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JERUSALEM – Muslim protests throughout the Middle East regarding a now-retracted Newsweek report that claimed U.S. Army interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a Quran down the toilet are being organized by anti-Western jihadists and were planned several months ago with the magazine article serving as a convenient trigger, a senior Israeli security source told WND.
He warned that if not quelled, the gatherings can turn into violent mass anti-American revolts.
“Jihadists have been planting the seeds for quite some time for mass anti-American protests in the Middle East, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where pro-Taliban elements have been looking for an excuse to revolt against what they see as Western imposed governments,” the security official said. “The Newsweek article was just the excuse they needed.”
Newsweek reported May 9 that interrogators at the Cuba detention camp placed copies of the Quran on toilets to torture Muslim inmates and in one case flushed one down the toilet.
After two weeks, the magazine retracted its story, but not before it set off violent protests in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia and Gaza City, with at least 17 dead as a result.
Muslims in Indonesia and Pakistan continue holding anti-U.S. protests.
Islamic leaders in Pakistan have called for international anti-U.S. protest later this month.
“Islamic groups will hold demonstrations on May 27 across the world to condemn the desecration of Holy Quran in the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay,” Qazi Hussain Ahmad, head of a coalition of six politico-religious groups said Sunday.
Ahmad said his alliance, the Muttahida Majlis Amal, had “coordinated with Islamic organizations all over the world to join us in this day of condemnation.”
Groups in Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia, Britain, Turkey and other countries are planning more rallies to protest the alleged desecration.
“We had reports beginning several months ago that Islamist groups have been seeking to start uprisings against American advances in the Middle East,” said the security official.
“Pakistan and Afghanistan will likely be the site of the most unrest, with al-Qaida linked groups rallying constituents with plans of turning against the governments there. Hard-line shieks are bringing their followers to the streets.”
The official continued: “This is about hopes to unseat [Pakistani president General Pervez] Musharraf, who they see as an ally of America, overthrow the new Afghan government, create unrest and instability that will bog down [American] forces and interests in Iraq and the greater Middle East.”
“If not put down,” the official warned, “continued protests can turn into violent insurgencies.”
Meanwhile, Newsweek’s retraction was met with skepticism throughout the Muslim world.
“The apology and retraction are not enough,” Pakistan’s Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told Reuters.
Muttahida Majlis Amal demanded interrogators responsible for the alleged Quran desecration be punished.
“Those who planned and flashed this story in Newsweek must be exposed and punished,” deputy secretary general of the MMA, Liaquat Baloch, told Agence France-Presse.
“We will not be deceived by this,” Afghan Islamic cleric Mullah Sadullah Abu Aman told the Gulf Times yesterday, referring to the magazine’s retraction. “This is a decision by America to save itself. It comes because of American pressure. Even an ordinary illiterate peasant understands this and won’t accept it.”
Aman was the leader of a group of clerics who on Sunday threatened a jihad against the U.S. in three days unless it handed over the military interrogators reported to have desecrated the Quran.
He told reporters the call for a jihad still stood.