War on Terror: September 2010 Archives

Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris is "going ghost" -- "moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity" at the insistence of the FBI, according to a story a September 15, 2010, story in the Seattle Weekly. (Via GWSchulzCIR on Twitter.)

She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program--except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab. It's all because of the appalling fatwa issued against her this summer, following her infamous "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" cartoon.

The fatwa came in July from Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born imam based in Yemen who has been linked to "misunderstanders of Islam" (Robert Spencer's tongue-in-cheek phrase) who have attempted and successfully carried out terror attacks in the U. S., including Fort Hood, Times Square, Fort Dix, and Northwest Airlines (the Pantybomber).

Here is what Awlaki allegedly wrote about Norris in Inspire, an English language magazine allegedly produced by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula:

A cartoonist out of Seattle, Washington, named Molly Norris started the "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day". This snowball rolled out from between her evil fingers. She should be taken as a prime target of assassination along with others who participated in her campaign. This campaign is not a practice of freedom of speech, but is a nationwide mass movement of Americans joining their European counterparts in going out of their way to offend Muslims worldwide. They are expressing their hatred of the Messenger of Islām صلى الله عليه وسلم through ridicule. The large number of participants makes it easier for us because there are more targets to choose from in addition to the difficulty of the government offering all of them special protection. But even then our campaign should not be limited to only those who are active participants.

The article goes on to implicate the entire Western political system with its guarantees of free speech:

The main elements in this system are the laws that make this blasphemy legal. Because they are practicing a "right" that is defended by the law, they have the backing of the entire Western political system. This would make the attacking of any Western target legal from an Islāmic viewpoint. The entire Western system is staunchly protecting and promoting the defamation of Muĥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and therefore, it is the entire Western system that is at war with Islām. Assassinations, bombings, and acts of arson are all legitimate forms of revenge against a system that relishes the sacrilege of Islām in the name of freedom.

The FBI took the threat seriously enough to tell Norris to drop out of sight. No doubt authorities took the threat more seriously after the explosion in a Copenhagen on September 11, 2010. Based on a map found in the hotel room, the bomb may have been intended for the offices of Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that published cartoons depicting Mohammed in 2005 in a protest against Western self-censorship to appease radical Muslim sensibilities.

From the New York Daily News story from July:

David Gomez, the FBI's assistant special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Seattle, said Norris and others were warned of the "very serious threat."

"We understand the absolute seriousness of a threat from an Al Qaeda-inspired magazine and are attempting to do everything in our power to assist the individuals on that list to effectively protect themselves and change their behavior to make themselves less of a target," Gomez said.

I wish Molly Norris all the best in her new life, but it's unacceptable that American citizens should have to "change their behavior to make themselves less of a target" in order to avoid getting killed by a self-appointed divine hit squad because of a rather gentle bit of satire, aimed more at the sensibilities of Islamofascists than at the prophet himself.

How should, how can, a freedom-loving nation respond to such threats? Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch writes that at the very least the President of the United States should denounce the threats:

This is the sort of case that the President of the United States should be talking about. Instead of wringing his hands about the prospect of Muslim rioting over Qur'an-burning, the President should go on television and give a brief lesson about how freedom of speech is a foremost bulwark against tyranny and a cornerstone of any society that respects the dignity of the human being. He should say that the idea that Molly Norris would have to live in hiding because of a cartoon, or series of cartoons, is unconscionable, and tell the Islamic world that neither Muslims nor their prophet are harmed by cartoons depicting him, and that their violent rage over such depictions is the only thing that makes people care to draw him in the first place. He should say that to threaten people with death and to kill people over cartoons of Muhammad is sheer madness, and is a form of violent irrationality that is destructive to free societies -- and as such, it is something that the U.S. will do everything it can to resist. Molly Norris and others who are threatened will be given full round-the-clock protection, and if violent protests and riots over cartoons or Qur'an-burning break out in areas where American troops are deployed, those troops will put down those riots and protect the innocent to the fullest possible extent.

Maybe in January 2013 we will have a president who will see the need to do such things, and move to protect and defend Western culture and civilization.

Meanwhile, cases of "Sudden Jihad Syndrome" continue to occur (even in Tulsa), but are reported in ways that downplay the connection to radical Islamism. (For example, the apparent assassination attempt targeting Missouri governor Jay Nixon.) The reluctance of our nation's leaders and mainstream media to name the enemy that seeks the destruction of our liberty has inspired the subtitle of a documentary produced by Newt Gingrich, "America at Risk: The War with No Name."

I had thought that perhaps there would be a service nearby at the Pentagon today, and there will be, but it's a private service, so the memorial there will be closed until noon. So am taking time here at the hotel room desk to remember the events of that day, to remember why they happened, and to remember my friend Jayesh Shah, a graduate of Tulsa Memorial High School and TU, who was working at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center north tower that day.

I don't have anything profound to say today; just some personal memories of the day, the aftermath, and the very ordinary times that were interrupted. Before I get to those, here are some reflections and first-hand accounts of the attacks from other bloggers:

Gerard Vanderleun was watching from Brooklyn Heights when the towers fell, recording his observations online: "Lower span of Brooklyn Bridge jammed with people walking out of the city, many covered with white ash. Ghosts. The Living Dead. BQE empty except for convoys of emergency vehicles."

Juliette Ochieng remembers the architect of the towers, Minoru Yamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. (Yamasaki also designed Tulsa's Bank of Oklahoma Tower and Performing Arts Center.)

Robert N. Going had been to New York City the day before the attacks to drop a foreign visitor off at the airport, pausing on the way for the guest to snap a photo of the skyline. He volunteered at Ground Zero, and he met the man who found the steel cross in the ruins of Building 6.

The Other McCain calls us to remember with the Falling Man documentary.

Midnight Blue Says remembers Cantor Fitzgerald employee Marcello Matricciano and uses clips from that day's morning news shows to remind us what was on the national mind before the towers were hit an hour later.

Now for my memories of the day (click continue reading if you're on the home page)...

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the War on Terror category from September 2010.

War on Terror: September 2009 is the previous archive.

War on Terror: November 2010 is the next archive.

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