Pastor Terry Jones, Who Burned a Koran, Says He Was Duped
The pastor who stoked violence in Afghanistan earlier this month by burning a Koran in March produced a recording on Saturday that he said proved he was deceived last September when he agreed to cancel plans to burn 200 copies of the Koran.
The pastor, Terry Jones, played the recording — which he said was made on Sept. 9 on his assistant’s iPhone — of a conversation between him and Imam Muhammad Musri, an Islamic leader in Florida. At the time, Mr. Musri was trying to persuade Mr. Jones not to burn the Korans as part of a demonstration on Sept. 11.
After the Sept. 9 meeting, Mr. Jones announced that as part of a deal brokered by Mr. Musri to relocate a proposed Islamic center near ground zero in New York, he would not burn the 200 Korans. But almost immediately after the announcement, Mr. Musri, who had attended a news conference with Mr. Jones, told reporters that he had made no such deal and no such promise. The pastor, he said, had backed down because of pressure from President Obama and the rest of the world.
“This does definitely prove he lied to the news media and has lied the whole time,” Mr. Jones said from behind his desk, on which rested a pistol, a Bible and a rental copy of the film “Se7en.”
Mr. Jones played the audio on his computer while his assistant, Wayne Sapp, displayed the file on his phone. Mr. Sapp said he discovered the five-minute recording only two weeks ago, having believed he had failed to properly record the conversation between Mr. Musri and Mr. Jones.
On the recording, Mr. Musri is heard affirming that he had spoken with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the New York City project, and that Mr. Rauf had been willing to move the Islamic center.
“Let me get your, umm, your message straight,” Mr. Jones is heard saying on the recording. “Your message is you talked to the imam, and uh, he is willing to, uh. …”
“He is willing to relocate,” says Mr. Musri, who is the president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida.
“He is willing to relocate,” Mr. Jones repeats, at which point Mr. Musri cuts in.
“The mosque from ground zero,” Mr. Musri says. “O.K.? To an alternative location that is not controversial at all, away from ground zero. O.K.?”
In a telephone interview on Saturday, Mr. Musri said he believed the recording was a fake. It is, he said, simply another plea for attention on the part of Mr. Jones and an effort to rationalize to his dwindling supporters why he chose not to burn the Korans last year.
“I don’t think it’s authentic,” Mr. Musri said, adding that he never spoke with the New York imam and made no such promise. “Even with whatever is in that transcript, it does not say I am promising him it will be moved.”
“He made it up, as simple as that,” Mr. Musri said. “Nobody gets it that this guy keeps making up stuff to get attention.”