Koran-Burning Pastor Defiant Despite Riots

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At least 20 are dead in Afghanistan, including two American soldiers, as Muslims rioted for a fourth straight day Monday, enraged by a Florida church's burning of a Koran three weeks ago.

During the protests, a man wearing a border police uniform shot and killed two American soldiers. It was not known if the killer was a police officer who turned on his Western counterparts or an insurgent disguising himself in uniform.

Pastor Terry Jones had threatened to burn Islam's holy book on Sept. 11 of last year, but changed his mind after an international outcry. But the Gainesville, Fla., pastor finally made good on his threat March 20, putting the book on trial and setting it on fire.

"We wanted to raise awareness of this dangerous religion and dangerous element," Jones told ABC News, adding that the attacks "prove there is a radical element of Islam." 

Many now say the blood is on his hands, and some fear his actions are putting American troops at risk. But Jones disagreed.

"We do not feel responsible no. We feel more that the Muslims and the radical element of Islam, they use that as an excuse," he said in response to the violence. "If they didn't use us as an excuse, they would use a different excuse."

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, condemned Jones' actions, suggesting they could harm U.S. forces in the region.

"It was hateful. It was intolerent," he said.

News of the Koran burning sent angry Muslims pouring into the streets after Friday prayers. The crowd overtook a United Nations compound, murdering seven U.N. workers, all while chanting, "Death to the U.S., death to Israel."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the attacks.

"This was an outrageous and cowardly attack against the U.N. staff which cannot be justified under any circumstances, and I condemn in the strongest possible terms," Ban said. "I extend my condolences to those killed or wounded and their families."

"I think it says a lot about what's going on in Afghanistan right now. We are fighting there, troops are dying there, American kids, supposedly to bring some kind of democracy to this country," CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck explained.

"Look, sharia law is enshrined in the Afghan's Constitution," he said. "This is who they are, this is what they do. It's a really sad commentary on Afghan society I think."

The FBI said the terrorist group Hezbollah has a $2.4 million bounty on Terry Jones' head and they aren't the only ones. The death threats are streaming in.

"Right now we have a little over 300 threats," Jones said. "Today 10 death threats have came in."
Some of the threats are time and date specific. Jones and his assistant carry firearms for protection.
"I think they're going to have to turn out more manpower to protect him this time, because this is bigger, at least initially, than it was in the fall as far as potential threats," ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said.
Pastor Jones said most of his member have left the church. But he's continuing on with his cause - something he says is worth dying for.   

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CBN News
Mark Martin

Mark Martin

CBN News Reporter

Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.