One of the strengths of America is that we have a great deal of freedom to say and display what we want: however outrageous, ill-advised, or daft it is. The War on Terror is giving America an opportunity to review and re-define just where freedom ends, and reasonable protections begin.
Freedom, Yes: Absolute Freedom, NoAmerica has restricted certain sorts of speech before. I'm old enough to remember when "The Marlboro Man" was a cultural icon, on display in family magazines and television. Now, he's been banned because smoking is bad for you.
Today, people are using free speech to advocate methods of death which may be less lingering and painful than lung cancer, but leave victims just as dead.
"This is what you call a success story"Here's what the only news agency I've found to date carrying the story says about "Revolution.Muslimpad:" "NEW YORK — When former Guantanamo inmate Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi blew up an Iraqi police station — and himself — in April, a U.S.-based Web site was quick to post a reaction.
" 'This is what you call a success story,' Revolution.Muslimpad said of the homicide attack, which killed six. It described al-Ajmi as a hero, a 'martyrdom bomber' who sacrificed 'his life for the sake of Islam.' "
"When the blog, also called 'The Ignored Puzzle Pieces of Knowledge,' listed its top 'scholars of Islam' and people to 'take knowledge from,' it wasn't hard to notice that the list of 63 names contained mostly known terrorists — including Usama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The site provides links to their works, all translated into English."
What's outstanding about this website is that it is well-done, technically, and written in English, by someone who understands English, for English-speaking people. Specifically, it seems, Americans.
Apparently, a 22-year-old American in Charlotte, North Carolina, Samir Khan, thought up "The Ignored Puzzle Pieces of Knowledge."
"But terror experts say it is unique because it is written in English for a Western audience and makes accessible radical Islamic content and context found mainly on Arabic-language sites.
" 'This Web site is one of the premiere English-language sites promoting terrorism,' said cyberterrorism expert Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Jewish human rights group the Wiesenthal Center.
"On Thursday Cooper presented a report on Capitol Hill on the dangers Internet sites like Revolution.Muslimpad pose to young, impressionable Muslims. His report, 'Digital Terrorism and Hate 2.0,' references the Web site four times as an example of how Islamic extremists recruit for Al Qaeda."
I'm no fan of regulating or restricting the Internet. Last month, I posted "YouTube Banned by China: Online Censorship?" (March 17, 2008):
"Be Careful What You Ask For"Next time you read about some wonderful-sounding idea about regulating the Internet, remember Tibet, China, and YouTube: Deciding who can watch what can have undesirable consequences."
On the other hand, Revolution.Muslimpad does look dangerous.
There's a discussion going on at military.com, "North Carolina Web Site Said to Be 'Gateway Drug' To Terror," which may be interesting.
I did a quick check, finding that the domain, muslimpad.com, was first registered in October of 2006, and is owned by an outfit called Islamic Network, in Worthington, Ohio.
Update: May 28, 2008.
Comments to this post helped me add another website to this blog's blogroll:
Defenders Council of Vermont
- "...our mission is to educate the citizens of Vermont about the nature, reality and threat of radical Islam, deepen Vermonters' understanding of America's heritage, honor the men and women of the armed services and their families, and support the efforts of others to help our armed forces work with local populations in foreign lands."
- Defenders Council of Vermont's Executive Director added a for-more-information email address, in a comment today.
"If any one would like more information about our organization please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ...."