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Gen. Patraeus Warns: If Gainesville “Church” Burns Korans, U.S. Troops Will Be Targeted

| September 7, 2010

gen. david patraeus

Gen. David Patraeus never thought a second front would open in Gainesville. (Department of Defense)

In the eyes of the Muslim world the signature event of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq wasn’t the fact that Saddam Hussein was deposed, but that Iraqi prisoners were humiliated and tortured by American soldiers, intelligence personnel and private operatives at Abu Ghraib  in 2003 and 2004, the same prison where Saddam had kept his torture chambers busy. The scandal damaged America’s credibility and fueled recruiting for insurgent and terrorist groups. It also contributed to an escalation in violence, adding to the death tally on all sides, and permanently staining American designs in Iraq.

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On Tuesday, Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, warned that if a “church” in Gainesville goes ahead with its planned “Burn a Koran Day” on Sept. 11, images of the event “would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence.”

“It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort,” Petraeus said in a separate interview with the Wall Street Journal. “It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.”

Hundreds of Afghans protested the planned burning on Monday. The 50-member “church” in Gainesville has become a lightning rod of anti-Americanism in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries. Five years ago, 15 people died in riots in Afghanistan triggered by revelations that guards at the Guantanamo prison for suspected militants and terrorists flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet and placed other copies on bathroom floors intentionally to offend prisoners.

The Koran burning is planned to coincide with commemorations of the 9/11 attacks nine years ago. Terry Jones, who heads Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, and who originated “Burn a Koran Day,” told the Associated Press he had no intention of changing plans. “We are at this time not going to cancel it. We’re still considering it and praying about it,” Jones said. “We are also just also concerned and wondering, when do we stop? How much do we back down? … Instead of us backing down, maybe it’s to time to stand up.”

Some 328 American troops have been killed so far this year in Afghanistan, already 11 more than in all of 2009, and the highest American death toll of any year since the Afghan war began in 2001. In all, 1,275 American soldiers have been killed  in the Afghan theater. When British, Canadian and other NATO forces are included, the death tally is 2070.

Perceptions drive policy as much, if not more, than does reality in Afghanistan, and not just with regards to the Taliban. “Military officials also fear that if video of the Quran burning is broadcast in Afghanistan,” the Journal reports today, “tensions could rise between NATO forces and the Afghan military and police. Allegations of mishandling the Quran have interrupted Afghan security training at least twice this year,” according to Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who oversees the effort to train Afghan security.

“In one instance,” the Journal reports, “a Quran fell to the ground when an American officer opened a locker during an inspection of Afghan trainees’ barracks. The rumor quickly spread that the officer had thrown it to the ground, angering the trainees at the camp. ‘He quickly apologized, but rumors took off like wildfire,’ Gen. Caldwell said. ‘It was so hard to get the misperception turned around we stopped all training for the rest of the day.’”

11 Responses for “Gen. Patraeus Warns: If Gainesville “Church” Burns Korans, U.S. Troops Will Be Targeted”

  1. William says:

    So let’s see if I understand this correctly.

    People all over the US (except in Manhatten) are screeching about the insensitivity of a muslim Imam and his wife, who was formerly engaged with the dumbya administration in Muslim outreach, and is funded by a Saudi Prince who happens to own 7% of Newscorp, for the dastardly deed of wanting to put a muslim YMCA in an old coat factory, which happens to be situated in a large Muslim community in lower Manhatten. The big “complaint” being it’s a couple of blocks from the sacred, yet vacant place called “Ground Zero”. Fox “news” goes batshit, and drags the angry, hateful, unprincipled mob down the moral sewer with them. Life is good, isn’t it.

    Now this “christian” group in Gainsville is going to Out-Phelps Westboro and further stretch first amendment rights by this vile act, having chosen to ignore our top general’s cautioning that this might very well cost the lives of some of our men and women in uniform. But in our “land of freedom” this is tolerable because it’s good old murricans expressing their freedom of expression.

