The dark angel Gabriel

In his article for NOW Lebanon this week, Hussein Ibish wrote about the growing legitimization of Islamophobia in the United States. One of the persons he mentioned as spreading the message of hatred is a Lebanese-American, Brigitte Gabriel, who has received considerable publicity lately, not least a profile in the New York Times.
Gabriel heads a non-profit organization called ACT! for America, and her pitch has been a rather simple one: The United States faces an existential threat from Islam and must defend itself. But what makes Gabriel different from others plying the same trade is that she claims to have personal familiarity with the issue, thanks to her experiences in wartime Lebanon during the 1970s and 1980s.
Here is what Gabriel has posted on her website: “I founded ACT! for America because Islamic militants have declared war on America. I know what this means. For years, I witnessed first-hand how brutally jihadists treat non-Muslims.” While Gabriel says that she is not against Islam as such, her critics observe that in her remarks she has often signified precisely the opposite. Gabriel has asserted, for instance, that “[i]n the Muslim world, extreme is mainstream.”
Gabriel is the author of a bestselling book titled Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America. In it, she recounts her time in unsettled South Lebanon, making her case that it was really all about Muslim extremists killing Christians. However, anyone with even cursory knowledge of events in the South during the period that Gabriel lived there would see that her template is nonsensical.
Gabriel frequently draws a direct link between what she saw on September 11, 2001, and what she encountered in her hometown of Marjayoun, located on a hill overlooking the Lebanese-Israeli border. “Watching the World Trade Center buildings fall in 2001,” she has written, “I was struck by the same fear that I experienced during the war in Lebanon. As I watched, words instinctively came from my mouth as I spoke to the TV screen: ‘Now they are here.’”
According to a source familiar with Gabriel’s past, she was born Hanan Qahwaji, and spent the first years of the Lebanese civil war, which began in 1975, in Marjayoun. In those days the South was buffeted by two principal dynamics: clashes between Israel and Palestinian militant groups; and antagonism between the Palestinians and inhabitants of southern Lebanon, Christians and Shia Muslims mainly, who resented the heavy price they were paying for a conflict over which they had no control. The Israelis began arming and overseeing those Lebanese opposed to the Palestinians, among them a Christian Lebanese army officer named Saad Haddad, who formed a pro-Israel militia and became the de facto commander of three enclaves established along the border by the Israelis. In 1978, Israeli forces invaded South Lebanon to dislodge the Palestinians. When they withdrew, the enclaves were joined into an Israeli-protected “security belt” under Haddad’s control. 
In her book, Gabriel notes, “[F]or my first ten years I led a charmed and privileged life. All that came to an end when a religious war, declared by the Muslims against the Christians, […] tore my country and my life apart. It was a war that the world did not understand.”
Evidently, it was a war that Gabriel did not understand either. South Lebanon was a complicated place, but it was not characterized by anything resembling an Islamic jihad. Gabriel, in her blanket indictment of Muslims, airbrushes out that Shia also suffered from the cycles of attack and retaliation between the Palestinian factions and Israel. As a consequence many became as hostile to the Palestinians as the Christians, later joining the pro-Israel militia. Moreover, the Palestinian organizations were secular nationalist. Although many combatants were Muslim, not all were. And their fight was with Israel; it was not a religious crusade against Christians.
As for Gabriel’s grave comment “they are here” after the 9/11 attacks, that’s pure theater. She knows very well that there was nothing remotely comparable between what happened in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, and what she confronted in Marjayoun. Her effort to conflate the situations suggests not a flaw in interpretation; it suggests a conscious effort to mislead.
Gabriel’s portrayal of her daily tribulations during the war also appears to be overdone: she lived in a shelter for three years; she was sometimes driven to school in a tank; bombs tended to explode nearby, so that Gabriel had to use schoolbooks to protect herself from shrapnel. Anyone who grew up during the Lebanese conflict probably lived through similar incidents. However, Gabriel has a way of erasing all nuance, implying that her life was a daily serving of Stalingrad. The reality is that everywhere, in Marjayoun as in Beirut, the war was intermittent – with paroxysms of violence punctuating extended lulls. Maybe Gabriel’s accounts are true, or partly so, but she also makes no effort to mitigate them by stressing the normalcy in between.   
Why does all this matter? For all its problems, Lebanon is not defined by boundless Muslim loathing for Christians. Sooner or later charlatans are outed, and even Gabriel’s admirers will eventually have to address her fabrications more seriously. But most irking, this particular imposter also happens to be a thief. Gabriel has stolen a part of our collective Lebanese memory in order to forge it and peddle it to unsuspecting audiences, all to advance her career in America.
Surely, it must have occurred to Gabriel that someone from back home might one day notice her con act. Perhaps it did, but she was too conceited to care. Purveyors of bigotry and paranoia eventually burn themselves out. But if that process can be accelerated by putting a match to Gabriel’s mendacity, then all the better.      

Michael Young is opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut and author of The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle (Simon & Schuster).

The original sentence mistakenly said that Gabriel was born Nour Saman. That was her name as an anchorwoman for Middle East Television, not her name at birth. And correctly rendered, her pseudonym as anchorwoman was Nour Semaan, not Saman.

  • Whereas

    Oddly enough, hate mongers like this creepy loser Brigitte Gabriel aka Nour Saman aka Hanan Qahwaji, that include losers like Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright, have that distinctive ugly demonic look on their faces. Ugly can never be changed. I also agree that she may be an imposter and is more likely a Falasha Jew from Ethiopia who were allowed to migrate to so-called Israel along with Russian Jews to increase the Jewish population and therefore the Jewish vote to prevent an Arab takeover since Arabs were reproducing at a high rate and would eventually outvote Jews in their so-called "democratic state". Oddly, too, Falashas were discriminated against due to a veiled Zionist Jewish hatred of blacks, and they refused to allow black blood to be transfused into their bodies during operations. In fact, blood banks that received donated black blood threw away their blood. A white Jewish school was closed down to prevent a black Falasha child from being enrolled. I read all that in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs magazines to which I proudly subscribe. This information is available at their online website. Search "Falashas" or such. All back issues are there.

    November 30, 2014

  • john.deboer.5076

    I think you're just drooling at her and can't have her.

    October 11, 2014

  • Bret

    Why then were over 10,000 Lebanese Christians slaughtered in Lebanon by muslim groups in the mid 80/s ? Is it not also true that even Lebanese christian were taught from childhood to hate Israel ? I remember these things as FACT , years before this woman and her story became public .

    September 10, 2011

  • