Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver.

Courtesy photo

Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver.

Middle East expert talks 'ISIS crisis' and Orlando massacre

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— An expert on the Middle East visited Steamboat Springs on Tuesday to tackle issues related to the “ISIS crisis” and its connection to Sunday morning’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.

Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver and an author, cautioned listeners at Library Hall not to make generalizations about the Islam religion based on the radical actions of someone such as Omar Mateen.

Mateen was identified Sunday as the gunman who killed 49 people and wounded dozens more during a mass shooting at a Florida gay bar.

Mateen reportedly pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — ISIL — during a 911 call and prior to being killed in a shootout with authorities.

“We are going through a very difficult and challenging moment today, and all of the nation’s attention — in fact the world’s attention — is on what happened in Orlando,” Hashemi said. “What happened in Orlando, unfortunately, is not going to be the last mass shooting of this nature that our country will be facing.”

The majority of ISIS-related attacks in the United States are carried out by people who are converts from Christianity or other religions, not Islam, Hashemi said.

“The 1,400-year-old Islamic faith in itself has little to do with the modern jihadist movement,” he said. “Religious scripture by itself is not what motivated most of these fanatics.”

Hashemi reviewed what has been learned about Mateen since the shooting, including that he regularly attended a mosque, consumed a large amount of ISIS propaganda in the days and weeks leading up to the shooting and that he first raised the suspicion of authorities after claiming to know the men responsible for the 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon.

Mateen also claimed to support both al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, two rival groups.

“It suggests a lot of confusion on the mind of this individual,” Hashemi said.

Hashemi said Mateen and many people responsible for mass acts of radical violence, share many similar qualities, namely mental health issues.

“(Mateen) was a deeply, mentally ill individual — a ticking time bomb that was ready to explode," Hashemi said. "That ticking time bomb exploded . . . taking 49 innocent lives with him.”

Hashemi explained that one puritanical, politically-charged interpretation of Sunni Islam, known as Wahhabism, can be used by radicals to justify their acts.

“I think we will learn a lot more as the investigation unfolds,” Hashemi said. “This question of ISIS, its influence, its impact on radicalizing young people — it’s not going to go away anytime soon.”

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

Comments

Matt Charity 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Speaking about the roots of Jihadism isn’t a sign of ‘hatred’ or a generalization of Muslims. It is the only way to support Muslim secularists. The Orlando killer, his own inner struggle, what were the beliefs that produced such behavior? No doctrine is more violent to the gay community than Islamic doctrine. As good a time as any to take on Muslim homophobia. However, we live in a world where criticism of Muslim homophobia is Islamophobia- Sharia and Jihad are real words! Homosexuality is punishable by death under Sharia Law. Classical sharia systems in 10 countries, punish homosexuality. Being politically incorrect isn’t the same as being informed.

Speak honestly about the true cause of this savagery, or risk letting ISIS pick the next US President!

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Brian Kotowski 9 months, 1 week ago

There are 10 countries where homosexuality is a capital offense. Care to find the common thread? Hint: it's not the crucifixion. Actually, we shouldn't mention any possible religious components. That would be bigoted.

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Roy Powell 9 months, 2 weeks ago

This is the kind of media discussion that is miss-informing the public. The "middle east expert" has no illusion that this horrific act had Islamic motivations, yet presents it as a question. However there is apparently no question that Mateem was mentally ill. So he's a Psychiatrist too? The "Islamic faith in itself has little to do with the modern jihadist movement". Say what? The religious scriptures are exactly what motivated these jahadis to kill. The Quran, the Hadith and its apaclyptic teachings are deadly -- to non-believers! Few people even know what "Wahhabism" is, as if, what, it is the main culprit. One thing is for sure, "radicalizing young people will not go away soon," especially with articles like this that miss-inform.

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Scott Wedel 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Do we say Dylan Roof, the Charleston killer, was acting as a Christian? White Nationalism claims to be based upon the Bible.

If people viewed Christianity based upon White Nationalists propaganda then Christianity would also be viewed as a major problem.

Nearly all hate groups use religious justifications as them being pure and the rest of society being corrupt needing to be cleansed.

There is video of some "Christian minister" at a pulpit saying 49 gays got what they deserved.

The problem is not the Quran any more than it is the Bible, but those hate sects that use religion to justify killing others.