    I am deeply offended, not only by the act itself, but by the duplicity. These are precisely the sort of individuals who make reasoned discourse impossible because they rail against the murder, death, and mayhem wrought by a particular sort of religious fanatics, and then close their screed with words like “praise God, and pass the ammo” without noting the irony.

    Winning hearts and minds.

  2. PCer says:

    Terry Jones is an idiot. Unfortunately, the press will not be able to stay away and it is just adding more fuel to his fire. (Literally and figuratively). Terry Jones is full of hatred and ass backwards ideals about religion. I would be willing to bet that he has a white sheet and hood hanging prominently in his closet.

  3. over it says:

    Yes William, seems like you understand correctly.

  4. some guy says:

    Both have the “right” to due what they plan.The nut job in gainsvile and the muslim in NYC who just wants to build it in that spot to show the power of islam. Both are also wrong for wanting to due the same.

  5. Kevin says:

    First let me say I DEFINITELY do not agree with burning the Koran because we transcend that kind of ignorance. Having said that, where are all the activists supporting the church’s right to ignorantly express themselves, as they did so adamantly for the rights of the Cordoba Project players?

    What I see is this: If Islam is a religion of peace, why is the world fearful of attack from its legions of followers? Why are we admitting to the increased risks of attacks here and abroad if it is this peaceful religion? Why do people die when something as simple as a cartoon is drawn about Muhammad? Because it is not a peaceful religion until Muslims themselves stand up against the extremists, which they could do, but don’t. This provides a reason to push back against its spawning growth for protection of innocent people at very least.

    What the leaders of the Islamic world do is force acquiescence upon us, and then they take another step forward encroaching on our rights in some way and furthering their ideology. This church is on record saying they are doing this in response to Islamic extremism. This is on record. If Muslims wish to show their interests in becoming homogenous then they will support the rights of this Church to do as they apparently intend to do.

    The question stands, why does the church need to protect themselves with a private militia if the followers of Islam are as peaceful as they proclaim themselves to be, especially here in the United States?

  6. Jerry M says:

    It’s good to know that up until now, our troops haven’t been targeted.

  7. Dorothea says:

    I just heard that Terry Jones was booted out of by his congregation for “Spiritual Abuse” in Cologne, Germany. Google Spiegel Online International for more information.

    Quote: “US fundamentalist pastor Terry Jones, who wants to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11, ran a church in the western German city of Cologne until last year when members of the congregation expelled him. Former members have spoken of his hate-filled sermons and insistence on “blind obedience.”

  8. Kevin says:

    AS per ABC reporters (cough,choke), we see that US Armed forces in Afganistan burned bibles in a sign of good faith that soldiers did not have any to hand out to Afgan people. Is that wonderful. Please again tell me why it is we are supporting the rights of Islam, which is an ideology cloaked as a religion, and not the rights of others?

  9. hogdick says:


  10. . says:

    How did this one little dumb church/man get all this press??? He is getting what he wants to be the news. the only good that may come from this is some may learn that islam is NOT a peace loving religion if/when they respond with violance.

  11. Anita says:

    Suppose they held a Qur’an burning and nobody came? Just consider the $amount of free publicity this formerly unknown, Elmer Gantry-wannabee has gotten. I would love to ask him specifically what he hopes to accomplish by deliberately calling attention to the destruction of something as holy to Muslims as his Bible is to him? Does he think it will bring them to Jesus? Bring them to their knees, or merely bring in more members, more revenue and, not incidentally, more loot in his paycheck? What I think it WILL bring is all of the haters out of the woodwork.

    The urgings of his fellow Christians, the Pope and even General Petraeus to give up this meaningless and provocative BS, fall before his defiant, “we can’t back down now” and “we feel we need to do this”; tacit admission that his is an ego driven agenda, having nothing to do with the words of Jesus.

    I do wish these idiot teleprompter-readers and newspaper reporters would quit interviewing this clown and take the bully out of his bully pulpit.

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