In many ways, America is a nation that believes in forgiveness. Our justice system is predicated on the belief that a human being is redeemable, and it’s not hard to find countless examples of convicted criminals who have gone on to live productive, peaceful, and sometimes extraordinary lives.
There’s no problem with forgiveness.
The problem, though, is that people use forgiveness – intentionally and unintentionally – to excuse stupidity. This is another matter. Even in a community of pacifists, no one would applaud the man who stood by while his wife was attacked. No one celebrates the man who uses pacifism as an excuse for cowardice. And no one should celebrate the fool who uses forgiveness as an excuse to do something foolish.
That’s what Seamus Hughes of George Washington University is doing by hiring Jesse Morton, aka Younus Abdullah Muhammad, for employment at the school’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security.
Muhammad was arrested by the FBI in 2012, at which time he pleaded guilty to “using his position as a leader of the Revolution Muslim Organization’s Internet sites to conspire to solicit murder, make threatening communications, and use the Internet to place others in fear.”
Muhammad’s spirited support for Islamic jihadism may not have directly resulted in the deaths of Americans, but the charges were enough to nab him an 11 year sentence for making threats and inspiring (thwarted) plots against the United States.
From the NY Daily News coverage of the sentence:
Morton’s site inspired a variety of would-be jihadis, including “Jihad Jane” Colleen LaRose; Antonio Benjamin Martinez, who plotted to bomb a military recruiting station; and Jose Pimental, who plotted to assassinate members of the U.S. military returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. He also corresponded with American al-Qaida member Samir Khan on writing an article for use as al-Qaida propaganda.
All of this came to light after the fact, though. Muhammad found himself in the FBI’s crosshairs when his associate – Zachary Chesser – posted the home addresses of the “South Park” creators on the RMO website and put out a thinly-veiled call to action. The two were incensed about the show’s disrespect of Islam, but their public rhetoric went too far. Both of them tried to flee the country; Chesser was arrested at the airport, but Muhammad got all the way to Morocco. There, he was arrested a year later and brought to justice.
Last year, after serving as an FBI informant, Muhammad was released. Now, he’s one of the “good guys,” working for one of the nation’s top counter-terrorism research facilities.
His new boss said he would bring a “unique perspective” to the job.
“We haven’t figured out how to reach that individual who’s going down the path of radicalization,” Hughes told CNN. “Jesse has been in that world and got out of that world.”
Yeah, well, that’s the thing. Did he get out of that world?
Or is he bringing that world into ours?