Western Herald – Journey through terror

Journey through terror

Self-proclaimed former terrorists share histories at Miller Auditorium

By Koty Neelis
Western Herald

(Robert Youngs / Western Herald) Two self-proclaimed ex-terrorists, Kamal Saleem, left, and Walid Shoebat, held a short Q & A session following their lectures entitled, “Why We Want to Kill You” Tuesday at Miller Auditorium.  Shoebat, who compared Islamic Fundamentalism with Nazism, challenged his critics to dispute his authenticity.

(Robert Youngs / Western Herald) Two self-proclaimed ex-terrorists, Kamal Saleem, left, and Walid Shoebat, held a short Q & A session following their lectures entitled, “Why We Want to Kill You” Tuesday at Miller Auditorium. Shoebat, who compared Islamic Fundamentalism with Nazism, challenged his critics to dispute his authenticity.

Two former terrorists, Walid Shoebat and Kamel Saleem, spoke to approximately 900 people of all ages and faiths at Miller Auditorium Tuesday night.
Shoebat and Saleem talked about their personal histories as former Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists and their life journeys that ultimately led them to convert to Christianity and speak out against extremist Islamic terrorism.

Helping American citizens gain an understanding and awareness as to why terrorism exists was the overall message of the night.
Both speakers discussed how their life was rooted in terrorism at a young age and were taught to believe killing Jews would eventually lead them to their creator.
Shoebat’s story started from his childhood in Jordan and Palestine.

“When I was growing up I heard the Arab community call for the destruction of Israel, for us to throw all Jews into the sea,” he said.

After entering the United States, Shoebat worked as a counselor for the Arab Student Organization in Chicago and continued his anti-Israel beliefs.

It wasn’t until the early 1990s when Shoebat realized everything he had been taught about the Jews was a lie. Events like the Holocaust were taught to him as a young child as being purely fictitious.(Robert Youngs / Western Herald) Shoebat, the son of an American mother and Palestinian father, said that the “focus on salvation [in Islam] is immense” and that Sharia law is a growing problem worldwide.

After that, Shoebat became an advocate of his former enemies and shed his previous life by speaking out to tens of thousands of people to teach them the reason terrorism exists and to speak out for the side of peace.

Saleem had a similar story.

“I want to take you with me on a journey,” he said. “My dad looked at me and said ‘never trust a Jew.’ My mother told me whatever you do in your life it will either count for you or against you. I knew from my childhood I needed to work for my heaven. My mom, she said, ‘if you kill a Jew your head will light up before the heavens.’ This is how my childhood started.”

Saleem spoke out passionately regarding the attacks of Sept. 11.

“When I look at the American flag I see the blood of the Americans who stand for this country,” Saleem said. “When 9/11 took place, America didn’t know what to do with it. They hit the snooze button. Americans like to drink. Americans like to sleep. It’s time to wake up.

“I learned from an early age to live for the cause. That is what I dreamt as a 6-year-old.

“What you are fighting against today has been brewing since our childhood.”(Robert Youngs / Western Herald) Kamal Saleem implores the audience to consider of the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism, saying, “We [Americans] need to wake up.”

Audience reaction was mixed. Glenda Hill, 59, a Kalamazoo resident said, “their speeches were very moving and passionate. As a Christian woman I was unsure of how I would feel about these two former terrorists. I didn’t know what they would say. I didn’t know what to expect. They surprised me. I feel sorrow for these decent men who had to grow up believing killing another person would get them to heaven.”

Eighteen-year-old Ryan Purmell had a different opinion.

“What they’re saying tells a story and gives a human light on terrorism but I don’t know if their speeches will actually stop anything from happening to the country. I get why they were terrorists or why there is terrorism but I’m just not sure it means anything.”

Shoebat and Saleem continue to tour the country in hopes of getting their message out to not only students but to U.S. citizens in general.

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8 Comments to Journey through terror
    • anonymousthis
    • That is, in fact, a blog. However, not that they cite sources for their quotes – that are not blogs.
      Anyone who believes this propaganda needs to think logically. The US has so many visa regulations and citizenship restrictions – how would they possibly allow two “ex-terrorists” to live here? That blog is bang on, the US has been well known to throw people into jail for terrorist related offenses without any significant proof. It is absolute BS. Maybe they are really former *gulp* Muslims, however if they were terrorists and ran away to the USA they wouldn’t be happily giving speeches across the country against Islam.
      I am proud of the open minded WMU community for bringing themselves together and not letting these two well paid frauds get the best of them.
      Also, the weak little organization that organized this event should feel shame on themselves for believing such unfounded nonsense, and trying to inflict this “Anti-Islam” crap on the youth of the University.
      Everyone has their beliefs and religions, and all religions have their extremists. I believe in the right to free speech. The way this event was advertised was inappropriate. The posters scared people. The posters had people concerned for their safety and well being. Way to play on peoples fears! (For you, anonymous: Not the sarcasm)

    • Mustafa
    • These two claim that they are reformed terrorists. But to me they are still terrorists, they try and instill fear of Muslims and terror into people. They said that terrorists hide behind a religion, but these two are hiding behind the American flag tricking people into thinking that patriotism is hating the Muslims.

    • jbrinkmeyer
    • That Western would give these guys a stage only goes to prove the old adage: “A sucker is born every minute.” That’s how these two phonies make their living – counting on the fact that there are enough suckers in America to keep them in business.

      Hate mongering phonies. Is there anything worse?

    • anonymousthis
    • WMUstudent:
      Effective? Toward what? There’s nothing they were effective with, aside from earning money and spreading hatred toward the religious beliefs of others.

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