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Walid Shoebat: Ex-PLO Terrorist, Muslim Apostate, Evangelical Convert, Arab Zionist…and Now, Charlatan

Thanks to Jerry Haber for bringing this article to my attention. Whenever I read such a story it brings to mind Robert Duvall’s gung ho U.S. cavalry officer in Apocalypse Now: “Oh how I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Except in this case, the “napalm” is the smell of Walid Shoebat’s lies going up in smoke.

Shoebat is the darling of the neo-con, Israel First, Christian Zionist set who has claimed for years that he was a “PLO terrorist,” who converted from Islam to evangelical Christianity, and travels the world singing the praise of Israel’s maximalist claims to Judea and Samaria. He also denounces the Palestinians as terror-mad and Islam as a religion of violence and vengeance. He speaks to campus Hillels and any Jewish audience that will have him.

Now, the Jerusalem Post (yes, really the Jpost!) has blown the lid off Walid Shoebat or whoever he is:

Shoebat’s Web site says his is an assumed name, used to protect him from reprisal attacks by his former terror chiefs, whom he says have put a $10 million price on his head.

Shoebat is sometimes paid for his appearances, and he also solicits donations to a Walid Shoebat Foundation to help fund this work and to “fight for the Jewish people.”

The BBC, Fox News and CNN have all presented Shoebat as a terrorist turned peacemaker, interviewing him as someone uniquely capable of providing insight into the terrorist mindset.

Now he and two other former extremists are set to appear along with US Senator Joe Lieberman, Ambassador to the US Sallai Meridor and other notables at an annual “Christians United For Israel” conference in Washington in July.

The three “ex-terrorists” have appeared…most recently, at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, in February, at a conference whose findings, the organizers said, would be circulated at the Pentagon and among members of Congress and other influential figures.

Last year, Shoebat spoke to the BattleCry Christian gathering in San Francisco, which drew a reported 22,000 evangelical teenagers to what the San Francisco Chronicle described as “a mix of pep rally, rock concert and church service.”

The paper described Shoebat as a self-proclaimed “former Islamic terrorist” who said that Islam was a “satanic cult” and who told the crowd how he eventually accepted Jesus into his heart.

However, Shoebat’s claim to have bombed Bank Leumi in Bethlehem is rejected by members of his family who still live in the area, and Bank Leumi says it has no record of such an attack ever taking place.

His relatives, members of the Shoebat family, are mystified by the notion of “Walid Shoebat” being an assumed name. And the Walid Shoebat Foundation’s working process is less than transparent, with Shoebat’s claim that it is registered as a charity in the state of Pennsylvania being denied by the Pennsylvania State Attorney’s Office.

Shoebat’s claim to have been a terrorist rests on his account of the purported bombing of Bank Leumi. But after checking its files, the bank said it had no record of an attack on its Bethlehem branch anywhere in the relevant 1977-79 period.

Shoebat told The Jerusalem Post that this could be because the bank building was robustly protected with steel and that the attack may have caused little damage.

Asked whether word of the bombing made the news at the time, he said, “I don’t know. I didn’t read the papers because I was in hiding for the next three days.” (In 2004, he had told Britain’s Sunday Telegraph: “I was terribly relieved when I heard on the news later that evening that no one had been hurt or killed by my bomb.”)

Shoebat could not immediately recall the year, or even the time of year, of the purported bombing when talking to the Post by phone from the US. After wavering, he finally settled for the summer of 1977.

The Sunday Telegraph described Shoebat as a man who “for much of his life… was eager to commit acts of terrorism for the sake of his soul and the Palestinian cause.”

In that interview he described how he and his peers were indoctrinated as children “to believe that the fires of hell were an ever-present reality. We were all terrified of burning in hell when we died… The teachers told us that the only way we could certainly avoid that fate was to die in a martyrdom operation – to die for Islam.”

But an uncle and a cousin of Shoebat, who still live in Beit Sahur in the Bethlehem area, where Shoebat grew up, said that Shoebat’s education was rather mild ideologically, and that religion did not play a dominant role.

