Tom Jones, a soft-spoken man with white hair and wearing a slate-gray jacket, held up a copy of The Terrorist Next Door by the conservative author Erick Stakelbeck in the private dining room of a seafood restaurant in Kernersville, North Carolina, on a recent Thursday evening.
Reading from the text, Jones recited to about 20 of his fellow hard-right activists: “[Muslim] Brotherhood-linked organizations are establishing networks throughout the Bible belt.” Turning his head from right to left, he paused for dramatic effect and remarked: “I think that’s where we live.”
“A tactic that the Brotherhood has established over the years is establishing the presence of Islamic centers or mosques, which for them means a recruitment center for jihad, and forming a permanent foundation wherever they’re allowed to exist,” Jones said, continuing to read from Stakelbeck’s book.
“Can we not kill them all?” asked Frank Del Valle about 15 minutes into the presentation. A staunchly anticommunist Cuban immigrant, del Valle repeatedly interrupted Jones with comments about killing Muslims—with little or no pushback from the others in the room.
Throughout the presentation, guests excitedly discussed two area mosques, along with the chairman of the local Democratic party, who is the brother of U.S. congressman Keith Ellison—the first Muslim member of Congress and a former candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Revelations about the violent talk spread rapidly through North Carolina’s Muslim community. Abdullah Antepli, the Muslim chaplain at Duke University, said, “When they hear someone talk about killing Muslims, they know that could happen to any of their loved ones. When they hear about that meeting, it just brings up the maximum level of fear.”
“I don’t know what I will tell them,” Antepli said. “I don’t know what the comforting message is. This needs to be taken absolutely seriously. The response from law enforcement has been very disappointing, to say the least.”