Walid Shoebat’s visit to the University of Toronto, together with Israel National Radio’s Tovia Singer, was but the latest of the former terrorist’s endeavors on behalf his latest cause: Israel and the Jewish people. Shoebat has related his extraordinary journey over the airwaves and before audiences across North America, encouraging people to “wake up and smell the hummus” before Islam succeeds in implementing its program of global Jihad.
Born in 1960 to an Arab Muslim father and an American Christian mother, Walid grew up mainly in the village of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem. His parents met while his father was studying in the United States, married, and returned to Jordanian-controlled Beit Sahour the year Walid was born. Once there, his father confiscated his mother's passport and prevented her from leaving. After a brief stint in Saudi Arabia, the Shoebats moved to Jericho, where the young Walid was enrolled in a Jordanian-run school.
“The first thing we learned growing up was to hate Jews,” Walid recalled. “I’ll never forgot the first song I learned in school, ‘Arabs our beloved and Jews our dogs.’ I used to wonder at that time who the Jews were, but repeated the words with the rest of the kids without any knowledge of the meaning.”
Soon after the Six-Day-War his father transferred him to a school in Bethlehem “where I grew in the faith of Islam, in which I was fed the idea that one day a fulfillment of an ancient prophecy by the Muslim prophet Mohammed would come to pass,” recalled Shoebat. “The prophecy foretold a battle in which the Holy Land would be recaptured and the elimination of the Jews would take place in a massive slaughter. ‘The day of judgment shall not come to pass until a tribe of Muslims defeat a tribe of Jews,’ it said, ‘in Jerusalem and the surrounding nations’.”
It was not long before Walid’s education led him to get involved in various terrorist activities. He routinely stirred up riots and lynch mobs, throwing firebombs and rocks at soldiers and pelting Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall. He even beat an Israeli soldier, with the intent to kill, but the soldier escaped at the last second.
He was a student of mob psychology, able to stir up a crowd of people, turning them into a bloodthirsty mob. “When I saw the Ramallah lynching [of two IDF reservists in the first days of the Oslo War –ed.],” said Shoebat, “I knew exactly how these people were feeling inside of them as they did this. Praising Allah…all those people screaming Allahu Akhbar together – you feel this indescribable ecstasy where you literally want to lunge at anyone called a Jew.”
It wasn’t long before Shoebat was initiated into Yassir Arafat’s Fatah terror group. “I was recruited by a guy named Mahmoud Abu-Amr, from Jerusalem,” he recalled. “I met up with him on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where he gave me a very sophisticated explosive device he had assembled.” The bomb – an explosive charge hidden in a loaf of bread – was intended for the Bank Leumi branch in Bethlehem. “We smuggled it from the Temple Mount,” said Shoebat, “I was walking – on the Temple Mount – with explosives and a timer in my hand. We walked to the walls and escaped so as to avoid the checkpoints. I went to the bus station and took a bus to Bethlehem, fully ready to give my life if I had to.” Even then, though, he had a pang of uncertainty. “At the last minute I saw some children walking around near the bank and decided ‘this is ridiculous’ and threw it on a rooftop nearby.”
Shoebat says he was not motivated by nationalism or the desire for self-determination as much as he was by his Islamic education. “I was not only a terrorist, but I was terrorized by my beliefs,” Shoebat recalled, “since I had to gain enough merit and good deeds to go to heaven but never was sure if my good deeds would outweigh my bad deeds in the scale when I would be judged by God, it was taught to us that to die fighting the Jews [would] ease Allah's anger towards my sin and I [would] be secured a good spot in heaven with beautiful wide eyed women to fulfill my most intimate desires, so either way [through actual attacks on Jews, or if I were to be killed in the attempt –ed.] I would win – terror was the only way.”
At age 18, after spending several months in Israeli prisons, Shoebat went to study in the United States becoming an activist in Chicago and fund-raising for the PLO. “Even living in America – a civilized society, if you will – I still had not changed my mind one bit about Israel and the Jews.”
The transformation came in 1993, when a newly married Shoebat tried to convert his Catholic wife to Islam. “I claimed that the Jews had corrupted the Bible and were prophet-killers,” Shoebat said. His wife asked him to prove his claims to her so a determined Shoebat purchased his first Bible in order to show his wife the contradictions and corruptions introduced to it by the Jews.