The uncle, interviewed at his home, said he remembered little about his nephew, because Walid left for America at the age of 16, and because his American mother always kept a distance from the rest of the family. The uncle and his wife both said firmly that there was no attack on Bank Leumi.

When questioned on this discrepancy, Shoebat was adamant that he did carry out such a bombing, and that his relatives deny it to cover up for another cousin who was with him during the attack and still lives in Bethlehem.

Shoebat evinced no particular surprise that his family could be tracked down simply by asking Beit Sahur locals where they lived, even though his Internet site claims that his is an assumed name.

What’s especially ironic about this is that most con men conceal their identity and change their name to hide their tracks. In this case, Shoebat claimed his name was fake when it was genuine, a total reversal of the pattern. But almost everything else about him appears to be made up.

Yet another right-wing pro-Israel fantasist seeking grandeur on behalf of his cause. What is sad about this is that pro-Israel nationalists are so eager to find friends wherever they can that they don’t bother to test the credibility or moral code of those with whom they jump into bed. John Hagee is but another example of this problem though one can’t accuse him of fictionalizing his background.

I should add to the passage about their appearance at the Air Force Academy. Their talk was billed as being about Islamic terror when in reality they were there to advance their mission of evangelizing to the unconverted. The Academy has been in tremendous hot water over the past year or so for having chaplains who nakedly promoting conversion of non-evangelical cadets against the institution’s regulations. Several Congressional members have been livid about this. So it seems that in this appearance both Shoebat AND his Air Force hosts were concealing their ulterior motives in bringing them there.

This begs another question: can Joe Lieberman continue with plans to appear with these three fraudsters? If he does, will anyone call him and them on the charade they’ll be perpetrating on the Jewish community?

Here’s more on their ongoing fraud:

A New York Times report last month on the Air Force Academy event, headlined “Speakers at Academy Said to Make False Claims,” noted that “Academic professors and others who have heard the three men speak in the United States and Canada said some of their stories border on the fantastic, like Mr. Saleem’s account of how, as a child, he infiltrated Israel to plant bombs via a network of tunnels underneath the Golan Heights. No such incidents have been reported, the academic experts said. They also question how three middle-aged men who claim they were recruited as teenagers or younger could have been steeped in the violent religious ideology that only became prevalent in the late 1980s.”

The Times quoted Prof. Douglas Howard, who teaches the history of the modern Middle East at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as saying after he heard Saleem speak last November at the college that he thought the three were connected to several major Christian evangelical organizations.

“It was just an old time gospel hour: ‘Jesus can change your life, he changed mine,’” Howard said.

The professor told the Times that his doubts about the authenticity of the three grew after he heard stories like that of the Golan Heights tunnels, “as well as something on Mr. Saleem’s Web site along the lines that he was descended from the grand wazir of Islam. The grand wazir of Islam is a nonsensical term.”

The newspaper said Arab-American civil rights organizations have questioned “why, at a time when the United States government has vigorously moved to jail or at least deport anyone with a known terrorist connection, the three men, if they are telling the truth, are allowed to circulate freely.”

And there’s more about Shoebat’s financial fraud:

Visitors to Shoebat’s Internet site are encouraged to make a donation to his foundation to enable him to disseminate his message. However, a notice on the page states that for “security reasons,” the money will not be debited to his foundation, but rather to a company called Top Executive Media. The name Top Executive Media is used by a greetings card firm from Pennsylvania called Top Executive Greetings, a company with an annual turnover of $500,000. When one makes a donation through the Shoebat Internet site, the Web address changes to topexecutivegreetings.com/shoebat.

This seems to be the only active page for the company; its homepage is blank.

Asked by the Post whether the Walid Shoebat Foundation is a registered charity, Shoebat replied that it is registered in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania State Attorney’s office said it had no record of a charity registered under this name.

Questioned further, Shoebat said it was registered under a different name, but that he was not aware of the details, which are handled by his manager.

“I remain separate to the running of the charity so that I am not constrained by church rules,” he explained, adding that the organization’s connection to certain churches meant it would be difficult for him to speak to secular audiences if he became too involved in running it.

Dr. Joel Fishman, of the Allegheny County Law Library in Pennsylvania, expressed doubts about this donation process. If the money were being given to a registered charity, the charity would have to make annual reports to the state and federal government on how it was being spent, he noted.

Shoebat insisted donations were not being misused, however. “I survive by being an author,” he said. “I only get paid for being an author. All the money that is donated gets put back into events.”

If the Bank Leumi bombing claim is unfounded, it is unclear why Shoebat would have wanted to manufacture a terrorist past. True or not, however, it has plainly brought him some prominence and provided him with a means to speak in favor of Israel and be paid for doing so.

In that final paragraph, the reporter makes clear why the reluctant Muslim would have wanted to manufacture a terrorist past: it has brought him a following and financial rewards. And all built on a pro-Israel house of cards.

Shoebat’s manager mentioned above is Keith Davies, who has commented angrily here about my previous “outing” of Shoebat. The question yet to be answered is who is behind Top Executive Media. It seems clear that it is either Christian evangelicals like Hagee or possibly pro-Israel extremists like an Irving Moskowitz. I am sure they’re tried to cover their tracks pretty well. But I hope a good investigative journalist can follow up on this and uncover more.

I have written regularly about Shoebat and other so-called “Good Arab” friends of Israel like Tawfiq Hamid and Amir Taheri and accused them of being at the least intellectual frauds if not real, genuine frauds. But I never had specific evidence until now of the genuine nature of Shoebat’s fraud. The ardent pro-Israel set should’ve realized that if these guys seem too good to be true, it’s because they are. If I smelled a rat why didn’t they?

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{ 23 comments… add one }

  • Matt Duss April 10, 2008, 7:18 PM

    Great post! (Though you mixed up DeNiro and Duvall at the beginning.)

  • orgo April 10, 2008, 8:32 PM
  • bar_kochba132 April 10, 2008, 8:48 PM

    Amir Taheri is an Iranian, not Arab.  So I guess anyone who opposes the Islmamic regime there is is also a pro-Israel wingnut apostate Muslim?

  • Richard Silverstein April 11, 2008, 12:00 AM

    “you mixed up DeNiro and Duvall…”

    Omigod, of course I did.  Sometimes you write these things almost on auto-pilot which is how lapses like that happen esp. when you also taking care of 3 yr old twins at the same time!

  • Richard Silverstein April 11, 2008, 12:03 AM

    “anyone who opposes the Islmamic regime there is is also a pro-Israel wingnut apostate Muslim?”

    Taheri is a fraud not because he opposes the Islamic regime in Iran, but because he fabricates his stories.  The fake “yellow star” claim, which I posted about here, is but one example.

  • Jay April 11, 2008, 12:35 AM

    Your case and the abysmal report by JPost about him are totally flawed. Using his relatives as witnesses is totally biased. If you had waited perhaps to read his rebuttal to the JPost article
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1207649974071&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
    perhaps you may not have been so harsh on him.
     
    Also the claim that Leumi has no account of any attack like Walid claims, makes perfect sense. Very few attacks, where no one had been injured, got reported, especially back then. Plus Leumi doesnt want to scare away its present customers or draw negative media attention.
    Despite all this, are you trying to tell people that this mans accounts of life in Palastine is false? What is your definition of a terrorist? Im sure, back then, he would come under that category.
    What is you motive to discrediting him as a fraud when obviously he is the real deal? Your intentions are very transparent but i think more research is needed before accusation are thrown.

  • Andy April 11, 2008, 9:43 AM

    Shoebat reminds me of Ahmed Chalabi, the con-man whom the neo-cons wanted to put in charge in Iraq. Both Shoebat and Chalabi seem(ed) to think, “The Americans always say ‘yes’ to Israel and don’t know anything about the Arab/Muslim world, so I can say anything I want to them.” (I’m simplifying, but you know what I mean.) It’s good to see the truth – if slowly, but better late than never – catch up with these guys.

