Muslim Extremist’s Web Site Stirs Mixed Emotions in Charlotte, N.C.

Friday , June 06, 2008,3566,363821,00.html    

 Click here to view the full video report on Samir Khan.

The website can be viewed here:

By Cristina Corbin


In a quiet, upscale neighborhood in Charlotte, N.C., rows of custom-style homes and neatly landscaped lawns represent the American dream. 

But one local resident has shattered that image, calling for the death of American troops in Iraq and supporting Al Qaeda through his Web site, which he reportedly runs from his parents’ home.

Samir Khan is the man behind — a radical Islamic site that praises Usama bin Laden and asks for Allah to “curse more American soldiers.”

The site posts videos of U.S. Humvees being blown up by roadside bombs in Iraq. It aims to inspire young Muslims to wage war against the West.

Terrorism experts say the Web site, written in English, is one of the premiere sites for Western audiences to get access to radical Islamist propaganda.

Khan, 22, declined requests for an interview, even when approached outside his home with cameras rolling. When asked if the messages on his site represent Islam, Khan would say only that “they represent Muslims.”

Click here to view the full video report on Samir Khan.

In an e-mail sent to FOX News, Khan lashed out at the “arrogance” of the media, saying it should focus instead on converting to Islam. “When you go down in to the earth six feet deep, nothing will matter except what Religion you died upon,” he wrote.

Following a report last month profiling his Web site, Khan railed against “the Kuffaar” — non-believers — who wrote the article and affirmed his belief that jihad is “an Islaamic obligation” rooted in Muslim texts.

Words like those stir mixed emotions in Charlotte, among the general public and among the 8,000 Muslims who live there.

Imam Khalil Akbar, a religious leader in Charlotte, condemned Khan’s site, saying its views do not reflect “mainstream Islamic thinking” and do not represent the Muslim community at large.

“I would reject categorically those kinds of encouragements to look up to people like bin Laden,” Akbar said.

Neighbors described Khan — who immigrated to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia when he was 7 years old — as “friendly” and “reserved.” They said he launched his Web site while taking classes at Central Piedmont Community College and selling Cutco knives.

Abdullah Mahmud, an acquaintance of Khan’s who attends the same mosque, the Islamic Center of Greater Charlotte, defended Khan’s viewpoints, saying his anger stems from the United States’ foreign policy and occupation of Iraq.

Mahmoud said the blood-drenched videos Khan shows of U.S. soldiers injured in combat “serve the purpose of making the reality of the Iraqi scene visible to people.”

“Those videos are not much different than videos involving American soldiers targeting Iraqi civilians,” he said. “You have to look at both sides here.”

One of Khan’s neighbors, Ron Williams, also defended Khan’s right to free speech.

“Our actions (in Iraq) were interpreted broadly in the Muslim world as an attack on Islam,” Williams said, “I defend his right to speak out.”

But Jarret Brachman, director of research at West Point’s Center for Combatting Terrorism, said Khan’s call for violence takes his anti-American views one step further.

“To be unhappy with U.S. foreign policy is one thing, but to advocate violence by promoting Al Qaeda is another,” he said.

“This is the most sophisticated and aggressive Web site in English that really puts out bin Laden’s ideology and the message that’s promoted by Al Qaeda,” he added.

Brachman said Khan’s site “raises the threshold for what it means to be a good, pro-Al Qaeda Web site” and is “the best in English.”

A graphic prominently displayed on the site shows a picture of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a prominent Al Qaeda spokesman whom Brachman calls “Bin Laden 2.0.”

“He’s the guy poised to take over the movement after bin Laden fades away,” Brachman said. “The fact that Khan would display him like he does means he’s trying not only to show he’s an insider, but also to model himself after him.”

The exact dangers his site poses are difficult to assess, experts said.

“It doesn’t necessarily move someone to action immediately, but it primes the pump,” Brachman said. “It gets somebody motivated to think more about Al Qaeda and so over the long term this is a very threatening message that he’s promoting.”

Click here to see more reactions from Charlotte’s Muslim community.


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