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Lyons: Local anti-Muslim blogger makes special list

By Staff writer, For Herald Tribune, On 29 September 2016, Read Original
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Retired Army officer turned anti-Muslim blogger Rich Swier isn’t exactly cowering or laying low despite the weird news he says he got from the FBI a few days ago.

His said his wife would prefer he not mention it — she urged him not to, actually — but he couldn’t help but write about it in his blog.

 

I don’t want to say he’s bragging, but maybe.

The big news from Sarasota’s most prolific Islam basher: He has made the ISIS hit list.

That’s not a chart showing their Top Ten favorites. Swier means he’s on the roster of people the violently extreme Muslim organization hopes some follower will murder.

Swier gave me the first name and phone number of the agent who told him so, but I didn’t succeed in getting anyone from the FBI to comment.

Still, why doubt it? ISIS has a long enemies list. Doesn’t take much to make it. Hate and murder is their thing. Swier said the agent told him he shares the list with about 8,000 others.

He is an obvious American of interest, given that he already been named by some anti-hate groups here as an outspoken and prolific Islamaphobe.

He’s earned the label. His online articles don’t just blast radical Islam and those who seemingly back or excuse terrorism. He goes after the entire religion and almost all of its followers.

 

With the exception of a few brave reformers, the Sarasota man says all Muslims secretly support spreading their religion by the sword. Islam is evil, period, he says.

One of his favorite, totally sincere comments, he said, explains the difference between a radical Muslim and all the others:

“A radical Muslim wants to behead you. A moderate Muslim wants a radical Muslim to behead you.”

Swier says he always keeps a gun handy, and lives in a gated community, and will be even more on guard now. But he says he told his wife that they can’t let threats scare them or make him curb his tongue.

“You can’t be afraid,” he said, because fear is what ISIS wants.

That’s one of the few things we agree on.

But here’s the funny thing, if anything about this stuff is funny: Swier blames an American pro-Muslim organization called CAIR for putting him in this spot.

 

Huh? Didn’t he work hard to put himself there?

CAIR, the Council on Islamic-American relations, is an advocacy group for American Muslims. It criticizes and spotlights anti-Muslim actions and words. Swier has blasted CAIR, implying it is secretly pro-terrorist, and CAIR has listed Swier as an obvious bigot.

But Swier told me the FBI should investigate how many people on CAIR’s bigot list end up on the ISIS hit list. Connection?

I asked a CAIR spokesman about that. Wilfredo Ruiz, CAIR’s legal counsel in Florida, said yeah, he knows of Swier but dislikes giving the man any publicity. The man’s making money by spreading hate, Ruiz said.

“He’s a bigot and an Islamaphobe and we can call him what he is,” Ruiz said. But ISIS hates lots of people, Ruiz said, including many good Muslims. CAIR has adamantly denounced ISIS, in part because of the Muslims it has killed.

So if Swier is really on the ISIS hit list, Ruiz said, he should note that he has company there, including one man announced in April.

That would be Nihad Awad, the executive director of CAIR. Awad is probably a lot higher on the ISIS list than the Sarasota blogger, Ruiz implied.

 

If so, that’s OK with Swier. When I told Swier that one thing he has going for him is that it could take a long time for ISIS supporters to work through an 8,000-name list, he laughed and agreed.

“I hope I’m 7,999.”

— Tom Lyons can be reached at tom.lyons@heraldtribune.com