“In 1993 I asked the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to reveal to me whether the Bible was indeed corrupted as I was taught or if it were the truth and the Koran was the false document,” Shoebat said. Through parallel study of the Bible and the Koran he soon came to a logical crossroads: “Either the Jews had indeed changed the scripture – because how could God be on the side of evil people, or the Koran was false, and I was the evil one,” Shoebat recalled. “I then decided to examine the history from both sides – to weigh each sides. It was then that I began to see the spiritual link between the Jewish people and their land.”
Slowly a change overcame the veteran Jihadist. “After reading the Hebrew Bible, about all of the righteous wars of Israel – from biblical times until the present – it dawned on me,” said Shoebat. “How could it be that Allah is the true God if the Six-Day-War in 1967 resulted the greatest victory for the Jews since Joshua’s encirclement of Jericho. What’s more is that Israel’s victory – unlike Muslim conquests full of rape, pillaging and massacre – brought freedom for all peoples and religions. Everyone [his fellow Arabs living in Jericho at the time –ed.] saw and everyone remembers this but unfortunately people today deny the truth of what they.”
Shoebat decided at that point to turn away from the path of terrorism and Jihad. “I woke up my wife and said ‘Maria – I think I was wrong to try to convert you to Islam.’”
He embarked on a path of reconciliation – experiencing deep regret for his past actions as well as anger toward those who indoctrinated him to carry them out. “I deeply wish to be granted forgiveness from the soldier who I almost killed,” Shoebat said on Tovia Singer's radio show. He said he remembered hearing a second soldier call him ‘Amnon’. “I would beg Amnon to please understand that I underwent an educational occupation of hatred which brainwashed my mind to hate Jews. We were taught it since we were children and I did not know any better.”
Determined to let his people know what he knows, he soon began speaking to Muslim groups – demanding that they confront what Islam either always was – or has become. When confronted with what has become somewhat of a mantra since September 11th – that “true Islam is a religion of peace,” Shoebat responds, “I grew up there – I was there at the mosques, the ummahs and the religious schools. I know what is still being taught today in the textbooks and by the religious leaders – so my challenge to those who claim Islam is not the religion of terror we see today, is what have you done to stand against it and say ‘this is wrong’?”
“What the West does not understand about Islam,” Shoebat said on Tovia Singer’s radio broadcast, “is that Jihad has stages. If Muslims have the upper hand then Jihad is waged by force. If Muslim’s don’t have the upper hand then Jihad is waged through financial and political means. Since Muslims do not have the upper hand in America or Europe, they talk about peace while supporting Hamas and Hezballah. The whole idea of Islam being a peaceful religion emanates from that silent stage of Jihad."
The Imam (Islamic cleric) of Orange County, California, a guest on Singer’s radio show as well, took issue with Shoebat’s claims, saying that ‘Jihad’ represents an inner struggle and not the genocidal slaughter of infidels called for by Osama bin Ladin. Shoebat unblinkingly refuted the cleric’c claims, reciting verse after verse of Koranic scripture in its original Arabic and translating into English. “There are over one hundred quotes by Mohammad regarding Jihad – I could recite each one of them but we would be here all day. Every single one refers specifically to Jihad by the sword, by killing, by taking no prisoners – with only one quote referring to an internal struggle – called for by Mohammad after the complete conquest and occupation of Arabia.” He said that such claims were typical of the Islamic leadership in America, and are consumed eagerly by western audiences who do not want to believe that one of the major world religions poses such a danger to humanity.
Asked whether he believes that Musims in America truly adhere to the program of Jihad he described, Shoebat qualified his statements saying, “Afghans in the U.S. and Iranians who left Iran are predominately peaceful people. The Arabic speaking communities in America, however, do indeed support Osama bin Ladin and Hamas.” He cites a direct correlation between adherence to Islam and support of terrorism. “The less they know about Islam the more peaceful they are,” he said.
“There are those that reject many of the classical sources and truly focus on the peaceful verses of the Koran, seeking to twist the verses because they truly do not want to engage in violence,” said Shoebat, “but if those preachers would debate Osama bin Ladin, bin Ladin would clearly win because the words of the Koran are on his side.”
