A consortium of tea partiers, patriot groups and other conservative activists gathered in a private dining room at a seafood restaurant in Kernersville on Thursday evening for a presentation on a supposed Muslim plot to conquer the United States.
The 20 or so people who attended the meeting at Captain Tom’s Seafood needed little convincing from presenter Tom Jones, who soldiered through frequent interruptions about supposed Muslim treachery paired with testimonials about preparedness for violent confrontation and even expressions of readiness to kill Muslims.
“Do you have any recommendations as to how we could stop this?” asked Frank del Valle, a Winston-Salem resident whose Facebook page identifies him as a retired federal employee and native of Cuba, near the end of the hourlong presentation. “Because my only recommendation is to start killing the hell out them.”
Del Valle’s outburst spurred a variety of responses from the group.
Robert Goodwill, who identified himself as a member of the national security advocacy group Act for America, took an optimistic tack with the recent election of Donald Trump, adding, “We’re on our way.”
Another man, who did not identify himself, said, “I want to start doing something instead of talking about it all the time.” He added, “I’m in a group. I’m not going to tell you what group I’m in.”
“Talking is going to start the conversation,” Jones insisted. “We all have to find a way to proceed. This is my way of contributing.”
Del Valle said his views on Islam have been shaped by his longstanding opposition to the Castro regime in Cuba.
“I’m the kind of guy — my country was lost to the communists,” he said. “For a long time I saw how they achieved that. And the Muslims are doing the exact same thing. So I am very aware of that. I have been talking about that for a long time.”
Goodwill continued to try to talk del Valle down, arguing that the tide is turning.
“Political correctness is being thrown away,” he said. “A lot of people are meeting like this. We’re making progress in the positive direction.” He argued for supporting reformers in the Muslim faith, adding, “We need to talk about how we can get things done peacefully. Be ready for the worst.”
“I am beyond that point,” del Valle replied. “I’m ready to start taking people out.”
“I can understand that,” Goodwill said. “But we’re not there yet.”
Earlier in the presentation, del Valle quipped, “Shed some blood, too,” in response to Jones’ call to “shed some light” on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Del Valle declined a request for an interview to clarify his comments late Friday.
A percussionist, del Valle is a founding member of West End Mambo, a renowned Latin jazz and dance group based in Winston-Salem, but is no longer listed as an official member of the group.
“I’ve known Frank for a long time, but it’s always about music,” said Cesar Oviedo, West End Mambo’s musical director and arranger. “I never engaged with him in any political conversations. I can see that he sympathizes with right-wing stuff on Facebook.”
Del Valle’s comments about “killing the hell” out of Muslims were preceded by a warning from Jones about that the true danger to the United States is not necessarily al-Qaida, ISIS and other outwardly extremist groups that carry out spectacular acts of violence that garner widespread media coverage. People should be more concerned about Muslims who appear to be moderate and integrated into American society, he said.
The focus of his presentation centered on the Muslim Brotherhood, a culturally conservative organization founded in Egypt in 1928 that has established branches throughout the Middle East and North Africa, with members also emigrating to Europe and the United States. One of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood’s international organization, known as the Tanzeem, an Egyptian named Youssef Nada, established a bank that was accused of financing al-Qaida by the US Treasury. The focal point of suspicion against the organization is the discovery during a 2001 police raid in Switzerland of a 1982 document known as “The Project,” which was the subject of 2012 documentary by the same name produced by conservative media personality Glenn Beck.
“Some commentators have portrayed this document as evidence of the Brotherhood’s sinister project to take over the Western world,” Alison Pargeter, an expert in North Africa and the Middle East, wrote in her book The Muslim Brotherhood: The Burden of Tradition.
The 12 points in the document include the pledges: “To use diverse and varied surveillance systems, in several places, to gather information and adopt a single effective warning system serving the worldwide Islamic movement, and “To reconcile international engagement with flexibility at the local level.”
Pargeter wrote, “In spite of the allegations, this document is a fairly mundane wish list and would appear to be largely an expression of intent that reflects the ambitions and optimism of the time.”
The author told Triad City Beat in an email: “For my part, this document has been completely overblown and the idea that the [Muslim Brotherhood] has some sort of plan to Islamicize and take over the West is ridiculous in the extreme.”
Reading from notes on a yellow legal pad in the dining hall at Captain Tom’s, Tom Jones outlined a set of charges that wove mundane day-to-day happenstance with unsubstantiated claims about Muslim subversion of the American court system.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is behind all that terrorism and violent acts, but they’re also here operating in America in a very stealthy mode,” he said. “They’ve infiltrated the judiciary. They have judges that are elected to the bench. These judges are expected to make rulings from the bench here in America according to sharia law even though it’s not a sharia court. If you’ve got a Muslim judge he’s required to try you under sharia law. These people are in high positions of influence often behind the scenes in government, academia, medicine, the media. How many of you have been to a hospital and seen the doctors that are running around in the hospital?”
“Yeah,” one of the guests at Captain Tom’s Seafood replied. “They’re not American.”
