MANKATO - Controversial national speaker Brigitte Gabriel gave a presentation Tuesday on radical Islam in Mankato during an event organized by the Southern Minnesota Tea Party.
Andrew Johnson, Jr., one of the organizers, said he was concerned the public was not taking radical or violent followers of Islam seriously, so he wanted to have a speaker that could provide education on the topic. He said Gabriel's organization contacted him about setting up the event.
Both Gabriel and the organizers stated repeatedly at the start that they were speaking about radical followers of Islam, not the normal or peaceful followers of the religion.
Gabriel leads ACT! for America, a grassroots organization focused on lobbying about national security and the threat of radical Islam. In her speeches, she says she was inspired to action by surviving war-torn Lebanon as a child and witnessing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York as an adult.
Gabriel is a highly controversial public figure due to her statements. At a Christians United for Israel conference, she said the difference between the Arab world and Israel was "the difference between civilization and barbarism ... between good and evil" before declaring "they have no souls." In an interview on the show "It's Supernatural!," she said Islam was a violent religion. She also stated that radical Islamists were not the ones hijacking the religion, but instead were the ones actually following the literal words of the Koran.
Her Tuesday speech claimed coordinated effort by the Muslim Brotherhood was the cause of increased radical Muslim terrorist attacks, and that the Brotherhood was working with radical Islamists to infiltrate the U.S. to brainwash students with propaganda and use its progressive policies against it.
To prove her point, she pointed to documents from 1982 and 1991 that were claimed to have been mentioned in the successful prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for financing terrorist organizations. She said it showed a coordinated plan across all radical Muslims to have schools teach "Al Qaeda talking points" and to undermine Western governments.
However, these documents have never had an official verification of authenticity, and their implementation has not been proven. Additionally, several tangential items in the Holy Land case, such those accused of being unindicted co-conspirators, were ruled by later courts to be "simply an untested allegation of the Government."
Gabriel also launched into specific accusations against the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in response to the controversy around its public opposition to her Minnesota speaking trip and to using a Little Falls school to hold her Monday speech. The school ultimately allowed that speech on the grounds, but the organizers were required to agree to terms of the school's policies regarding speeches.
Gabriel said she enjoyed CAIR's "hissy fit" because it allowed her to "expose their terrorist rap sheet." She listed off former CAIR members who had served prison sentences, as well as several accusations along the lines of the Holy Land trial's unindicted co-conspirators.
Tea Party organizers said representatives from CAIR's Minnesota branch attended the speech until Gabriel started accusing CAIR, and they had cordial conversation with the organizers about their concerns. The organizers said they would be open to host an event on moderate Muslims, but would need to know they could get a big enough turnout.