The Upshot

Terror groups using mosque controversy as propaganda

Liz Goodwin
The Upshot

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Terrorists are using the controversy around the proposed mosque and community center two blocks from Ground Zero as propaganda, reports the Wall Street Journal:

A U.S. official on Sunday said the administration was taking the upswing in anti-U.S. chatter seriously. "Terrorists like al-Qaeda and its violent allies are motivated already to try to attack the United States, but when it comes to propaganda, extremists are pure opportunists. They'll use whatever they can," the official said.

The jihadists are also using a planned Koran-burning in Florida on Sept. 11 as fuel for anti-America bashing. "We are handing al-Qaeda a propaganda coup, an absolute propaganda coup," Evan Kohlmann, an independent terrorism consultant, told the Journal.

Meanwhile, protests and counterprotests that drew 700 people to the proposed site in New York got very heated Sunday, though there were no arrests or injuries. An attendee uploaded a video that shows a man who claims to be a carpenter working at Ground Zero walking through the crowd of protesters as they yell at him. Someone yells "Mohammed's a pig!" at the man.  He says he was mistaken for a Muslim by the crowd.

And today, the liberal magazine Mother Jones writes that at least two leaders of a congressionally created and federally funded group to promote religious tolerance and freedom around the world have come out against the proposed Islamic center. The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom "was created by Congress in 1998 to monitor religious freedom around the world and scold countries that aren't meeting religious freedom obligations outlined by international human rights treaties," Mother Jones reports.

Photo of Sunday's protest: Getty Images

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