Exclusive: Afghan Insurgents Use Planned Koran Burning to Turn Villagers Against U.S.

Pamphlets show up in embattled province decrying Terry Jones' planned Koran burn

September 09, 2010, 10:14 AM

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan Sept. 9, 2010— -- Insurgents in Afghanistan are trying to inflame villagers against the U.S. by passing out leaflets that detail plans by a Florida minister to ignite a bonfire of Korans this weekend.

News of the pamphlets came just days after Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, warned that the planned Koran burning by Pastor Terry Jones could enrage Muslims and endanger U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It also came as leaders of Pakistan, Indonesia and India called on the U.S. take actions to prevent Jones from desecrating the Islamic holy book.

The pamphlets, found in Afghanistan's embattled Logar province, are the most direct evidence that Jones' planned bonfire is posing international problems for the U.S. and its soldiers.

"Shocking News," reads the top of the pamphlet that was translated for ABC News.

It compared Jones' "International Burn a Koran Day" to the "Draw a Cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed Day" last May, which was also seen an insult to the religion since it is considered a desecration to lampoon the prophet or to depict him in any way.

"This time these people have decided, once again, to insult our religion, our Koran, and our holy sites... your religion is in danger and the day has arrived that Islam wants us to become united!" the pamphlet states. "We must raise our voices, fight together, and strike a hard blow to the mouth of stinking pigs to knock them down!"

"Let others know, before it becomes too late, to spread this message... Only God knows if there will be another such an opportunity to defend our religion and Koran," it states.

A military officer told ABC News in an email that the distribution of the pamphlet began on Sept. 7.

"Our assessment is that the insurgents here in Logar, Province Afghanistan are seizing on the opportunity of the Florida Koran-burning story to rally a portion of the ambivalent population in our area to conduct attacks against our forces. The reality on the ground is this: the Koran-burning event scheduled for 11 SEP 10 in Florida has thestrong possibility of resulting in the injury or even death of coalition forces and possibly Afghan civilians here in our area of operations as a result," the officer warned.

Gen. Petreaus' Fresh Warning on Koran Burning

Petreaus was blunter and told ABC News today that the fiery minister's bonfire of Korans could "endanger the lives of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens who are deployed around the world... in Islamic countries."

The general said pictures and videos of Jones' protest could have long lasting effects.

"This could provide indelible images, images that in an internet age will be non-biodegradable. They will always be in cyberspace and available for extremists to use to incite and inflame public opinion against our troopers and civilians," Petreaus said.

In the relatively peaceful western province of Balkh, a leading Muslim cleric warned "a big protest will be held if the Koran burning proceeds. Abdul Hadi Rostaqi, a member of the cleric council in Afghanistan's Balkh province, said the protest would be held in Mazar-i-Sharif next Monday, one of the country's main centers of Islamic teaching.

Leaders of the world's largest Muslim populations deplored Jones' plans to burn copies of the Koran.

A spokesman for Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari said that "anyone who even thought of such a despicable act must be suffering from a diseased mind and a sickly soul."

He warned that it will inflame sentiments among Muslims throughout the world and called for doing all that it takes to stop it.

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said efforts to build ties with the U.S. "will be useless" if the burn goes ahead as planned.

And India banned any images of the burning if it proceeds.ABC News Habibullah Khan contributed to this report

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