New York-Based Muslim’s Web Site Calls for God to ‘Kill the Jews’
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller
Yousef al-Khattab, formerly Joseph Cohen, is seen here in an undated photograph.
A New York bicycle cabbie who last year used his Web site to mock the beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl posted a prayer calling for the murder of Jews and exhorting Muslims to “throw liquid drain cleaner in their faces.” And there’s nothing authorities can do about it.
Yousef al-Khattab, who runs RevolutionMuslim.com and pedals a pedicab in New York City, insists the words he has posted on his Web site are a prayer, and not a threat — and that his hatred is protected by the First Amendment.
“If it was a threat, I’d be in jail,” the 41-year-old al-Khattab told Foxnews.com from his home in Queens. “I’m asking my God, that’s what it is. Every supporter of Israel is an enemy combatant and the immune system is not anti-Semitic for resisting disease.”
Al-Khattab removed the Oct. 7 post a “few days ago” and replaced it with a post about a mosque in Jerusalem.
An American-born Jew formerly known as Joseph Cohen who converted to Islam after attending an Orthodox rabbinical school — al-Khattab called on Allah to carry out “wrath on the Jewish occupiers of Palestine & their supporters.”
“Please throw liquid drain cleaner in their faces,” he wrote. ” … burn their flammable sukkos while they sleep … Ya Allah (Oh God) answer my duaa (prayer).” (“Sukkos” refers to the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, during which Jews build and eat their meals in outdoor huts known as “sukkahs,” which represent the huts the Jews lived in during their exodus from Egypt.)
Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News’ senior legal analyst, said the posting is “absolutely protected” by the First Amendment.
“All innocuous speech is absolutely protected and all speech is innocuous when there is time for more speech to rebut or address it,” he told Foxnews.com. “So even if this Web site were to call on Muslim freedom fighters to kill Jews, as long as there is time for someone else to challenge this with words, then the originals words are lawful.”
The blog post, signed by al-Khattab, notes that it should be taken only as a “prayer” and not as an incitement to genocide. But officials at the Anti-Defamation League are worried about its ability to influence others.
“Whether it’s a poem or a prayer, however he describes it, he decided to post it. And if you’re going to be posting a prayer like that, you just don’t know who’s going to read that and who might be influenced by it,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism. “There’s a certain amount of responsibility behind posting your own blog. We take it very seriously.”
Segal said the New York Police Department is “aware” of the blog post. Calls to Paul Browne, deputy commissioner of public information for the NYPD, were not immediately returned.
RevolutionMuslim.com has been monitored by the ADL since 2006, Segal said, and has roughly five to 10 active members who frequently distribute anti-Semitic literature in front of mosques throughout New York City.
“This is a group we’ve monitored for a while,” Segal said. “This is nothing particularly new, but then again, [the threat] has the ability to potentially influence people.”
The posting reflects the “prayer of every true Muslim,” al-Khattab said.
“Every true Muslim would say the same thing,” he continued. “Most people would agree that any occupied people have the right to defend themselves.”
Al-Khattab, who said he’s driven a pedicab in New York for the last three years, is married with four kids. He said he’s driven plenty of Jewish passengers without incident.
“I’ve never killed one,” he told Foxnews.com. “I suffer from mental Tourette’s [syndrome]. I say what’s on my mind. We have freedom of speech.”
Al-Khattab said he created RevolutionMuslim.com with the mission of “preserving Islamic culture” and seeking support of the “beloved Sheik Abdullah Faisal, who’s preaching the religion of Islam and serving as a spiritual guide.”
Faisal was convicted in the U.K. in 2003 for spreading messages of racial hatred and urging his followers to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners. In sermon recordings played at his trial, Faisal called on young, impressionable Muslims to use chemical weapons to “exterminate unbelievers” and “cut the throat of the Kaffars [nonbelievers] with [a] machete.”
Authorities believe Faisal’s sermons influenced London transport bomber Germaine Lindsay and the so-called “shoe bomber,” Richard Reid, who attended mosques where Faisal preached.
FBI spokesman Richard Kolko told Foxnews.com last year that it’s difficult to bring criminal charges against operators of Web sites like RevolutionMuslim.com unless specific threats are made.
‘It’s usually a First Amendment right if they don’t cross the threshold of making threats,” Kolko said. “There’s nothing we should or could do.”
Gregg Zukowski, president of the NYC Pedicab Association, said al-Khattab has been riding a pedicab in midtown Manhattan “on and off” for the past several years without any reported incidents. Zukowski was unaware of al-Khattab’s Web site.
“He’s just like one of a 1,000 guys who ride a pedicab,” Zukowski told Foxnews.com. “There’s nothing that sticks out about him in particular.”