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September 9th, 2010
09:57 AM ET

Obama: Quran-burning plan is 'recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda'

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A plan by a small Florida church to burn Qurans on September 11, which has triggered worldwide controversy, is a "recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda," President Barack Obama said Thursday.

"You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan" as a result of the proposal by the Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center, Obama said on ABC's "Good Morning America." "This could increase the recruitment of individuals who'd be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities."

The Rev. Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove Center, has said he will proceed with the plan Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, despite increased pressure to abandon the proposal and warnings that going ahead could endanger U.S. troops and Americans worldwide.

Interpol on Thursday issued a global alert to its 188 member countries, warning of a "strong likelihood" of violent attacks if the Quran burning proceeds. And the FBI warned local law enforcement that the plan, along with other recent controversies involving the American Muslim community, could lead to hate crimes and encourage extremist rhetoric, although a federal law enforcement official said there was no credible information that attacks were planned.

The FBI visited Jones at the Dove Center on Thursday, according to Jeffrey Westcott, special agent in charge of the Jacksonville, Florida, bureau. The FBI also visited him a few weeks ago, he said, but would not say what was discussed.

Discussions are taking place within the Obama administration about the possibility of intervening, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Thursday. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the possibility of calling Jones is under consideration, and that Defense Secretary Robert Gates was participating in the discussions. Who might call Jones or what, if anything, might be done is still being discussed, Gibbs said.

Full story

Updated: 2:40 p.m.


Filed under: Islam • President Barack Obama
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