You've got to hand it to the Post for being the first local paper to do its due diligence and cover both sides of last week's Fort Hood massacre. In the kind of story that simultaneously riles up its readers and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of some journalistic basics — akin to quoting the Grinch for fairness in an article about Christmas tree sales — the tabloid today gives ink to a lone Queens man who thinks that Major Nidal Hasan did the right thing when he opened fire inside the Texas base last week, killing 13 and wounding 38. "An officer and a gentleman was injured while partaking in a pre-emptive attack," Yousef al-Khattab wrote on his website, "Revolution Muslim." "Rest assured the slain terrorists at Ft. Hood are in the eternal hellfire."
The paper sat down with the "America-hater" at a Woodside café and discussed his nuanced perspective. "These people are soldiers in a volunteer army. They expect to see combat. They know the danger." The Jewish-born al-Khattab apparently spends much of his free time "annoying mainstream Muslims in front of mosques around the city, handing out literature and denouncing the US" — a hobby that has angered local imams. "They say that as long as there is not a physical threat, there's nothing that they can do … They say it's a free-speech issue," said Shamsi Ali, an imam at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, a mosque at 96th Street and Third Avenue.
Though the FBI is aware of al-Khattab's rhetoric, the agency can't stop him. "It's terrible. It's reprehensible. For the mosques it's a p.r. nightmare. He's probably putting members of the mosque in danger from attacks from non-Muslims, but he's not breaking the law," a first amendment lawyer said. In fact, the city's only weapon against such irrelevant fringe discourse is to ignore it altogether — a strategy that has now backfired thanks to the Post's article.