Sunday, November 8, 2009

Yusuf Al Khattab, Terror Cheerleader

In general, I dislike dealing in gossip not only about my neighbours, but even about strangers, such as film stars. to this rule, there are exceptions. sometimes, it is interesting to travel to the point where personal psychology intersects with politics. The US government has done psychological studies of foreign adversaries such as Hitler, on whom the OSS did a secret study.

I have always been fascinated by converts, be they religious or political. I try to find the psychological common denominators that transcend doctrinal differences. As such, Yussuf al Khattab, who has coaxed a bit more fame from a jaded public has yet again grabbed my attention.

Khattab recently grabbed headlines by praising Malik Hasan, the man who is accused of the murderous attack at Fort Hood in which twelve people so far have been killed. Fox News reported on this as follows.

"Yousef al-Khattab, 41, a radical Muslim in the borough of Queens who runs, claims on the site that the soldiers massacred at the Texas base deserved to be massacred, and he insists the victims are in "eternal hellfire." As for the suspected gunman — Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan — Al-Khattab hails him as a hero.

"An officer and a gentleman was injured while partaking in a pre-emptive attack," al-Khattab wrote on the site. "Get well soon Major Nidal. We love you."

Khattab started out in a non observant Jewish home in New Jersey. some sort of campus outreach brought him closer to orthodox Judaism. he quickly gravitated towards Satmar chassidim, a group that tends to be insular, strict and an unlikely destination for returnees to Judaism. A friend of mine who was in Satmar sat in a Talmud class attended by al Khattab, who was then known as Yusuf Cohen. he described him as a guy who would interrogate the rabbi giving the class in an attempt to prove that he was not strict enough in his interpretation of Jewish law. The reputation Cohen al Khattab had was that of a man who called the shots in his family, a man who put his wife on a pedestal so she could scrub the ceiling.

In Judaism, Cohen liked the costumes, just like he does in Islam. He did not go for more modern Jewish music. In any community he settled in, he was always finding fault with other Jews for not being strict enough.

A lot of his biographies talk about working hard in Brooklyn to pay tuition for his kids. Eventually, he moved to Israel, switching his loyalty from Satmar to Sephardic chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. He lived in a "settlement" and had hped for some help in buying a house that never materialised. Eventually, he started corresponding with a sheikh in the United Arab Emirates, who eventually persuaded him to become a Muslim. Unlike New York, where you can be anything you want in a mixed neighborhood, when you are living in a solidly orthodox jewish neighbourhood, switching to Hamas doesn't quite cut it. Al Khattab had to move away with his prayer rug and his doormat of a wife, who quickly dropped her initial objections to his "religious awakening." How much financial help he got to relocate to East Jerusalem, then to go to Morocco, where his wife is from and then to New York is an interesting question. Being an incense saleseman and a pedicab driver seems a bit implausible as an explanation of how he succeeded in moving himself and his four (now five) children around. Neither his nor his wife's family is on friendly terms with him and his family. It is doubtful that he gets checks from mom and pop.

While in Israel, Al Khattab was loud in his self promotion. He alternated between loud diatribes against Israel and Jews on the one hand and boastful postings of how happy he and his family were as Muslims. He would regularly include family pictures of himself and his entire family. at one point, he announced that he had taken an additional wife from a Palestinian refugee camp. What happened to that marriage? Maybe Cindy Adams or the National Enquirer could enlighten us. For a long time, he dropped off the radar. Searching the net yielded nothing for a long time. When Al khattab surfaced again, it was in Morroco, minus wife #2. Why did he leave Israel? Khattab is brave with his mouth, stepping right up to the border of free speech and incitement. Did he leave Israel out of fear that America's free speech protections might be differently defined in Israel? What happened in Morocco? Al Khattab's politics put him at odds with about every Arab government in the Middle East. If he is perceived as being a threat to public order, he might find himself in a heap of trouble in Morocco, Saudi Arabia or any other place he might go, because according to him even the Saudi government is not truly Islamic.

Al Khattab's family blog is back up. Unfortunately it includes an obnoxious recording of an imam chanting. The only way you can turn it off is to x out the site. He boasts of yet another child and an eldest son who has memorised the entire Koran. His wife does the world a favour by covering her ample frame almost completely, although not as completely as his daughter, who leaves only her eyes showing.

What is odd about al Khattab is that he is almost totally useless in attracting Jews to Islam. If you are a Muslim who already despises Jews or a neo Nazi, he will valiate your opinions. He is not an Islamic scholar. He has not learned how to present his opinions in modulated tones. He tried booking a lecture tour where he would get an honorarium plus travel expenses for speaking at universities, but it was a total flop. His main value is as a freak show. If he had a bit of cunning he might actually be dangerous. Not only that, but he is, from the viewpoint of moderate Muslims giving other Muslims a bad name.

How is he supported? A Muslim education is not cheap these days. Neither is raising five kids and traveling back and forth between America and Morocco. How does he pay all those bills working as a pedicab driver? It's a great job if you don't want to have to account for your whereabouts. What does he do between fares?

Al Khattab is getting a lot of attention. His entire adult life has been spent staking out more extreme ideological territory and dressing the part. His son, who is 17 voices enthusiasm for his father's beliefs and the same sense of the outrageous. Will his children follow in his footsteps? We they stay on the right side of the law? Where is Yusuf al khattab headed next? Who is paying his expenses? He makes an interesting study, not in theology but in abnormal psychology. I am sure he is being watched.

P.S As of this writing, has been hacked. When you type in the url, it is quickly redirected to Digital gangster for life. Way to go hackers ! Sphere: Related Content

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