Army Specialist Zachari Klawonn is upset. He claims that there is a campaign of hate aimed at him coming from his fellow soldiers. He says that he is especially upset at them referring to him as “terrorist.” Yet, if this truly upsets him as much as he contends it does, how can he then reconcile his turning to groups associated with terrorism, specifically CAIR and its Florida political front, UVA?
Klawonn has a disturbing duality about him. While he dons Army green camos adorned by the Stars and Stripes, prior to relocating from his Fort Hood digs, in his barracks prominently hung a black and white checkered keffiyeh, a symbol of anti-Western violence.
It is this duality that currently rules his life.
Klawonn, a 20-year-old Muslim, is intensely proud of his heritage. He flaunts his Islamic roots to a point which some could consider provocative. On his wall, next to his keffiyeh, was placed a 5’ x 3’ Moroccan flag. As well, his room contained a Qur’an (draped by his ‘dog tags’) and prayer rug, visible to all.
For Klawonn, his strong attachment to his religion was both a blessing and a curse – a curse because, according to him, others target him for it, calling him horribly offensive names. This was especially the case, following the massacre that took place at Fort Hood perpetrated by fellow Muslim soldier Nidal Malik Hasan.
On November 5, 2009, Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, opened fire at a soldier processing center (Soldier Readiness Facility), murdering 13 and injuring over 30 others. The victims of the attack were getting ready to be deployed overseas. At the time, Hasan, himself, was soon to be deployed to Afghanistan.
Hasan was shot four times and apprehended. Two other suspects were taken into custody and later released.
According to the Washington Post, in an article about Klawonn’s alleged troubles, Klawonn was heading to the scene of the shooting, when the shooting commenced. It states, “Klawonn was there, too… His unit had just returned from Korea and was headed to the site of the shootings, a soldier processing center, when the killing began.”
According to the piece, Klawonn was “pressed” to explain the “brutal act and extremist philosophy” of Hasan. Klawonn said that, while he did not “sympathize” with Hassan, he “secretly felt an understanding of at least some of the pressures Hasan faced.” According to reports, Hasan faced a similar type of treatment Klawonn is alleging himself.
Klawonn stated, “[W]hen I read about the discrimination he experienced, I have to say, I can believe it. It doesn't excuse what he did, but it explains maybe a tiny part of it. He was a high-ranking officer. A major. At that level, you demand respect…”
Since he enlisted, Klawonn has personally filed a number of complaints with his commanders about what he perceives as intolerant acts against him. He says that one of the toughest things he has had to endure is his fellow soldiers referring to him as “terrorist.” This is dubious, however, as Klawonn has begun to associate himself with groups connected to terrorism.
One of these groups is CAIR or the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
CAIR was founded by Hamas operatives in June 1994, and from 2007 through 2008, CAIR was named by the U.S. Justice Department a party to the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas.
Klawonn solicited CAIR to write a letter on his behalf to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, complaining of the Army’s treatment of him.
Another group Klawonn has gotten involved with is United Voices for America (UVA), an organization headed by the former Executive Director of CAIR-Tampa and former “unofficial spokesman” for convicted terrorist Sami al-Arian, Ahmed Bedier.
Klawonn, at the behest of his mother, Mina, attended one of UVA’s events this past March 11th. His mom had “collapsed in tears,” when she found out that he had joined the U.S. millitary, and his friends and mosque associates were more than concerned that he was “going to kill fellow Muslims,” so it was probably important to all of them for Klawonn to get involved in a radical Muslim group like UVA.
The event was titled Muslim Capitol Day, and it took place in Tallahassee, Florida. According to UVA, the purpose of it was to lobby the state legislature on such universal issues as education reform and stimulation of the economy, but overshadowing those alleged objectives were two separate assaults that were carried out during Muslim Capitol Day by one of UVA’s members, Bassem Alhalabi.
Alhalabi, who had previously been found guilty of shipping U.S. military equipment to Syria, was charged with one count of battery. A warrant was issued for Alhalabi’s arrest on March 19th, and on March 22nd, he was taken into custody by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Ironically, just as in the case of Klawonn being on his way to the soldier processing center when the Hasan massacre began, Klawonn was photographed next to Alhalabi at a UVA luncheon held shortly before Alhalabi’s attacks took place.
Of course, these things might be nothing more than mere coincidences – cases of being at the wrong place at the wrong time – but his recent experiences in high school were nothing of the sort.
In 2008, Klawonn wrote and performed rap songs with a group of teens from his hometown, Bradenton, Florida, which, according to a district spokesperson, “threatened bodily harm” and contained “mention of weapons.” One of the lyrics discussed “taking a knife” to a school administrator. Disciplinary action was taken against many of the participants.
Klawonn’s friends who were involved in making these songs were from Braden River High School, the school that Klawonn was expelled from one year earlier, after police discovered a gun in the car he was driving on campus.
All of this is a concern, as, according to the Washington Post, Klawonn is “at the top [of his unit] in weapons qualifications and is the only one in his battalion to be invited to try out for the Special Forces.” Furthermore, Klawonn suffers from bouts of depression and has had to see a psychiatrist at least six times since enlisting.
No doubt, all of this must give his superiors pause. Indeed, his Fort Hood commanders have stated that he fits a “similar mold” to terrorist Nidal Hasan.
Now, Klawonn says that he will devote the remaining two years he has committed to the Army to fight for the rights of Muslims in the military. That seems like a dangerous proposition, given his activity with pro-terror organizations. In the very least, CAIR and UVA will use him as a pawn to do lasting harm to the military.
Of course, no one wishes to discuss the worst case scenario…
Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate, the founder of CAIR Watch, and the spokesman for Young Zionists.
Beila Rabinowitz is the Director of Militant Islam Monitor.