Walid Shoebat (Arabic: وليد شعيبات) is a Palestinian American Christian who converted from Islam. Shoebat claims to be a former Palestinian Liberation Organization terrorist. He is a speaker for hire about dangers of Islamic radicalism and also claims to be a strong supporter of the state of Israel. Born in the West Bank to an American mother, Shoebat also claimed to have firebombed an Israeli bank.
He was interviewed as a terrorism expert on several television programs, including appearances on CNN and its sister network HLN in 2006 and 2007. The BBC, Fox News, and CNN have presented Shoebat as a "terrorist turned peacemaker".
According to the biography on his official website, Shoebat was born in Bethlehem to an American mother, giving him dual citizenship to the United States and Israel. He is the grandson of the Mukhtar of Beit Sahour, whom Shoebat describes as an associate of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammad Amin al-Husayni. Shoebat claims to have supported the Palestine Liberation Organization in his youth, and also claims he was involved in an attack against an Israeli bank.
Upon his release from a short stint in jail, he continued his anti-Israeli activism until going to the United States, where he became involved with the Arab Student Organization at Loop College in Chicago. Shortly afterwards Shoebat worked as a software engineer. In 1993, Walid converted to Christianity.
After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Shoebat claims he became an active advocate against Islamism and a strong supporter of the State of Israel. Shoebat is the founder of the Walid Shoebat Foundation, an organization that claims to "fight for the Jewish people". He is sometimes paid for his appearances and solicits donations for the foundation. He says he formed the foundation to educate Americans as to why the US should support Israel. Shoebat has said that he believes "in a Greater Israel that includes Judea and Samaria, and by this I mean a Jewish state". He regards the Gaza Strip as Jewish by right and believes Israel should retake the territory saying, "If a Jew has no right to Gaza, then he has no right to Jaffa or Haifa either." He advocates that Israel deport anyone who denies its right to exist, "even if they were born there". His reasoning is that if someone denies Israel's right to exist, they are an enemy of Israel, which is what most nations consider to be high treason: a crime punishable by death. He believes deportation is a better alternative punishment for the crime of high treason.
On Islamism and Sharia
Shoebat gives lectures to local police departments regarding his belief that "most Muslims seek to impose Sharia in the United States. To prevent this, he said in an interview, he warns officers that "you need to look at the entire pool of Muslims in a community.'" According to the Washington Post, "When Shoebat spoke to the first annual South Dakota Fusion Center Conference in Sioux Falls . . . he told them to monitor Muslim student groups and local mosques and, if possible, tap their phones. 'You can find out a lot of information that way,' he said."
On Islam and Nazism
Shoebat argues that parallels exist between radical Islam and Nazism. He says, "Secular dogma like Nazism is less dangerous than Islamofascism that we see today ... because Islamofascism has a religious twist to it; it says 'God the Almighty ordered you to do this'.... It is trying to grow itself in fifty-five Muslim states. So potentially, you could have a success rate of several Nazi Germanys, if these people get their way."
Lack of evidence supporting autobiographical account
Shoebat claimed that he threw a bomb at Bank Leumi, an Israeli bank, in Bethlehem. A 2008 Jerusalem Post article raised questions regarding the authenticity of Shoebat's account, and reported that Bank Leumi had no record of an attack on its Bethlehem branch between 1977 and 1979. In addition Shoebat's uncle also denied that such an attack took place. Such an incident was also not reported by Israeli news outlets according to Omar Sacirbey's 2010 Washington Post article. The Jerusalem Post article reported a contradiction in Shoebat's response to the question whether word of the bombing made the news at the time. He replied, "I don't know. I didn't read the papers because I was in hiding for the next three days." However, according the same article, he had told Britain's Sunday Telegraph in 2004 that "I was terribly relieved when I heard on the news later that evening that no one had been hurt or killed by my bomb." During his telephone interview, Shoebat was unable to recall the date or time of year of the attack. He told the Sunday Telegraph in 2004 that he was pressured by teachers to adopt an extreme Islamic philosophy. His uncle, who still lives in Beit Sahour, said religion did not play a major role in Walid's education, which he described as ideologically mild, and that there was no attack on Bank Leumi.
