President Barack Obama told “Good Morning America” Thursday that the plans of Pastor Terry Jones and his congregation at the less-than-100 member Dove World Outreach Center to burn copies of the Islamic holy book, the Quran, on September 11 could be a “recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda.” President Obama voiced his worries after attention given the small Florida church and its anti-Islamic pastor has seen worldwide condemnation for the planned quran burnings, death threats against the pastor, protests in various Muslim countries, and even a global alert issued by Interpol warning of a chance of increased terrorist activities should the burnings actually take place. Developments have led to the point where, according to ABC News, the Obama administration has taken into consideration calling Pastor Terry Jones to ask if he would call off the public quran burnings.
Obama told “Good Morning America” that, as a result of such an action by Pastor Terry Jones, “You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan.” He also noted, “This could increase the recruitment of individuals who’d be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities.”
But recruitment implies time to prepare. Interpol, working on the knowledge of civil unrest and protests in various Muslim countries due to the planned quran burnings in Florida and in direct response to a Pakistani request, issued a global warning Thursday for its 188 member nations to be on heightened alert for terrorist activities.
Terry Jones, the 58-year-old pastor that leads the small Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, has received numerous death threats, more than there are members in his tiny congregation. But, according to latest reports, he has no plans of halting the quran burnings.
Jones told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on “Hardball” that he was sending a “radical message” to radical Islam that their religion of violence was not welcome. He told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he was burning books, not murdering people.
Pastor Terry Jones and his “radical message” has been heard loud and clear throughout the Muslim world, sparking heated protests in Afghanistan (which, in turn, prompted International Forces commander General David Petraeus to make a statement that the quran burnings could endanger the lives of Americans and others, not to mention American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq), Bahrain, Pakistan, and Indonesia. His pronouncements and continued public insistence that he will burn qurans on September 11 has brought public condemnation from not only the President of the United States, but also the Secretary of State and the U. S. Attorney General. The Vatican even issued a statement noting that the act was an “outrageous and grave gesture.”
The level of tension throughout the world grew to the point that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the Obama administration was even considering interceding and asking Pastor Terry Jones not to burn the qurans. Gibbs said that the President himself would not personally intercede in the matter but a member of the administration, if the decision to call was made, would make an appeal to the Pastor.
Dove World Outreach Center plans to hold a three-hour quran burning at their church on September 11. In addition to worldwide protests and condemnation, the city of Gainesville has refused to issue burn permits for the bonfire.
Update: The New York Times and various media outlets reported from Gainesville Thursday evening that Pastor Terry Jones, who had been in negotiations with well-known Florida Imam Muhammad Musri about moving the Ground Zero Mosque (in what looked as like an attempt by Jones to save face and withdraw from the quran burning), issued a statement that he would cancel the scheduled holy book burning on September 11. But just a few hours later, with New York Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf denying that an agreement to move the Ground Zero Mosque had been made (or even discussed), Jones told reporters (via Newsmax) he had been “clearly lied to.” Jones then said that he might reconsider burning qurans on Saturday, September 11.