Does a Saudi national count as a “white supremacist”? On Monday, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced that Bader Alzahrani, a Saudi national who is in the United States on a student visa, has been charged with stealing a school bus and transporting it across state lines. But this is more than just a vehicle theft: Alzahrani made a number of statements suggesting that he’s a jihad terrorist. But since Saudis are generally considered “white,” will the feds call this “white supremacist terrorism”? Don’t put it past them.
According to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey last Thursday, Alzahrani “knowingly and intentionally received, possessed, concealed, stored, and disposed of a motor vehicle, namely a 2020 Chevrolet School Bus.” Alzahrani is accused of stealing the bus in Essex County, N.J., and driving it into Pennsylvania, where he lives.
Far more ominously, however, an unoccupied residential home across the street from the parking lot from which the bus was stolen was broken into. A backpack was found in the broken-into house, containing Alzahrani’s Saudi passport and a number of “other items that appeared to belong to Alzahrani.” Among these items were journals that contained entries in both English and Arabic. The entries were hair-raising.
Alzahrani wrote: “Why didn’t you slaughter the police officer who threw the Quran?” And: “This is a war, and there will be losses, and collateral losses. … It is a war and y’all started, feel the rage.” The war he had in mind would be extremely bloody: “Destruction of the new world and the earth will be destroyed from all sides.” It was a religious war: “God I am ready for your orders. I want to live the rest of my life to serve you and the religion.” Alzahrani also wrote: “Blood, blood, destruction, destruction. Allah.”
Amid all this, Alzahrani had time to throw in a bit of antisemitism: “Jews control everything,” he wrote, and “F**k each and every Jewish person.” Unfortunately for the feds’ “white supremacist” hunters, he added: “F**k you privileged whitey.” According to the complaint, “the Journals also included entries concerning ‘Jihad’ and how Alzahrani did not intend to return to Saudi Arabia.” He also doesn’t seem to have placed a whole lot of emphasis on his studies, despite being in the United States on a student visa: “In or around October 2022, Alzahrani left the university in which he was enrolled and was reported missing.”
There is no indication in the criminal complaint against Alzahrani about what exactly he intended to do with his purloined school bus, or what connection, if any, the hate-filled and violent rants in his journals had to do with the bus theft. Nonetheless, anyone who could write the kinds of things that Alzahrani wrote clearly had malign intentions that would likely have manifested themselves in some form before he returned to his homeland. We can be grateful that all Alzahrani did was steal a bus, and that no one got hurt in the process. Nevertheless, this incident should make American authorities reexamine some of their basic assumptions, although that’s about as likely as the Democrats running a Trump-DeSantis ticket in 2024.
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It is virtually certain that when Bader Alzahrani applied for his student visa, no one asked him what he thought about Jews, or jihad, or anything related to “blood, blood, destruction, destruction. Allah.” To have done so would have been considered “Islamophobic,” and American officials of the post-9/11 era have been skillfully trained to abhor even the appearance of “Islamophobia.”
Yet in pretending that “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism,” as Hillary Clinton so memorably put it in November 2015, and that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence,” as Pope Francis claimed in November 2013 (is November “Let’s Lie About Islam Month”?), American law enforcement and intelligence officials are doing American citizens a disservice and exposing them to danger. Yes, of course, not all Muslims are terrorists, but when someone such as Bader Alzahrani comes from the land of fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers, a place where the jihad ideology is widely held, American officials should not be so pollyannish. This time, authorities caught the jihadi in time. We can only hope that they’ll always be so lucky.