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Matt Charity 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Not all religions have remained equally violent. Read up on Wahhabism to understand how Islam regressed.

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Brian Kotowski 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Mr. Hashemi's attempt to isolate what he refers to as “the modern Jidadist movement” seems disingenuous to me.

“The 1,400-year-old Islamic faith in itself has little to do with the modern jihadist movement,” he said. “Religious scripture by itself is not what motivated most of these fanatics.”

I'd like to know how he arrived at that conclusion. I'm also less inclined to call them fanatics, and more likely to identify them as adherent to a time-honored contingent of their faith.

When Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were dispatched to London in 1786 to determine why our maritime civilians in the Mediterranean were being murdered and enslaved, they learned it was not the result of a “confusion of the mind” of the sort that Mr. Hashemi has assigned to Omar Mateen (has Mr. Hashemi reviewed a psychological profile of Mateen? Did he counsel Mateen while he was alive? Inquiring minds want to know).

Adams and Jefferson were received by the envoy from Tripoli, Sidi Haji Abdrahaman. He told them (as reported by Jefferson to Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay), “All nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. ” Sound familiar?

Jefferson records in his personal journal how stunned he was at how matter-of-fact Abdrahaman was; as if he was noting the color of the sky.

Islam is not just a religion. Alone among the major faiths, it is a political movement. Its followers have been trying to implement the same theocratic policies for more than a millennium.

Orlando, San Bernadino, Paris, Chattanooga, Charlie Hebdo, Fort Hood, 9/11, etc., I am unconvinced that these are the perversions of a peaceful worldview. They are in lockstep with the precepts explicitly spelled out in the sura and the hadiths, as delivered by Allah’s Messenger to the Whole Mankind, the Prophet Muhammed (Propeller Beanie Upon Him). The prophet’s choir continues to sing from the same hymnal it has been using for 1,400 years.

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Eric Morris 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Here's what he said, per a witness:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/14/omar-mateen-told-victims-his-attack-was-retaliation-for-america/

Maybe, just maybe, we would be better off if the US government stopped bombing these countries. Not saying this was his only motivation, but it may have been enough to put him over the edge.

1

Brian Kotowski 9 months, 2 weeks ago

To those who assign a moral equivalence (or similar tendencies to fanatic bloodshed & oppression) to present-day Islam and contemporary Christianity, in which of the following cities will a gay couple be safest holding hands in public, and why?

Mecca

Vatican City

Islamabad

Tel Aviv

Kabul

London

Tehran

Dublin

Baghdad

Denver

Islamabad

Vienna

Riyadh

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Eric Morris 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Brian, I'm not assigning moral equivalence, but talking about things over which I have at least minuscule amounts of control. It looks like life for gays in Iraq was better before the US invaded, and it certainly was for my fellow Catholics. In addition, I'd rather be gay in Cancun versus Orlando, where you are less likely to have a self-loathing gay twist that internal struggle outward into the murderous lashing out against that government's foreign policy in your family's ancestral homeland. My two cents.

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Brian Kotowski 9 months, 2 weeks ago

72 hours after the obscenity in Orlando, you & Mr. Hashemi seem to have marshaled a great deal of certainty about the terrorist's psyche and motivations.

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Eric Morris 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm at least basing it on a 911 call and the statement of a witness. I'm not sure what drives people to mass murder, but a starting point is taking them at their word. Two choices on the bigger issue of ISIS: total war/clash of civilizations or a significantly reduced American military presence in the Muslim world. I take the latter and see how that works.

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Brian Kotowski 9 months, 1 week ago

Total war & clash of civilizations. Check. That was also the case in 732, when Charles Martel found himself fending off a Muslim invasion at the Battle of Tours. Curiously, the American military presence in the Muslim world wasn't a factor.

Nor in 1483 when the Ottoman empire bulldozed Constantinople and renamed it Istanbul. Or in 1571 when the Venetian fleet was obliged to confront a Muslim invasion off the coast of Greece at the Battle of Lepanto. Or 1683 when the Germans and Austrians staved of conquest at the gates of Vienna.