On April 9, 2008, Shoebat responded to the earlier Jerusalem Post's report on that paper's op-ed page. He wrote that the Jerusalem Post had been duped. According to him, the sources who disputed his own account of his upbringing (including his relatives) were themselves involved in terrorism. He claimed they want to see him discredited, probably because of his conversion to Christianity. He also claims that reputable witnesses who could confirm the bombing operation of Bank Leumi were not interviewed. He also posted a response on his website.
On July 13, 2011, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360° reported an investigative piece into Walid Shoebat's claim to authority based on being a former terrorist. The report found that according to Israeli government officials, the bank that Walid Shoebat claimed to have attacked, and his own relatives, no record of his supposed terrorist history existed. Another of Shoebat's claims, that of a two-week term in an Israeli jail, was also unsubstantiated, with Israel having no record he was ever jailed. His fourth-cousin, interviewed in the report, stated that he had never known Shoebat to have ties to any movement, and that his claims of being a former terrorist were "for his own personal reasons". According to CNN, their reporters in the United States, Israel and the Palestinian territories found no evidence to support Shoebat's claims and "neither Shoebat nor his business partner provided any proof of Shoebat's involvement in terrorism". In spite of this, CNN later admitted that it is nearly impossible to verify whether or not someone is a former PLO terrorist or not, as the PLO almost always refuses to comment on, or acknowledge, any person who might speak out against them. As one CNN host put it, "The PLO refuses to acknowledge the existence of Israel. It is not a stretch of the imagination to think that they will refuse to acknowledge the existence of former PLO members who support Israel."
Regarding CNN's inability to confirm his jail time, Shoebat wrote "Even if Mr. Griffin did check prison records, he was searching the wrong name. Had CNN examined our records that were offered to them, it will prove beyond doubt that Mr. Griffin made an error. When Mr. Shoebat was arrested he turned in his U.S. passport and not his birth certificate or I.D. card. His U.S. passport had a different last name."
Omar Sacirbey's 2010 Washington Post article reports that Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American–Islamic Relations, has questioned Shoebat's motives, saying that "[Ergun] Caner, Shoebat, [Kamal] Saleem along with others like them, belong to an 'industry' that is often perpetuated by fundamentalist Christians" and that people are doing this "to make money or get converts or to get some personal benefit". The article also reports that skeptics have questioned how Shoebat and others have been able to retain US citizenship if their stories of terrorist activities are true. Though Shoebat may be an exception since his U.S. citizenship comes from his American mother, not from immigration or other means.
Charitable organization status
The Jerusalem Post also stated that Shoebat has profited from his story that he was formerly a Muslim terrorist who has rejected Islam for Christianity. When the Post asked Shoebat whether the Walid Shoebat Foundation is a registered charity, he said that it was registered in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Charitable Trusts and Organizations Section said it had no record of such a charity. When asked again, Shoebat claimed it was registered under a different name, but that he was not aware of the Foundation's registered name, nor any other details, which were known only to his manager. Dr. Joel Fishman of the Allegheny County Law Library in Pennsylvania expressed doubts about Walid Shoebat Foundation's donation process. He noted that if the money was being given to a registered charity, the charity would have to make annual reports to the state and federal government. However, he did not address the possibility of it being an unregistered charity, which is a preferred method for keeping donor information private.
- Luyken, Jorg (March 30, 2008). "The Palestinian 'terrorist' turned Zionist". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
- "'Ex-terrorist' rakes in homeland security bucks". CNN. July 7, 2011.
- Priest, Dana and Arkin, William (December 2010) Monitoring America, Washington Post
- Wayne Kopping & Raphael Shore (2005). Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West.[dead link]
- Omar Sacirbey, "Skeptics challenge life stories offered by high-profile Muslim converts to Christianity", Washington Post, June 26, 2010.
- Shoebat, Walid (April 9, 2008). "Right of Reply: I was a terrorist". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
- "CNN SMEAR CAMPAIGN—THE MISSING FACTS". www.shoebat.com. Retrieved April 5, 2013.