For months, conservatives have led a hateful campaign against the proposed Park 51 Islamic community center that is going to be built two blocks away from Ground Zero in New York City. High-ranking Republicans have spearheaded this campaign, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich even going as far as to claim that Park 51 will act as a launching pad for the introduction of “Sharia law” to America.
Now, Newsweek reveals the most concrete evidence yet that this campaign is serving to bolster support for Islamic radicalism abroad. In an interview with the magazine, a Taliban operative going by the name Zabihullah said that, by “preventing this mosque from being built, America is doing us a big favor.” He goes on to explain that the anti-mosque campaign is providing the Taliban with “with more recruits, donations, and popular support.” Another Taliban official expects that the anti-mosque campaign will provoke a “new wave of terrorist trainees from the West,” similar to suspected Times Square car bomber Faisal Shahzad. Zabihullah concludes, the “more mosques you stop, the more jihadis we will get”:
Taliban officials know it’s sacrilegious to hope a mosque will not be built, but that’s exactly what they’re wishing for: the success of the fiery campaign to block the proposed Islamic cultural center and prayer room near the site of the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan. “By preventing this mosque from being built, America is doing us a big favor,” Taliban operative Zabihullah tells NEWSWEEK. (Like many Afghans, he uses a single name.) “It’s providing us with more recruits, donations, and popular support.” [...]
Taliban officials say they’re looking forward to a new wave of terrorist trainees from the West like this year’s Times Square car bomber. “I expect we will soon be receiving more American Muslims like Faisal Shahzad who are looking for help in how to express their rage,” says a Taliban official who was a senior minister when the group ruled Afghanistan and who remains active in the insurgency. As an indication of the anger that is growing among some Muslims in the West, this official, who requested anonymity for security reasons, mentions the arrest of three Canadian Muslims in Ontario last week on charges of plotting to build and detonate improvised explosive devices. (A fourth individual was arrested in Ottawa last Friday in connection with the case.) The Ground Zero furor will likely add to that anger. “The more mosques you stop, the more jihadis we will get,” Zabihullah predicts.
As ThinkProgress previously noted, researchers at Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill concluded in a study earlier this year that contemporary mosques in the United States serve as a deterrent to Islamic radicalism. It now appears that the relationship works both ways. As the majority of tolerant and progressive Muslim Americans — like those heading Park 51 and other mosques — are prevented from peacefully practicing their own faith, the more likely it is that Muslims across the world will be radicalized and turned violent.