Or, as Jefferson and Adams learned in 1786, a total war/clash of civilizations that ultimately gave rise to America's first foreign war: The Barbary War(s). American military presence in the Muslim world had nothing to do with it then, and has nothing to do with it now – except to the extent that it can be used to gin up support for what the Islamists have always wanted: to conquer and subjugate all those who do not acknowledge the Prophet Muhammad (Propeller Beanie Upon Him).

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Eric Morris 9 months, 1 week ago

Barry, do I need to pay taxes to be shoved by the barrelful onto Tel Aviv so gay Muslims there can hold hands and vote? All I know is the aid to Israel costs me money and cost lives on 9/11, as Osama stated that was one of the three reasons he attacked the US. I believe trade and intercourse is the best way to a more peaceful world, but despite that I did consciously not purchase a bottle of appealing Israeli wine at Costco the other day because I think the BDS movement may be the only way to send the message that blind support for Israel undermines my own safety here in America.

1

Eric Morris 9 months, 1 week ago

Netanyahu, the actual President of the US, or at least the governor of the 51st state, did a good job of dropping down the memory hole the actual words of the killer: I am killing them because they bomb my home.

1

Brian Kotowski 9 months, 1 week ago

He was US citizen born in NYC. Presumably, you're talking about Afghanistan from whence his parents hail. My maternal ancestry is Japanese. If I go off the rails and slaughter 50 people while screaming "remember Hiroshima!" will you offer a similar platitude on my behalf?

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Brian Kotowski 9 months, 1 week ago

Thanks for the heads up on the wine. I'll be sure to keep my eyes peeled next time I'm at Costco.

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Eric Morris 9 months, 1 week ago

The last refuge of scoundrels: calling someone who is not anti-Semitic anti-Semitic. Israel has every right to defend itself, and it has shown itself more than capable on many occasions. In fact, it is so capable, that it doesn't need anymore of our tax dollars. If facts change after they get off the dole, then reasonable people can debate appropriate help or aid. You, instead, call me a Jew hater, proving you are not reasonable on the subject. I guess you might be the self-loathing Jew who thinks Jews are incapable of defending themselves.

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Eric Morris 9 months, 1 week ago

Barry, I flagged your comments and I should sue you for defamation.

Brian, I understand this killer was born in US; I am just passing along what he said. And he was calling Afghanistan home, according to witness. I will point out there is much animosity in Okinawa because of US presence. It may boil over.

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Brian Kotowski 9 months, 1 week ago

I've been called a coward and worse and everything in between on this board. You called me a hypocrite only yesterday; and I've been threatened with bodily harm on more than one occasion. In the decade or so I've been posting here, I've never flagged a single contribution for removal. I'm not saying you're wrong and I'm right, but I find it an interesting observation. I also note that the lie you posted about Ken M (his "suggestion" that rude people should be gunned down) still stands, so apparently some have thicker skin than others.

Threatening a lawsuit over online bickering: the last refuge of the perpetually aggrieved.

0

Eric Morris 9 months, 1 week ago

Brian, I did not flag your comments and I'm pretty sure I did not call you a hypocrite (maybe Eric Bowman?). I flagged Barry's comments because he called me a Jew hater, which is a blatant lie. The Pilot can do what it pleases. I'm not going to waste my time suing him, but if he keeps lying in a malicious way and the Pilot doesn't stop it then that would be my recourse.

1

Brian Kotowski 9 months, 1 week ago

I've not suggested that you flagged any of my remarks. I've long been irritated by those whom I've referred to as 'forum crybabies', and I would have to lump you in with them at this point. My preference has always been to live and let live, and allow everyone to reach their own conclusions. Now that you've manged to get Barry nuked from this forum that's no longer an option. While I can appreciate not wanting to be tarred with childish appellations (Ive been targeted on more than one occasion), your self-righteous indignation would be more compelling absent the blatant lie you've posted about another member. Your refusal to even acknowledge it says more about you than you know.

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Brian Kotowski 9 months, 1 week ago

Actually, I have to back-peddle somewhat: I have flagged a post for removal. When the Arnone's dog was killed by their douchebag neighbor, they took to this forum to accuse him. I was concerned that slamming him publicly before trial might jeopardize the chances of the most severe penalties being imposed, so I did flag those remarks. Mea culpa.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 9 months, 1 week ago

More mayhem by those wacky fun loving peace loving radical Islamic terrorists from last year. Looks like they do believe in diversity. Blacks, whites, Jews, Christians,Gays, Straights.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32169080

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Scott Wedel 9 months, 1 week ago

Extremist Islamic sects have received far more funding than extremist Christian sects and so are far more of an issue now. That doesn't mean that Islam itself is the problem. Saudi government has caused huge problems with what they fund.

