So even as he officially condemned the Sept. 11 attacks, his words could easily have been seen as implying that the 19 terrorists were nonetheless acting in self-defense for the broader Muslim world.
While it would be nice to grant him the benefit of the doubt, such gray area is likely not accidental from a man who this summer refused to call Hamas a terrorist organization.
Openly violent rhetoric is understandably of great concern to law enforcement and news editors, but such statements arguably are not as dangerous as those that plant the seeds that could eventually lead a young Muslim to believe that his action is required in order to defend Islam from the United States.
Calls to arms merely command someone to find and use a gun. Convincing someone with a strong, familial kinship to his co-religionists that his fellow Muslims are being unjustly slaughtered, however, instills in the listener a desire to find his own gun and a reason to use it.
In the case of Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan last year, it appears that authorities ignored the glaring warning signs they discovered long before his alleged rampage because he didn't explicitly spell out plans to commit violence.
But had those officials known what actually inspires young Muslims to become jihadists, they instantly would have recognized Maj. Hasan as a security threat and, hopefully, taken pre-emptive action.
Aside from exchanging e-mails with an al Qaeda-linked cleric, Maj. Hasan heaped praised in an Internet posting on suicide bombers who “save Muslims” by killing soldiers—the very people among whom he lived and worked. Despite the official Department of Defense whitewash that purged mention of his Islamic motivations, Maj. Hasan surely went on his alleged rampage in order to “save Muslims” from U.S. attack.
Rauf was right about one thing in his CNN interview. He said, “Our national security now hinges on how we negotiate this.”
Giving Rauf the platform to peddle tall tales of Islamic victimization with the powerful symbolic background of Ground Zero could easily result in some number of young Muslims sympathizing with the heinous attacks.
How much of a stretch would it really be to imagine a few of his followers going one step further by becoming inspired to strike an even mightier blow against the United States?
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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