on this incident? (HT: @agolis)