Shoebat, himself an evangelical Christian says it is unfortunate that Christian Arabs in Israel choose a theology of Jew hatred as well, even while experiencing persecution and intimidation by the Muslim majority. “The Christian Arabs in Israel get their education from their leaders and the Catholic church,” laments Shoebat. “They pretty much adhere to the Replacement Theology – that God replaced Israel with the Catholic church. They have also come up with a new Liberation Theology, co-opted by the Palestinian movement.”
Although Shoebat pulls no punches, his transformation has not been easy. “I was branded a traitor by my father and my family,” he said, “they say that I have betrayed the cause, the religion, the culture – everything.” Shoebat believes his treatment by his family is indicative of Islam’s fatal flaw. “If Islam truly were a peaceful religion then my family might consider me a nut case, but my own brother would not threaten to kill me, my family would not have confiscated my land and demanded I come back to Bethlehem and declare that ‘there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.’ If I don’t believe in Islam anymore why should I declare such a thing? The fact is that Mohammed clearly demanded that one who changes his faith must be killed. What part of 'kill' is not understood by those who claim Islam is a religion of peace? Is it any wonder why I have to live in hiding and be so careful even though I live in a free society here in America?”
Soeobat insists, however, that his pursuit of truth has been worthwhile and sees it as his mission to be a voice of true peace. "I come to you out of love for your people and your Bible, to say my people are wrong,” he told a group of Jewish students in Berkeley, “the Arabs and Muslims are wrong.”
Although he feels it is of utmost importance to speak to Jewish groups – to warn them not to relinquish parts of the Land of Israel to Islamic terrorists – his true goals lies with his own people. “My dream is to go to the prisons where I used to be – Ramallah prison, Muskavit prison – whatever prison – to go there and say ‘hey, there is a different way you can live from the way Yassir Arafat and Ahmed Yassin are brainwashing you to believe.’ I want to debate them and tell them why there are not 72 virgins or any of this other garbage that is being taught in their schools.”
In his appearances at mosques, synagogues and on radio talk shows, Shoebat is more than willing to take questions from Jews, Arabs and Islamists alike. One student at the University of Toronto asked Shoebat what he recommends Israel do to put an end to the Jihad being waged against her.
“Most Jews believe in a two-state solution,” answered Shoebat, “I do not believe in this. A Palestinian state will concoct its own rules and laws to continue the killing of Jews.” He suggested instead that Israel, “Wake up and smell the Hummus. We must return to the status quo – the occupation. There were jobs, people went to work and supported their families, and whoever got involved with terrorism was exiled or imprisoned – like any modern country in the world. I think Israel should stand strong and fight – dismantle Hamas and take away all the weapons, the way it used to be. The introduction of weapons into Palestinian society by Israel [under the Oslo accords, Israel gave assault rifles to Arafat’s ‘police force’ –ed.] was a disaster and they must be confiscated.”
Answering another question about life in Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) before the 1967 war, Shoebat described what life was like in Jericho at the time:
“We did not particularly mind Jordanian rule. The teaching of the destruction of Israel was a definite part of the curriculum, but we considered ourselves Jordanian until the Jews returned to Jerusalem. Then all of the sudden we were Palestinians – they removed the star from the Jordanian flag and all of the sudden we had a Palestinian flag.”
Shoebat feels very strongly that the ongoing war against Israel has nothing to do with an Arab desire for a Palestinian state. “Never in history was there a Palestinian state,” said Shoebat, “we never wanted a Palestinian state – even today the Palestinians do not want a Palestinian state…”
“Then what do they want?” asked Tovia Singer.
“They want the destruction of the Jews, period,” Shoebat said. “It’s a religious holy war. It’s in the culture, the tradition. Arafat is a chip off the same block as Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Ahmed Yassin – they are all birds of a feather, they have small differences but are birds of a feather.”
Asked by Singer what his message to the Jewish people today is, Shoebat thought for a moment and responded: “Your God is an awesome God and your land and your people are awesome. Hold tight and be strong. Do not be weakened by the nations of the world and all those trying to weaken you and take your land.”
As an afterthought, but said with a sense of great urgency, the former terrorist turned lover of Zion implored the Nation of Israel, “Please take back the holy Temple Mount.”
Walid Shoebat can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A short video of Walid Soebat describing his journey from PLO terrorist to lover of Zion can be viewed through the following links:
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Israel National Radio's Tovia Singer together with Walid Shoebat ,before a live audience at the University of Toronto, can be heard at the following links: