The association with Islam and terrorism is so complete that every article discussing yesterday’s arrest of seven men in Miami for plotting to blow up the Sears Tower – the tallest building in America and designed by prominent Muslim American engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan – is soaked in Islamic terminology, even though there were no actual al-Qaida operatives or Muslim Americans involved. The odd circumstances around the event include a cult-like group named the “Seas of David”, which has 40 to 50 members who call themselves “soldiers of God” (but mostly resemble “Kramer” jihadists). They passed their time selling African-American hair care products and, in the words of a group member, “train through the Bible… not only physical but mentally”. The cell attempted to contact al-Qaida in order to secure support for their plans, which attracted the attention of the FBI, who supplied a fake al-Qaida operative. Like the 2003 sting operation that foiled an attempt to peddle Stinger missiles to terrorists (another example of a terrorist plot free of actual Muslim involvement), the FBI informant supplied military boots per request of the “Seas of David” and took notes on the unfolding plan, which was falling apart even as the seven men were arrested. Unlike the arrests in Toronto last month, this is a group more Christian in practice than Muslim, consisting of names that would never come up on a “no-fly” list: Narseal Batiste, Burson Augustin, Patrick Abraham (“Brother Pat”), Stanley Grant Phanor (“Brother Sunni”) Naudimar Herrera (“Brother Naudy”), Lyglenson Lemorin (“Brother Levi-El”), and Rotschild Augustine (“Brother Rot”). “Nothing in the four corners of the indictment,” opines legal commentator Andrew Cohen, “convinces me that these guys were legitimate terrorist wannabes as opposed to a bunch of angry bozos looking lazily for al-Qaeda to hook them up with all sorts of goodies.” So when the dust settles, all there will be is an angry Bible study group that tried in vain to contact al-Qaida, with the goal of destroying one of the greatest gifts Muslim Americans have given to the US – not exactly the “terror cell” story Americans have come to expect.
Shahed Amanullah is editor-in-chief of altmuslim.com.