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Skeptics challenge life stories offered by high-profile Muslim converts to Christianity

When asked by the Jerusalem Post in 2008 why there were no records, Shoebat surmised that the incident was not serious enough to merit news coverage. Yet four years earlier, he told Britain's Sunday Telegraph: "I was terribly relieved when I heard on the news later that evening that no one had been hurt or killed by my bomb."

On his Web site, Saleem says he carried out terror missions in Israel, fought with Afghan mujaheddin against the Soviets, and came to the United States hoping to wage jihad against America. He also said once that he was descended from the "grand wazir of Islam," until skeptics pointed out that it was a nonsensical term, akin to calling someone the "governor of Christianity."

Skeptics also point out that Shoebat and Saleem say they carried out terrorist activities in the 1960s and 1970s, long before modern Islamic radicalism emerged in the 1980s. They also ask why, if their stories are true, the two have been able to retain their U.S. citizenship.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Caner, Shoebat, Saleem and others like them belong to an "industry" that is often perpetuated by fundamentalist Christians.

"The people that are doing this do it to make money or get converts or to get some personal benefit," Hooper said.

Muslims and non-Muslims alike are troubled that these avowed former terrorists have been welcomed as experts. They have appeared on CNN and Fox News and spoken at Harvard Law School. In 2008, they were speakers at a terrorism conference sponsored by the Air Force Academy, the findings of which were to be distributed at the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.

With the United States engaged in combat in the heart of the Islamic world, Weinstein said, Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. military are promoting terrorists-turned-Christians, with potentially deadly consequences.

''These guys are spewing Islamophobic hatred, and the Pentagon laps it up. This is the kind of prejudice and bigotry that can lead to genocide," Weinstein said.

-- Religion News Service


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