The apologetics of the Middle East studies establishment has real-world consequences, one of which is expert testimony in trials. I will note here, from time to time, examples of how Middle East specialists are acquitting themselves.
- Tamara Sonn, professor of religion at The College of William and Mary, provided expert testimony for the defense in the trial of John Walker Lindh, the "American Talib." Sonn recounted her role in the trial:
"Since the Taliban believed they were fighting a war of self-defense against the Northern Alliance, they believed they were engaged in a jihad," Sonn said. "I was therefore asked to comment specifically on the nature and meaning of jihad." In addition, Sonn examined Lindh regarding "his understanding of Islam and jihad" … "I questioned him – and found that he seemed deeply devout and had a mainstream understanding of jihad as being of two kinds," Sonn said, citing both "‘greater jihad' – the ongoing struggle to become a better person" and "‘lesser jihad' – the military action, which is required in self-defense or in defense of those under attack."
Comment: This fits the pattern I established in "Jihad and the Professors," of U.S. Middle East specialists pretending that the well-known, centuries-old meaning of jihad ("the legal, compulsory, communal effort to expand the territories ruled by Muslims at the expense of territories ruled by non-Muslims") does not exist, replacing it instead with such apologetic pablum as "resisting apartheid or working for women's rights." (March 14, 2003)
- Anita Weiss, professor of international studies at the University of Oregon and specialist on Pakistan, provided expert testimony for the defense in the Lodi terrorism trial. The government accused Hamid Hayat of training in a terrorist camp and introduced a former Pakistani police chief, Hassan Abbas, who, according to a Los Angeles Times account, "said he had heard of a camp near Balakot that was affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammed and Azhar, the jihadi author whose books were found in Hayat's garage apartment." In reply, the defense had Weiss testify "that there were many religious camps in Pakistan that had nothing to do with terrorism but were more like Baptist summer camps in the United States." The jurors believed Abbas and Hayat was convicted. (May 1, 2006)