As for big lies, that is reserved for anyone claiming that White Nationalists in the US do not consider themselves Christians and justify their belief by quoting the Bible.

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jerry carlton 9 months, 1 week ago

Scott provide us with numbers on how many "extremist Christians" and "Extremist Islamists" have killed in terrorist acts in the last 25 years. You seem to have indicated you love to do research on this forum. Do you have any spiritual leanings of any kind?

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Brian Kotowski 9 months, 1 week ago

I owe Eric Morris an apology. I've confused him with Eric Bowman. Consider me properly chastened, Eric.

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Eric Morris 9 months, 1 week ago

Apology accepted and no hard feelings. I really didn't want to flag him, but to accuse me of anti-Semitism was too far, plus using the "subhuman" term was too close to how people justified slavery here. I certainly didn't ask for him to be banned, but I also knew that flagging him for that might get him banned. He is an adult; maybe he will learn that is not a good way to have a fruitful discussion on US-Israeli relations.

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Scott Wedel 9 months, 1 week ago

The paper has started to enforce that personal attacks on those that post are not allowed. I disagree with banning people. I think some people have been banned that wrote a reasonable number of good posts, but I see paper's point of not wanting to spend their time monitoring posts.

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Chris Hadlock 9 months, 1 week ago

Personal attacks and liable should not be allowed. If you are unable to discuss your viewpoints without resorting to those kinds of tactics then you should not be allowed to post.

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John St Pierre 9 months, 1 week ago

The greatest threat/ killer of mankind thru the ages has been religion..... which I am sure is what the Almighty did not remotely have in mind.....

1

Brian Kotowski 9 months, 1 week ago

As a general principle, this heathen distances himself from all Abrahamic faiths on the grounds that all of them – without exception – privilege faith over reason. But not all of them are equally malignant in the same way all the time. If I was ranting in the 1930's, I would propose the Roman Catholic Church as the most dangerous religion in the world, owing to its open allegiance to fascism and antisemitism. From which I don't believe the West has ever completely recovered, nor ever will.

In the here and now, the most toxic incarnation of Abrahamic religion is Islam. The very notion that the end game is Sharia Law – A FREAKING THEOCRACY – and the best way to get there is Jihad; and that Muslims have a singular prerogative to A) feel aggrieved enough to demand it, and B) slaughter those who disagree, is infanitely more obscene, hateful, destructive, and evil than Fred Phelps/Jerry Fallwell/Jim & Tammy Faye/Jimmy Swaggart squared.

There is no Christian analogue to Sharia law of the sort imposed by the House of Saud (whom Preezy & Hillary assure us is “moderate”). Nor a Western parallel to UN Resolution 62-154, which calls upon every nation to criminalize any and all criticism of Islam. Its signatories include all 56 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Not just a handful of lunatics in a cave, not just Iran or Sudan, but every Muslim nation on earth; including those whom our elites assure us are "moderate."

Those same elites and their minions condemn observations like these as bigotry. In moderate Saudi Arabia, distributing Bibles will land you in one of their moderate prisons. Questioning the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (Propeller Beanie Upon Him) will earn you a public beheading in Riyadh. But I'm the bigot. That's good to know.

1

Brian Kotowski 9 months, 1 week ago

Incidentally, I miss Jimmy Swaggart. His fire & brimstone routine was one of the most entertaining Vaudevilles ever; that he and Jerry Lee Lewis grew up in the same family makes a boatload of sense.

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Brian Kotowski 9 months, 1 week ago

Over the weekend, one of the official strategies to combat Islamic terror was keep Americans from hearing the terrorists state their objectives & motivations:

“I pledge of allegiance to [redacted]. “I pledge allegiance to [redacted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [redacted].”

Even though everyone knew the score. Arrogance and stupidity writ large - the sheeple will believe whatever they're told to believe.

Someone must have convinced Preezy that his head-in-the-sand routine wasn't playing well, because the full transcripts have been released. A clue-by-four moment for the administration? Color me skeptical.

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