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White Trash Jihad: The Man behind Shariah4USA

A conference convened last month by the Islamic extremist group Hizb-ut Tahrir in Chicago cheered the fall of secular governments in the Middle East and the political rise of groups advocating for the re-imposition of Islamic law and the revival of the global caliphate, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The speakers at the conference also endorsed a similar program in the West, particularly America.

One of the attendees at the conference is doing his part to make that dream of Islamic rule in America a reality.

Devin Zentmyer, who also goes by his Islamic name Abu Amatullah, is a 24-year-old prison convert who operates the Shariah4USA Facebook page and the Shariah4USA YouTube account. His MyLife profile lists his current location as Leland, Illinois, about 70 miles southwest of Chicago. A January 2007 police blotter notes his arrest on three separate warrants in three different counties for attempted obstruction of justice, failure to appear, and possession of marijuana. A May 2007 blog entry on his MySpace page notes he was incarcerated at the time in the Kendall County Jail.

According to one of his relatives, it was during his incarceration that he converted to Islam, but has become increasingly radicalized since his release by associating with extremist imams and organizations in the area and online.

Zentmyer pushes his violent and Islamic supremacist agenda through his Facebook and YouTube websites. Included in his small network of friends on his YouTube channel was Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, who was arrested in June along with another associate for plotting a suicide terror attack on a Seattle area military facility.

In April, Zentmyer posted a video of himself on his Shariah4USA YouTube channel titled “Quik [sic] Message to Muslims in the U.S.” In the video, he is calling for Islamic law to be implemented in the U.S. and decrying the treatment of Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and “Lady al-Qaeda” Aafia Siddiqui. However, as soon as I began contacting Zentmyer’s friends and relatives, the YouTube video disappeared (we have reposted his video here at PJTV).

In the video, Zentmyer says:

Islam does not tell us to call for democracy. … What we are proposing to do is to become the first Muslim voices to come from within the United States to call against this democracy, to call against this hypocrisy, to call against the man-made law that is being implemented. We’re, inshallah, over the next period of time we hope to come out and call for the shariah to be implemented within the U.S. as well as the entire world working with the help of other groups around the world.

In one of his recent Facebook posts, he linked to a pdf copy of a book by Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj, The Absent Obligation, which establishes jihad as the sixth pillar of Islam, justifies the killing of apostate leaders, and recommends that Muslims infiltrate social and governmental institutions in anticipation of revolutionary jihad. Faraj issued the fatwa used by his group to assassinate Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and was executed for his role in the plot in April 1982. On Facebook, Zentmyer advocated the book as “true Islamic reading.” Other members have recently posted videos of al-Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki.

A four-minute video posted on his Shariah4USA YouTube account is titled “Dedicated to Shaikh Usama bin Laden ‘Winds of Change.’” Earlier this month he linked on the Facebook page another YouTube video of American traitor Omar Hammami (aka Abu Monsoor Al-Amriki) plotting attacks against Ethiopian troops while fighting with the Somali al-Shabaab terrorist group.

Zentmyer has apparently enlisted his wife in his cause. They were married in February 2009. On her Facebook page, Fatima Zentmyer (nee Kristyn Torres) counts among her friends the notorious Revolution Muslim leader Sheikh Faisal, who was jailed and later deported from the UK in May 2007 for inciting hatred against Jews, Hindus, and Westerners and now resides in his native Jamaica where U.S. diplomats have expressed concern about his influence there. No doubt her defenders will claim that most American suburban housewives associate themselves with international Islamic hate clerics.

And speaking of suburban housewives, Fatima Zentmyer also includes as a Facebook friend “Jihad Kathie” Smith, the Indianapolis grandmother who was the subject of a Fox News investigative report last December that cited Homeland Security officials who said that she was under investigation for her terrorist ties. Smith’s German jihadist husband was linked to several members of German terrorist cells and, more recently, Arid Uka, who gunned down two American soldiers on a military bus at the Frankfurt airport earlier this year.

Friends and relatives of the Zentmyers I spoke with expressed concern about their increasingly radicalized behavior. A Homeland Security official I also spoke with said that the pair represents a new disturbing trend of homegrown radicalization.

We are seeing an increasing number of lower class, poorly educated Americans being attracted to the global jihadist movement, what some are calling “white trash jihadists.” They are actively targeted by Islamic organizations for conversion, and once they get them online they get plugged into an international network where they quickly get recruited. And we saw with the “Jihad Jane” [Colleen LaRose] and “Jihad Jamie” [Paulin-Ramirez] cases that women can be recruited too.

In [Zentmyer’s] case, he probably converted in prison for protection. A small built, young guy like him would definitely need it. And he gets exposed to a virulent form of Islamic ideology, which we call “prison house Islam,” that is tailored to easily transition someone from the “thug” lifestyle to being a jihadist.

When he gets out, as a convict and a not-too-particularly bright individual, he doesn’t have a lot of options. And so the promise of being part of a global movement giving them some kind of meaning and identity is very appealing. Like any cult group, they’re given the keywords, phrases and Quranic verses that assure them that they possess the secret knowledge that marks a true believer. And when one act of jihad can absolve you of all your past sins and send you straight to heaven if you’re a martyr, these Islamic groups make an attractive offer that is hard to refuse.

In fact, on the same day I spoke with this official it was announced that two American-born prison converts, including one of Zentmyer’s YouTube friends, had been arrested in Seattle for plotting a terror attack on a U.S. military facility. And the Homeland Security official expressed fears that Devin Zentmyer may be intent on following their path:

You only need to read his statements online and watch his video to see that in his mind he’s already justified violence in the name of Islam. He’s totally bought into the ideology. And he’s moving in the online networks where people have already engaged in terror attacks. And you have people like Awlaki authorizing “lone wolf” attacks against American civilians. I don’t think he’s going to be another Zach Chesser who tries to board a plane to fight jihad with a terrorist group overseas. When he does something, he’s going to be another Nidal Hasan or Faisal Shahzad doing something right here at home.

In the end it doesn’t matter if we believe that they can actually replace the U.S. Constitution with Islamic law, it only matters if they believe it’s possible and are willing to act on that belief. Zentmyer has past that point.

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