“Houston Rapper Fired As Baggage Screener,” from AP, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
HOUSTON — When Bassam Khalaf raps, he’s the Arabic Assassin. His unreleased CD, “Terror Alert,” includes rhymes about flying a plane into a building and descriptions of himself as a “crazy, suicidal Arabic … equipped with bombs.”
Until last week, Khalaf also worked as a baggage screener at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
“I’ve been screening your bags for the past six months, and you don’t even know it,” said Khalaf, who also said Thursday that he is not really a terrorist and that his rhymes are exaggerations meant to gain publicity.
Of course, of course, Khalaf. Everyone knows that jihad is a spiritual struggle and that those bombs and plane hijackings you were talking about are metaphors for the struggle to bring the soul into conformity with the will of Allah. Strike down those towers of sin, blow up those buses of bad habits, brother.
But you’ll have to forgive Andrea McCauley. She’s a bit literal-minded, you see. In the wake of the London bombings, everyone’s a little skittish. Some people are even beginning to think that “slay the unbelievers” (Qur’an 9:5) might be understood by some Muslims — a tiny minority, you understand — to mean “slay the unbelievers.”
Yes, yes, Bassam, I know it’s farfetched. Ha ha! Can you imagine that anyone could be so ignorant and Islamophobic? Everyone knows that it only meant what it says a long, long time ago, and that now all Muslims understand it to mean “Hold interfaith meetings with unbelievers.”
Andrea McCauley, a spokeswoman for the regional Transportation Security Administration office in Dallas, said the agency checks criminal records before hiring screeners, but it does not investigate what people do in their spare time.
“We have eyes and ears in the workplace,” McCauley said. “Once we discovered these Web sites, we fired him.”
An Internet search of Khalaf’s name brings up Web sites that feature his obscene, violent and misogynistic raps that threaten to fly a plane into a building on Sept. 11, 2005.
Here you go: “I CHOSE THIS NAME BECAUSE IT FITS ME. IM ARABIC AND ILL ASSASSINATE YO A**. PLUS I FEEL ITS REAL CONTROVERSIAL AND YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY “CONTROVERSY SELLS”
The mp3 that is up at this site is extremely vile and obscene, so don’t say you weren’t warned. But it doesn’t seem to contain the September 11, 2005 threat, although I couldn’t make it all out. There did seem to be some complaints to the effect that Khalaf is not a member of the Taliban, contrary to allegations. And of course I have no trouble believing that. The Taliban would have announced that they were going to “assassinate yo a**” much more elegantly, and with copious Qur’an quotes.
Khalaf, 21, was hired on Jan. 16 and fired July 7, according to a TSA termination letter that cited his “authorship of songs which applaud the efforts of the terrorists on September 11th, encourage and warn of future acts of terrorism by you, discuss at length and in grave and alarming detail various criminal acts you intend to commit, state your belief that the U.S. government should be overthrown, and finally warn that others will die on September 11, 2005.”
Khalaf, who was born in Houston and is of Palestinian descent, said working as a baggage screener was the best paying job he’s ever had. He said he hoped to use any extra money he earned to produce his CD.
“I kept my music and my job separate. I told a couple of people who I thought was cool with me at work that I rapped, but I never sat there and told them lyrics or anything,” said Khalaf. “I guess somebody probably told them that I had a Web site.”
Khalaf said his terrorist-themed rhymes are more about marketing. He called his songs art and pointed to other rappers who have rhymed about terrorism. He specifically cites Eminem’s song, “My Dad’s Gone Crazy,” which discusses blowing everything on the map up except Afghanistan and says: “There’s no tower too high, no plane that I can’t learn how to fly.”
“Controversy sells,” Khalaf said. “It brings a lot of attention. Everybody wants to label all Arabics terrorists just because a couple of people messed up. Well, I’m going to play along with that character. I’m going to let you think I’m one.”
No, Bassam, I don’t think you’re the one. But I don’t think anyone should be taking any chances with you and your monstrous terrorism chic.