Commentary: Kamal Saleem's tales of terrorism don't jibe

Kansas City Star columnist Mary Sanchez
Kansas City Star columnist Mary Sanchez MCT

Forrest Gump of the Middle East is the questionable keynote speaker at the Independence mayor’s prayer breakfast.

Wherever Islamic terrorism reigned, the now-Christian Kamal Saleem claims to have been there, waging jihad on Israel, the Soviets, and later, America.

Born in Lebanon, Saleem says he was on missions for Yasser Arafat by the age of 7, a tiny tool of the Palestine Liberation Organization; by 15, an explosives expert and trainer of international terrorists for Moammar Gadhafi.

Along with fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, the palaces of Saudi sheikhs and Saddam Hussein also figure into his fantastical narrative.

Now a popular speaker on the tea party and evangelical circuits, he preaches how extremist Muslims are a significant threat to take over America through “cultural jihad.”

Middle East and religious scholars have long said many of Saleem’s historical references and understanding of militant Islam simply don’t add up.

So, if he sounds to you like an odd choice for an interfaith event, congratulations! You have more common sense than the committee that chose him and the mayor who declined to press for a new speaker.

It takes little digging to see he’s been accused of being a fraud for years. And it’s not due to anti-Christian sentiment or political correctness, as Saleem’s supporters contend.

You want daffy? He was quoted this summer telling a tea party gathering that President Barack Obama is covertly turning the nation to Islamic law.

Oddly, neither the Department of Homeland Security nor the FBI expresses interest in this ex-terrorist who says he shuttled weapons over the Canadian border.

Saleem is fuzzy on corroborating information for his escapades. We’re missing trivial details like the Midwestern town where he relocated after coming to the United States to organize terror cells or the hospital records from the traffic accident that broke his neck. The name of the orthopedic surgeon who welcomed this terrorist to recover in his home and paid the hospital bills? Nope. Sorry.

What he does share are the details involving his conversion to Christianity, how the doctor and others who helped him were devout Christians.

Google YouTube for his recounting of how Jesus appeared to him.

Members of the Muslim community will attend the breakfast. Many are doctors and engineers, U.S. citizens whose lives debunk the theory that hordes of Muslims are plotting to indoctrinate America with extremism.

Let me make a suggestion for Saleem, from the Roman Catholic faith that I was raised in — confession. It’s a way to come clean with the truth in the eyes of God.