“These people start Islamic organizations,” Jones continued. “They build mosques. They build Islamic schools. They work with the progressive left in this country to advance their own agenda. And the progressive left like Obama and Hillary Clinton and that ilk, they’re all tied into this Brotherhood stuff. The Brotherhood helps them and they help the Brotherhood.”
Midway through his talk about so-called “cultural jihad” or “stealth jihad,” Jones was interrupted by a cascade of commentary from the group.
“I don’t know if everyone knows this, but the person who organized the Women’s March is Muslim — believes in sharia law,” said Robert Watkins, a former North Carolina field director for the Koch brothers-backed Americans For Prosperity who is active with the evangelical voter mobilization group Faith and Freedom Coalition, according to his Facebook page. Linda Sarsour, one of the organizers of the Women’s March who is Muslim, spoke on the same night during a panel discussion at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.
“All those women who showed up in DC who appear to be mainstream and supported her, raved about how she’s so great don’t realize that she’s the same one who agrees with sharia law and will be person who stands beside ’em and also the same person who slices their neck,” Watkins said.
Watkins went on to mention US Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of US Congress who is a candidate to lead the Democratic National Committee.
“He is trying to assimilate others to the culture,” Watkins said. “That’s what Keith Ellison is doing. That’s why he didn’t take an Arabic name.”
An unidentified man in the audience chimed in: “Just as an aside, Keith Ellison’s brother is the chair of the Forsyth County Democratic Party.”
“Wow!” another man exclaimed. “Are you serious?”
“It’s here,” Jones said. “It’s in this town.”
Eric Ellison, the local Democratic Party chair, said on Friday that he wasn’t surprised to learn there was a group in the local area that was so violently opposed to Islam.
“It’s a little bit scary that they speak of violence and committing murder in open forums,” he said. “I guess we realize that terrorists come in all forms and fashions.”
During his presentation, Tom Jones made assertions about “training centers” operated by the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States since the early 1980s digressed into an open discussion about mosques in Winston-Salem and the surrounding area, including Annoor Islamic Center in Clemmons.
“They’re already operating a madrassah there,” Jones said. “That all happened under the radar. The way I understand that that mosque happened is they had an American guy, a white guy buy that property. It was supposed to be a church. Guess what? He sold it to some Muslims to build a mosque there. Now they’re operating a madrassah.”
Another guest, who is unidentified, noted that there is a mosque on Waughtown Street in Winston-Salem, referencing the Community Mosque of Winston-Salem.
“There’s mosques being built all over the place,” Jones said, attempting to get the presentation back on track. “We’ve got to keep our eye on them.”
While del Valle was the only person at the meeting who explicitly advocated violence, others emphasized preparedness.
Elizabeth Hawkins, who attended the meeting with her husband, Mike, said they don’t call themselves a “militia,” but rather “patriots” or “preppers.” The Hawkins and other members in Yadkin County had previously conducted firearms training twice a month, but are now down to one day a month. They also operate ham radios and are interested in learning to sew up wounds. Hawkins also said her group vets prospective members before allowing them to join.
“We continue to prepare ourselves,” Hawkins said. “Even though things have kind of smoothed out with Trump, I still think we’re headed for a big fallout with the money issue.”
Jones repeatedly chided the audience to get serious.
“I don’t know how you say ‘deep doo-doo’ in Arabic, but we’re in it,” Jones concluded. “We’re in deep doo-doo, ya’ll. This is serious stuff. This is not games. These people do not play. If I put a gun to your head and ask you what you believe, you may not be able to tell, but I guarantee you these people can tell you what they believe.”
Del Valle had a ready reply: “I’ll shoot ’em before they can ask me.”
UPDATE: Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says the organization “will be issuing a call for a state and federal probe of the calls to violence.” (Saturday, Feb. 18, 10:21 a.m.)
Full audio of a presentation by Tom Jones on “Islamicizing America” at Captain Tom’s Seafood in Kernersville, Feb. 16, 2017 (1 hour 10 minutes 2 seconds)
9:39 — Discussion about Rep. Keith Ellison
10:10 — “Just as an aside, Keith Ellison’s brother is the chair of the Forsyth County Democratic Party”
30:35 — “We could not have this meeting if Hillary were elected.”
30:57 — Discussion about former CIA Director John Brennan
32:41 — Discussion about how supposedly Barack Obama can lie without shame
33:07 — “… the person who organized the Women’s March is Muslim…”
37:56 — Additional discussion about Rep. Ellison
48:48 — “We all know that Obama’s Muslim…”
51:11 — “Shed some blood, too.”
55:43 — Discussion about Annoor Islamic Center in Clemmons
57:31 — Discussion about Community Mosque of Winston-Salem
58:00 — Discussion about Nation of Islam
1:01:57 — “The Muslim Brotherhood is behind all that terrorism and violent acts…”
1:03:26 — “Do you have any recommendations as to how we can stop this?”
1:03:48 — Discussion about Rep. Virginia Foxx’s son in law
1:04:15 — “I want to start doing something instead of talking about it all the time.”
1:04:33 — “I am beyond that point.”
1:09:04 — “I don’t know how you say ‘deep doo-doo’ in Arabic…”