Inland leaders criticize message
REACTION: A priest and an American-Islamic relations advocate say the tape distorts the religion.
Tuesday, September 5, 2006
By JOHN WELSH and LAURA RICO
A videotaped message by a former Inland area man now working for al-Qaida urging Americans to convert to Islam was a cheap attempt to manipulate a legitimate political view in this country, an advocate for better American-Islamic relations said Saturday.
Suspected al-Qaida activist Adam Yehiye Gadahn, who was raised on a goat farm in Winchester, delivered a videotaped lecture on Islam and told American military members they are fighting President Bush's "crusades."
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, criticized the message and repeated the group's theme of rejecting violence and extremism.
"He fails to see or to realize that just because two-thirds of Americans disagree with the administration's war in Iraq, it does not mean at all that we would be appealed by al-Qaida's tactics and ideology," Ayloush said about Gadahn.
The almost hourlong video appeared on an Islamic militant Web site Saturday and included footage of al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.
Ayloush, a Corona resident who is familiar with Gadahn's past in the Inland Empire, said in a telephone interview that he watched some of the video clips Saturday. He touched on Gadahn's religious overtones.
"We reject for anyone to drive the name of our religion into their extremist ideology," Ayloush said. "We remind Mr. Gadahn, as well as Mr. Al-Zawahri, that the best way to invite people to Islam is by not practicing an extremist interpretation of it, but rather by leading by the example of the prophet.
"That example is one of tolerance and mercy to mankind," Ayloush said.
After celebrating Mass on Saturday night at St. Catherine of Alexandria, the Rev. Gene Sabio, a native of the Philippines, told a reporter that it is his understanding that terrorism and Islam are incompatible.
"There is Christian and Muslim dialogue going on in many countries," Sabio said outside the Riverside church. "There is Islamic and Christian dialogue in the Philippines. As far as I see it, Christianity and Islam are not against each other.
"Christianity, Islam and Judaism all have the same roots, going all the way back to Abraham," Sabio said. "People need to start talking to each other and see points where they agree, and respect differences."
It is the second time in less than two months that Gadahn has appeared in an al-Qaida video, but his family has said little to the media. They could not be reached for comment Saturday.
In July, Gadahn appeared in a five-minute al-Qaida video. Reached at his 40-acre Winchester farm after that video aired, Gadahn's father, Philip, declined to say much about his son.
"He detached from our family almost 10 years ago," Philip Gadahn said in the short July interview. "And we don't know anything about him now. We haven't heard anything."
Staff writer Imran Vittachi contributed to this report.
Reach John Welsh at 951-368-9474 or jwelsh@PE.com
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html