Ex-terrorist tells story at First Baptist Church

By Allison Tahmoush: CNJ Correspondent

An ex-terrorist abandons Islam for Christianity after meeting his current wife, a Catholic from Mexico.
It sounds like the tagline to a bad movie.

Walid Shoebat knows this all too well. He is the main character, and it’s not a movie.

Born in Bethlehem, Shoebat was brought up in a world of hatred. Taught martyrdom was the most honorable way to die, Shoebat devoted his life to Palestine. As a young man he served under Yassar Arafat in the Palestinian Liberation Organization, he said. There he learned to wage jihad against all non-Muslims, participating in bombings and attacks on innocent Jews, he said.

The reformed PLO terrorist will give three lectures today at the First Baptist Church about what he sees as the truth behind terrorism.

After his current wife challenged him to prove the Jews had corrupted the Bible, Shoebat began to question everything he had been taught. He was unable to find evidence in the Bible of any wrong the Jews had done to his people, and by 1993 he was convinced violence against the Jews was not the answer to preserving Palestine.

Today, a U.S. citizen and Christian for nearly 14 years, Shoebat seeks forgiveness and understanding for his actions. As founder of the Walid Shoebat Foundation, he works to raise awareness about what he believes is the truth behind terrorism.

“The foundation works as an advocacy group to expose the real truth about terrorism and where it comes from, what it means,” said Keith Davies, head of the Walid Shoebat Foundation. “Terrorism and hatred have been going on for years, and it’s just coming out in the mainstream media now.”

Shoebat is also the author of several books, including most recently “Why We Want to Kill You.” The semi-autobiographical book details how terrorism is learned and practiced.

As a convert to Christianity, Shoebat was disowned by his family. His brother even threatened to kill him for denouncing Islam.

“We invited him because we are trying to educate people on Islam and the culture,” said Steve Cloud, student pastor at First Baptist Church. “Because there are not a lot of Muslims in the area, people don’t always understand the impact of terrorism. As a former terrorist, Mr. Shoebat will be able to give us a good idea of this.”

Shoebat is the second in a series of speakers at First Baptist Church. In March, Emir Caner spoke about his experiences converting from Muslim to Christianity.

“We hope to continue this series with other folks that know about Islam because it is so fast growing. Mr. Shoebat will be able to give us perspective on the Muslim extremist side,” Cloud said.

Fast facts

What: Lecture series

Who: Former PLO terrorist Walid Shoebat

Where: First Baptist Church, Grand Avenue and Gidding Street

When: 9:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 6:30 p.m. today

Information: 762-2962 or www.fbcclovis.org.