Bin Laden’s Willing Accomplices

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August 19, 2010 6:38 a.m.

Those who oppose the drive to block the Cordoba House project in lower Manhattan have mainly focused on the 1st Amendment and American pluralism in their public statements. And that is, in many ways, as it should be because those arguments go to the core of who we are as Americans. What’s gotten far less comment is an at least as potent pragmatic or perhaps better to say strategic argument. Quite simply, the furor of opposition to the Cordoba House project and the spasm of Islamophobia is the best recruiting tool that bin Laden and his imitators could possibly hope for. As Ali Soufan, a near legendary FBI counter-terrorism interrogator has just written in Forbes, in the wake of the anti-Mosque furor, bin Laden’s “next video script has just written itself.”What is important to recognize is that this opinion is close to universal among people in the counter-terrorism business. And by this I mean, people who actually operationally work in counter-terrorism, people who work in public diplomacy for the US abroad and people who study trends in counter-terrorism and Islamic radicalism both in the US and abroad. In this regard, it’s important to distinguish people in the counter-terrorism business or what we might call counter-terrorism professionals from what we might term counter-terrorism or anti-radical Islam activists, of whom almost all the high profile opponents of the Cordoba House project fall. These are the Pam Gellers, the Robert Spencers and David Horowitzes and all the rest. You can disagree or agree with their arguments about Islam — and I’ve made my own views on that point pretty clear. But very little of what they even talk about has to do with the actual nuts and bolts and heading off the growth of terror networks and taking them down once they’re coalesced into existence.

So if the 1st Amendment and the American tradition of pluralism doesn’t float your boat, you can always fall back on what’s more or less likely to help terrorist recruiting and get you and your family blown to smithereens. Both point in the same direction.

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