A.k.a. Khodor Shami (real name)
That evangelical fundies aren’t always deeply concerned with honesty should come as a shock to nobody. Kamal Saleem, for instance, is one of several “ex-terrorists” (Walid Shoebat is another) who claims to have been involved in islamist terror activities but saw the errors of his ways and is currently touring the religious right circus complaining about the evils of the Quran. In particular, Saleem claims to have been recruited by the PLO in Beirut in 1964 or 1965, four years before it was established in Lebanon, and ten before it was deployed to Beirut. Indeed, he claims to have been part of the Muslim Brotherhood at the same time (of course, his audience will probably not be aware that PLO and the Muslim Brotherhood were archrivals) and have met most of the most high-profile figures in the Middle East at the time. His fictitious backstory is ridiculous enough for one reviewer to dub him the “Forrest Gump of the Middle East.” Indeed, entirely according to himself, Saleem used to be important enough for the Muslim Brotherhood to put a $25 million bounty on his head, and he claims that there have been attempts to earn it: After a 2007 speaking event in California, for instance, he claims to have returned to his hotel to find his room ransacked and a band of dangerous Middle Easterners on his trail. He describes calling the police to alert them to an assassination attempt, though local law enforcement has no record of any such incident. We suppose you are supposed to blame a conspiracy backed by the pro-shariah government of the US.
Saleem used to work for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network – CBN continued to use him as a source even after his back story was revealed as fraud – and was hired by Focus on the Family in 2003, before launching his own ministry, Koome Ministries, in 2006 to “expose the true agenda of [Muslims] who would deceive our nation and the free nations of the world ... America must wake-up and set a continued Christian agenda of Liberty and Truth as a standard to follow throughout the free world,” and embarking upon a lucrative career posing as an ex-terrorist. He has in recent years managed to become something of a mainstay in the religious right circus ring; his participation in The Call‘s “Dearborn Awakening” section – long after his fictitious backstory had been exposed – where he told rally attendees that he is descended from the “Grand Wazir of Islam” (a title that doesn’t exist in Islam) and urged attendees to pray for Muslims to convert to Christianity, is a typical example.
While preparing for his The Call appearance, Saleem also said that President Obama planned “to break down Article 6” of the Constitution in order to enforce “Islamic law,” warning that “if he breaks this, the Sharia law will be supreme in America.” Not only is this of course deranged nonsense, Saleem is also, ironically enough, closely affiliated with explicitly dominionist groups like Transformation Michigan that are themselves fighting tooth and claw to overturn Article 6.
Creeping shariah law is a mainstay of Saleem’s unhinged rants (we won’t even try to sum up this maelstrom of paranoid delusions). In 2012, Saleem claimed to have uncovered a liberal plot to use the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade to “bring Sharia law liberally in our face”. The formulations do admittedly suggest that he is poking fun at a paranoid audience, but the sum of evidence show that it is most likely an instance of unhinged insanity. He didn’t offer any details concerning howRoe v. Wade would lead to the implementation of shariah law, but did call it an “Islamic clause”. He doesn’t seem to know very much about Islam. Oh, and according to Saleem, the Obama administration didn’t merely wish to let Shariah law replace the constitution; it also sought to legalize terrorism through immigration reform – again there is a certain lack of detail, but apparently immigration reform means that “all the illegal Muslims will be legalized here” which entails that “terrorism will be legal.” President Obama was apparently also “sending millions to Hamas to import Muslim people” to the U.S. as part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot. The military is also involved: “many generals who swore to destroy the United States of America are generals in the United States”. Then he warned that “this world will become past tense and one day we’ll be wearing ragheads.” Apparently it all has something to do with the UN Resolution 16/18, which reaffirms “freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression” and opposes religious discrimination, and which will ostensibly force the church to “go underground” and thus impose Islam on everyone (or something). Let us at least all agree that there is something here that doesn’t quite add up.
In 2014, Saleem caught President Obama red-handed, having figured out that Obama secretly wanted ISIS to attack the United States so that he could declare martial law, cancel the next election and become a dictator. And while waiting for the bombs, Obama was waging jihad and helping fundamentalist islamists to take over America with abortion and gay rights, two things fundamentalist Islamists are not known to be particularly fond of, but it is probably all a false flag. We should consider ourselves lucky that Saleem and fellow conspiracy theorists were there to expose the plot. Saleem also revealed that the Obama family was in fact secretly attending mosques every Christmas; he established this by the powers of speculations, which works better for him than facts (what good are they? Factswon’t fit his narrative. Come on!)
Of course, having been exposed as a fraud carries little significance in wingnut circles. In 2012, for instance, the tea party group Constituting Michigan brought Saleem to Allegan High School to warn guests of the danger of creeping sharia law. Responding to criticism of the event Bill Sage, one of the co-founders of Constituting Michigan, dismissed it as “the result of media bias”. It is not clear what piece of criticism that response was supposed to address, but we are also under no illusion that Sage has ever worried about truth, accuracty, honesty or accountability. Dave Agema was also scheduled to speak at the event. Here is the American Decency Association’s attempt to defend Saleem. It is oddly telling.
Indeed, the same year Saleem was also given a platform at the Values Voter Summit, where he entertained audiences with tall tales of his work for Lebanon, Syria, the PLO, Libya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Brotherhood and even Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, until he moved to the U.S. to wage “cultural jihad;” there he and his fellow terrorists “met the professors” at American universities and colleges – “our playgrounds” – and helped “the professors to establish new curriculum purposefully” to brainwash students to change “your children to hit your nation with everything they’ve got” (currently “45 percent of Common Core is Islamic indoctrination”; how he arrived at the figure is left open.) He also claimed that Hillary Clinton was working with Islamic countries to eviscerate the Constitution and “subjugate American people to be arrested and put to jail and their churches and synagogues shut down,” which he says would happen “early next year!” 2013 came and passed without subjugation, but the religious right has never turned their back on a false prophet. He made similar claims about Clinton in 2016, and in 2017 he repeated his warnings that the Democrats are plotting to let Muslim terrorists take over America. Mat Staver, for instance, still seems impressed.
Saleem has also produced anti-Islamic videos for the Oak Initiative. His fake backstory is laid out in his virulently anti-Islamic book The Blood of Lambs, which has been reviewed as “obsessively, sadistically violent.” He usually responds to criticism of his claims by accusing critics, including a Christian professor at Calvin College, of being Muslim Brotherhood agents working in cohorts with an Islamic “shadow government” that has formed an “unholy alliance” against him: “Today we the enemy of Islam, the liberal movement, the socialist movement, the communist movement, the women movement, Cod Pink, all of them are coming against me, the Occupy, all of these are coming against me.They have unholy alliances together with Islam, whether it’s homosexual or baby-killer, all these have unholy alliances.” Coherence is not his strong suit.
Saleem emphasized the same confluence of isms on Alex Jones’s show in 2016: “the isms are coming together: Islamism, socialism, secularism, fascism, liberalism, secularism, all of them are part of the ism movement for the Last Days and they are united together for a one-world order” and “world government”.
There is a decent Kamal Saleem resource here.
Diagnosis: First time you encounter him, you’d probably conclude that he is a professional liar, but it seems pretty likely to us that he just isn’t able to distinguish reality from feverishly incoherent imaginations. Completely and utterly batshit crazy.