July 13th, 2011
11:59 PM ET

'Ex-terrorist' rakes in homeland security bucks

Editor's note: Watch Part 2 of Drew Griffin's special investigative report about Walid Shoebat Thursday on AC360° beginning at 10pm ET.

Rapid City, South Dakota (CNN) - Walid Shoebat had a blunt message for the roughly 300 South Dakota police officers and sheriff's deputies who gathered to hear him warn about the dangers of Islamic radicalism.

Terrorism and Islam are inseparable, he tells them. All U.S. mosques should be under scrutiny.

"All Islamic organizations in America should be the No. 1 enemy. All of them," he says.

It's a message Shoebat is selling based on his own background as a Palestinian-American convert to conservative Christianity. Born in the West Bank, the son of an American mother, he says he was a Palestinian Liberation Organization terrorist in his youth who helped firebomb an Israeli bank in Bethlehem and spent time in an Israeli jail.

That billing helps him land speaking engagements like a May event in Rapid City - a forum put on by the state Office of Homeland Security, which paid Shoebat $5,000 for the appearance. He's a darling on the church and university lecture circuit, with his speeches, books and video sales bringing in $500,000-plus in 2009, according to tax records.

"Being an ex-terrorist myself is to understand the mindset of a terrorist," Shoebat told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."

But CNN reporters in the United States, Israel and the Palestinian territories found no evidence that would support that biography. Neither Shoebat nor his business partner provided any proof of Shoebat's involvement in terrorism, despite repeated requests.

Back in his hometown of Beit Sahour, outside Bethlehem, relatives say they can't understand how Shoebat could turn so roundly on his family and his faith.

"I have never heard anything about Walid being a mujahedeen or a terrorist," said Daood Shoebat, who says he is Walid Shoebat's fourth cousin. "He claims this for his own personal reasons."

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Islam
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Ahmed Selim

    To the AC 360 team in general and Mr. Cooper in particular:
    Thank you very much for bringing Waleed Shoebat's story to the news ; please keep up the great work and always continue to be neutral when bringing news and debating issues, thank you again

    July 14, 2011 at 12:06 am |
  2. Amini

    Dear Anderson
    Thank you for showing the world that people will lie and deceit for the sake of the mighty dollar.
    I was very upsen when I first watched the report on the ex terrorist Mr. Shoebat, but then I was convinced that he is only doing it to cash in. It is one thing to convert to Christianity and that is his right to do so, but he should not be allowed to promote such hate for Islam. And to recite the Quran and misinterpret the quote he was reading.
    Thank you for trying to discredit him. Just trying is good enough for me.

    July 13, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  3. parkmore

    Thanks Anderson for lighting the true about this Walid Shoebat

    July 13, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  4. James

    What will it take for America to wake up to the Islam Holy war against us. Yes it smolders within our own borders and is a teapot waiting to boil. Our current laws open us up to a hornets nest in our near future. Why do all Americans have to suffer at TSA discretion. Will we become a "Police State" I hope America wakes up and we don't become one. If they don't like our current laws they are free to go back were they came from. Americans Stand up and be counted!

    July 13, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
  5. Josh

    "But CNN reporters in the United States, Israel and the Palestinian territories found no evidence that would support that biography."
    Who did you talk to? Shin Bet? Or some Palestinian terrorist who would never own Shoebat? You spoke to a "fourth cousin?" Really?? A family that is obliged to disown him. Lazy journalism.

    July 13, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  6. Iqbal

    Now Shoebat has been exposed, Homeland Security should ask for their money back and try him in court of law for stealing tax dollars by illegal means.

    July 13, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  7. Wendy

    For Walid Shoebat to generalize about Muslims and Islam is rediculous. It is as bad as saying all black people are drug addicts and thieves and white people are rich. Just stupid. I am not Muslim but my husband is and he is the kindest, most loving and caring person I have ever met. He is as far from being a terrorist as you can get. I have also met a lot of his family in Ghana and they are so loving, welcoming and don't have an unkind bone in their bodies. It seems Mr. Shoebat is show boating to get his 15 minutes of fame. Shame on him.

    July 13, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  8. kirsten

    you kinda missed the most critical part of this guy's story: he is spewing, at least misinformation about Islam and at worst hatred. why would HLS want to allow this guy to feed their workers suspicions with non-truths? Hmm.....

    July 13, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  9. teresa, sno-Hio

    fact is, sadly, we dont know who to believe anymore.... everyone is pointing at everyone else in the terrorist blame game. Last paragraph up there says it all....

    July 13, 2011 at 6:35 pm |