  • Violet April 12, 2008, 6:54 PM

    Jay, obviously from reading up on Walid Shoebat, he is a fraud, apart from being someone who has the big Hate going for Muslims. I know that no amount of facts are going to convince the True Believers, but his ‘rebuttal’ came across as someone who’s been busted in their lies trying to dig themselves out of the hole and not doing a very good job of it…

    It’s completely ludicrous to claim that a bank wouldn’t have records of bombings carried out on it, even if the news never hit the media. This supposed attack was in the 1970′s? Coming from a family of bankers, I can assure you that even if attempted security breaches weren’t reported in the media, the banks sure kept records of them. Security’s a big deal for banks and any attempt to breach security, regardless of if there are injuries or deaths involved, got treated as seriously back then as they do now. So if the bank has no records of this ‘bombing’ then it’s a safe bet it never happened. As for yr claim about scaring away present customers, that’s totally nonsensical. Customers don’t give a toss about what happened decades before, especially when the supposed incident was supposedly foiled by the banks security. If it had happened, the bank would more likely be bragging about it…

    I like how you label his family as being biased. Let’s compare him to his family and see who’s got more incentive to be biased. On one hand we’ve got people who don’t gain financially out of what they say and have no agenda other than saying what their recollections were. On the other, we’ve got Walid Shoebat (hold on, should we use what he said was his assumed name ‘Walid Shoebat’, or his real name ‘Walid Shoebat’?), who gets a hell of a lot of money by pandering to the extremist types in the US who hate Muslims and think any criticism of the Israeli govt is ‘Jew-hatred’, and who has been publicly outed as a bit of a bulls**t artist. I know which of them has more to gain by lying and it’s not his family…

  • Jay April 13, 2008, 5:12 AM

    Violet, you claim its obvious that Walid is a fraud, yet dont explain what the proof is. What made you come to this conclusion in his rebuttal?
    What is obvious though, is your ignorance to the governmental structure of Israel in the 70′s and probably also at present. Alot of things, especially in the banking system, were and still are not reported or kept secret. You are naive to think otherwise.
    Regarding his family being biased, they have no choice. If they didnt publicly condemn Walid, then they would be targeted as Israeli sympathizers and more than likely killed.
    Im not saying that Walids accounts are 100%, as some people could exaggerate to make money, but i do believe through my own knowledge of living in the vicinity, that his accounts are very accurate and exactly what is still happening to this day in Gazza and the West Bank. You cant deny that, and again, would be naive to think otherwise.

  • Solomon123 April 13, 2008, 10:35 PM

    Walid’s handler/manager is the one who handles the $$ and would even know what a charity is. He owns Top Executive Greetings which owns the Media probably or obviously. Walid is likely clueless as to the exact handling of the money or whether or not they’re really an official charity or not.
    And registering as a charity or a 501c is not hard to accomplish by the way - and is a HUGE Advantage not disadvantage to any organization.

    So asking why it’s not a charity as a mark against them is counter intuitive.
    Just askAl Sharpton about the advantages of getting registered as a 501c.
    It is the most gigantic lupole in the tax law going. And other Arab American speakers similar to Walid have gotten registered as a 501c. These org’s pay 0 taxes.

    Regarding – His family has no motive?
    They ex-communicated him from the family years ago for -
    a) Leaving Islam and becoming an apostate
    b) Not only leaving but converting and preaching Christianity
    c) Speaking out for Israel and its existence
    d) Speaking out against things in the Palestinian and Arab world

    Wait? Ya think his family would be completely truthful in anything they’d have to say about him with no axe to GRIND???

    Silverstein takes pop shots at the ever present shadowy Israel first extremists for utilizing this apparent fraud to support their case and viewpoint while giving himself a pat on the back for being the sleuth he is. Stating - 

    I suspected it (that Walid is a fraud)  long ago so wonder why the Israeli first extremists didn’t…..

    However, to support his case  -
    He then extensively quotes Walid’s unbiased family members’ statements as evidence of his sleuthiness.

    So he’s doing the very same thing he slapped around the Israel first extremists for doing? using apparent frauds or people with questionable motivations to to support his case?

    Note - Shoebat regularly talks about how he has long ago been estranged and cut off from his family… no rocket scientist sleuthiness necessary to know that.
    You’d have to wonder how Richard Silverstein missed that part?

    Further -
    The fact that his family is speaking out against him is now suddenly big news?
    Yet anyone with any background knowledge here knows this is old old old news. His family has been speaking out against him and estranged from him for yearssssss.

    Didn’t Mr. Silverstein state that he extensively studied and wrote about Walid Shoebat? Thus, wouldn’t he know him and his family have been long ago estranged and his family members quotes against him are a) not new news & b) words of extremly biased parties with a huge axe to grind?
    So is he -

    a) being deceptive?
    b) a sloppy journalist or sleuth?
    c) Moshiach came to him and told him the family are in this case suddently being completely forhright and while Walid is being completely deceptive?

  • Richard Silverstein April 13, 2008, 11:32 PM

    @ Jay:

    yet dont explain what the proof is

    The proof is in the Haaretz article. Only those who’ve drunk the Islamophobic Kool Aid refuse to believe it. Your man is a fake & a hack.

    your ignorance to the governmental structure of Israel in the 70’s

    And you’re such an expert on this subject and on security matters related to the Israeli banking system how precisely??

    Oh puhleeze. If you think the Palestinians give a rat’s ass about Walid Shoebat you’re crazy. The only people who still care about the creep are the evangelicals & extreme pro-Isrsael crowd.

    i do believe through my own knowledge of living in the vicinity

    What does this mean? That you live in Gaza or the West Bank? Because that would give you some authority. If you don’t & live instead in an Israeli settlement or on the border near the Territories that would give you precisely zero credibility in knowing how things work in Palestine.

    @Solomon123:

    Walid is likely clueless as to the exact handling of the money or whether or not they’re really an official charity or not.

    He’s responsible for his own finances. You’re just making excuses for him.

    They ex-communicated him from the family years ago

    You didn’t bother to read the Haaretz article which said that Walid’s own mother refused to mingle with his family & then took him away to America at age 16. His family didn’t ex-communicate him. On the contrary, his own mother excommunicated herself fr. his family BEFORE he became the world’s leading Arab pro-Israel apologist.

  • Jay April 14, 2008, 1:23 AM

    And what about his family having no choice but to disassociate themselves with Walid. You know very well if they ever had supported him, they would be killed as Israeli  sympathizers.  That proved the witnesses are biased.
    By the way, i live 4 kms from the border on a moshav, not a settlement as you gleefully suggested. I have travelled through and know the people of these areas so obviously have a bit more knowledge than you on these matters. The problem with left minded people like you is that you have no idea of the Arab mindset and the determination that these people have in destroying Israel. They think if they can do this, the rest of the world will easily be forced into islamization, and they are probablly right seeing as Israel is the birthplace of the 2 major religions.
    like you Silverman, only help them in destroying Israel. You have no justification.

  • Richard Silverstein April 14, 2008, 1:44 AM

    i live 4 kms from the border on a moshav, not a settlement as you gleefully suggested. I have travelled through and know the people of these areas so obviously have a bit more knowledge than you on these matters.

    You know Palestinians? What do you know about Palestinians?? Gimme a break. Your views as expressed here show the only thing you know is a hard-right Islamophobic perspective on these issues. The idea that you have more knowledge than I about “matters” concerning Palestinians is laughable.

  • Jay April 14, 2008, 1:18 PM

    I obviously know more about Palastine, otherwise you would admit that there is really no Palastinian people. Even their own leaders admit that, but you wont!
    I am not religious and have Muslim friends that i work everyday with, so i am far from islamophobic or hard right. I am all for muslims living here if they respects Israels history and right to exist. The problem is that they are few in numbers and majority want to see Israel destroyed while enjoying the benefits Israel offers.
    One more question you probably wont be able to answer.
    How do you Mr Silverman Justify the Palastinian Charter?

  • Richard Silverstein April 14, 2008, 3:43 PM

    I obviously know more about Palastine [sic], otherwise you would admit that there is really no Palastinian [sic] people. Even their own leaders admit that, but you wont!

    You know so much about Palestine that you don’t even know how to spell the word. Sometimes commenters publish here who are so far out in right field they’re almost beyond our own solar system. By what standard or measure can anyone claim that Palestinians themselves admit that there is no Palestinian people??? And as you’ve just violated 1 of my cardinal comment rules (see sidebar link), you’ve just been provided with an all-expenses paid vacation from this blog. You are all in favor of Muslim’s living in Israel as long as they respect Israel’s right to exist while you deny the existence of a Palestinian people. That is exceedingly reasonable on yr part.

    • tom August 31, 2010, 1:55 PM

      [comment deleted for violation of comment rules]

  • Violet April 15, 2008, 4:10 AM

    Jay: ‘The problem with left minded people like you is that you have no idea of the Arab mindset and the determination that these people have in destroying Israel. ‘

    More Jay: ‘I obviously know more about Palastine, otherwise you would admit that there is really no Palastinian people. ‘

    After reading that nonsense, it’s easy to see why Jay has a bit of a hero-worship thing going for Shoebat :)

  • Solomon123 April 15, 2008, 3:30 PM

    You didn’t bother to read the Haaretz article which said that Walid’s own mother refused to mingle with his family & then took him away to America at age 16. His family didn’t ex-communicate him. On the contrary, his own mother excommunicated herself fr. his family BEFORE he became the world’s leading Arab pro-Israel apologist.

    He has said his mom didn’t like the way the family was treating her and eventually wanted to escape the treatment of her as a Muslim wife. She took Walid to California with her. Once in CA he joined org’s radically supportive of the Palestinians and still held the same views he grew up with. He said his new wife is the one that converted him to Xtianity. Now if you believe that his family cut him off simply bcs his mom took him to the US versus him converting to Xtianity and speaking out for Israel…. then you would be drinking some Kool Aid there.

  • Solomon123 April 15, 2008, 3:33 PM

    The blockquote command didn’t take above. And Walid’s mom was an American who married a Palestinian Muslim and then moved there… I didn’t add that.

  • Rod April 16, 2008, 10:14 AM

    “When questioned on this discrepancy, Shoebat was adamant that he did carry out such a bombing, and that his relatives deny it to cover up for another cousin who was with him during the attack and still lives in Bethlehem.”

    Funny really the only thing biblical there seems to be about Mr Shoebat … ak.a. errmm Mr Shoebat ? is the fact that his lies and contradictory statements are of biblical proportions..

    “He uses the term “terrorist” somewhat metaphorically, in that he was intending to carry out a terrorist operation but never did.

    Therefore, there is no need to arrest him.”

    http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/66681

  • Imran malik June 7, 2010, 12:06 PM

    This shoebat fella is an idiot simple as he talks shit. He claims that he was a terrorist but he had a change of heart, so now he gets free reign to walk around the usa spouting utter bullshit! But the yanks extradite brittish Muslims and take them to guantanimo and hold them captive for years on some saposed intel, but answer me this did these guys kill anyone, NO, did they plot, maybe. So these people have done excatly what mr wally shoebat has done except convert to Christianity, so is it not fair that they should be allowed to walk free like this stupid mug. I’m English and I’m Muslim but not at all strict I drink smoke have sex before marrige all my friends are White as we’ve grown up with each other.But I believe in Allah but still have respects for other faiths as we all want to live in a world without war, without poverty without illness where children of all creed and colour and faith can stand side by side without being judged. So these idiots who spread lies and brainwash the youth are the evil ones.!!! Peace

    • For truth February 14, 2011, 7:18 AM

      You are not really a Muslim and do not even try to pretend you are. You are a luke-warm convert looking for something to grasp onto. You have absolutely no insight into the Koran, if that is the way you believe.

  • True Muslim January 15, 2011, 5:12 AM

    Yet the stupids take all the rubbish he utters to be revealed word of God.

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