Sultan Mehmood Gujar was a solid supporter of Islamist militants fighting in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India and even donated money to them, until he attended an innovative 40-day lecture series by a moderate cleric aimed at countering violent extremism . . .
“I was shocked to discover that what the militants were doing was against Islam,” said Gujar, sitting on the floor at the madrasa in Okara city where the lectures were delivered. “Now I call them terrorists, not jihadis.” . . .
The U.S. has created a new unit in Pakistan that aims to leverage such grassroots efforts by working with local moderates to counter violent extremism — the first of its kind set up by an American embassy anywhere in the world, according to U.S. officials here. The existence of the unit has never before been reported . . .
The unit is just now ramping up operations, said officials. It was funded with an initial budget of $5 million that officials hope will grow. Officials declined to provide details on specific programs they are funding or plan to fund, for fear that publicly acknowledging U.S. involvement would discredit their partners.
That’s a major worry in this country where anti-American sentiment is rampant. Any cleric known to be taking U.S. help is likely to be shunned by many. There are other challenges as well. Many among clerics and the public who are considered moderates have mixed views — they often oppose the killing of innocent civilians in Pakistan, but support jihad against U.S. forces in Afghanistan or against neighboring India. Further complicating the situation is alleged Pakistani government support for some militant groups . . .
You just can't make this stuff up. The jihadists will gladly take our tax dollars to supposedly support efforts to combat terrorism, but they can't publicly admit they are taking American tax dollars because they would likely be killed by the terrorists they are trying to "re-educate". Sounds like a great plan. Not. This money will wind up being used for the exact opposite purpose for which it was given. These types of efforts almost always backfire on us. The U.S. has repeatedly flown drone aircraft into Pakistani airspace to carry out attacks which sometimes go awry and kill innocent civilians. Not surprisingly, the U.S. drone attacks aren't helping our popularity in that country. The pro-Taliban support against U.S. soldiers expressed by one of the clerics who welcomed a meeting with the U.S. ambassador says it all. “Afghanistan was invaded, and the Taliban are waging jihad to protect their homeland, their freedom and their rights, so I recognize that as jihad,” said Zafar.
Why don't we just get the hell out of these countries and stop meddling in their affairs? Islam is their religion by choice. It's been that way for thousands of years. We've given billions of dollars in foreign aid to Pakistan to help combat terrorism, only to learn that the country had been providing safe harbor to bin Laden for nearly a decade. No amount of money is going to change these people's views, particularly when they see Americans continuously sticking their nose into the internal affairs of their countries. If we're stupid enough to give them money we don't have to give away, then we shouldn't be at all surprised if it winds up being spent on future terrorist attacks against our soldiers and innocent Americans. What would we think if the Chinese government started pouring millions of dollars into Christian ministries inside the United States to coax ministers into helping convince their religious followers that communism was really okay? Think about it.
Hat tip to Debbie Schlussel.
UPDATE: The ACLU has released its annual report card grading elected officials on protecting civil liberties. Obama received a lower rating than Ron Paul. In fact, it gave Obama a failing grade. From the ACLU's blog:
Our experts found that Republicans Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman earned solid scores, with four, three and two torches across most major categories, although both received one torch on marriage equality and none on reproductive rights.
President Obama also achieved solid scores or better across most categories, including four torches for ending the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. However, he received just one torch and none for keeping Guantanamo Bay open and continuing unconstitutional surveillance under the PATRIOT act, respectively.
Republican-turned-Libertarian Gary Johnson scored even better than Paul, Huntsman and Obama, earning four and three torches on most major issues. They stand in stark contrast to the other major GOP candidates, three of whom -- Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum -- didn’t earn a single torch in any of the seven major categories.
Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich received torches in only one category: two torches each for promoting a humane immigration policy, including their support for a path to legal status for some long-term residents.
Ultimately, the good news from the report card is that genuine support for our constitutional values and freedoms has no partisan boundaries. Indeed, Ron Paul’s recent surge in Iowa has been attributed to his adherence to the Constitution and civil liberties.