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Terrorists in Them, Thar, Heartland Malls

Reported by Chrish - December 10, 2006 -


John Kasich devoted a good part of Heartland yesterday 12/9/06 to the space shuttle launch, but before lift-off he did manage to include a segment which shows that the Fox fear factor is still alive and well. While “Jingle Bells” was playing in the background, John said “we now turn to terror in the Heartland. 22 year old Derrick Shareef, an American-born Muslim convert, planned to use hand grenades to kill shoppers in the mall before Christmas. It’s unbelievable.” (Comment: scared yet?)

John’s guest for this segment was Robert Strang, a terrorism expert and (not indicated on the chyron) a principal in Investigative Management Group. Kasich began by noting that “the authorities are downplaying” the Shareef incident. (Comment: because it appears that there’s not much there, there –even Drudge has taken it off his webpage.) Strang replied that “the biggest security problems are right here at home” because of “radicalized terrorists that pop out of nowhere.” He said that the government is on the job, citing the effectiveness of the investigation of the alleged Miami terrorist cell. (Comment: once again, not much there, either.)

While half the screen showed a scene (could have been straight out of Fellini) of Wal*Mart employees forming a cordon at the entrance to the store and clapping as the first holiday shoppers rushed in, Strang said that “Al-Qaida and the terrorists look at malls, the season, and the reason for the holiday and know that a lot of people are out and what it stands for in America.”

Kasich referred to Shareef as a “lone wolf/nutjob” and asked Strang what could be done - to which Strang responded that people need to “come forward” if they think they see suspicious activity. Kasich referred to an article “I think it was out of Manchester, somewhere, I think it was Connecticut that said that the malls were training on security issues.” (Comment: could he be any less specific or rambling?) Strang affirmed that malls were doing more training on security, but that individuals need to report whatever seemed unusual. He gave as an example “if a car or truck is parked in front of a building that’s not normally there.” (Comment: how the heck am I supposed to know what trucks or cars should be at the mall?) Another thing worth reporting, according to Strang, are “people pacing back and forth and acting abnormal.” (Comment: during the holiday season, that describes lots of shoppers!)

John thanked Mr. Strang for his commentary about terrorists especially the “part about them attacking our value system more than shoppers.” (Comment: while Strang did say that terrorists might take advantage of the logistics and sentiment about Christmas, he made no inferences regarding attacks on “our value system.”)

Comment: Shareef wasn’t connected to any terrorists, he didn’t have any hand grenades – all he had to barter with were two stereo speakers. Like the Miami group, he had no means with which to do anything. His ramblings about Jihad could be manifestations of mental illness. While law enforcement was correct to respond to someone with the potential for violence, the link with terrorism is just not there, but FOX uses any and all opportunities to reinforce the notion that their viewers need to be scared – particularly by those who are Muslim. If you are different, in the homogenized FOX Heartland, FOX has its eyes on you.