The plumber is a polite guy, born and raised in Atlanta as a Baptist about 5 miles from where I grew up. He is a convert to Islam and says he attends the largest mosque in Atlanta.
Some of the things he said just blew me away and I wanted to share. This isn't somebody from a foreign country - he is a native Georgian.
He said (and he was very matter of fact about all this as if none of it would possibly be disputed)
1. There was no way 9/11 was done by Muslims. Bin Laudin always claims responsibility when he does something and he said right away he didn't do it. Everybody at the mosque knows the tapes where he supposedly said he did it were unintelligible and the translation was fake. Nobody at the mosque thinks Muslims could do 9/11. You have to look at who benefitted - we didn't benefit. The people who want war and wire tapping benefitted.
2. The suicide bombers aren't Muslims. Muslims can't kill women. You can kill a child before you can kill a woman. Jihad has to be fought with your chest - out front, not with your side or your back. I don't know who is doing the bombings but everybody at the mosque is sure it isn't Muslims.
3. The President of Iran is saying those things about Israel and the bomb to get President Bush to attack Iran. He (the Iranian president) doesn't care about his life or the lives of Iranians - he cares about the after-life. A world war is coming and the war with Iran will be part of what sets it up - Syria and Pakistan will join the war on Iran's side.
4.There are millions of people ready to die for Islam. They are all peaceful. Islam means peace. But when it clicks that the final war has started they will die for Islam.
5. Ayatollah Khomeni captured the Shah of Iran and castrated him and paraded his head through the streets. (Historical note - the Shah died in Egypt after President Carter's decision to allow him into the United States for treatment triggering the embassy takeover, hostage crisis and the most screwed up rescue operation in U.S. history.)
6. Muslims are peaceful people who just want to live a simple life. But when people stop them from living that life, when people won't leave them alone, they have to fight. They have to jihad.
7. "I just wish we could have one generation of peace for my children to live for a while before it starts."
It boggles my mind how two guys who grew up so close together could wind up so far apart. I didn't even try to change his mind about anything - that train has left the station.
Well, actually I did tell him that I was certain that Al Quaida was behind 9/11 and that we had identified all the hijackers but it had no effect.
This experience left me feeling quite pessimistic. I just don't understand how this set of beliefs are possible.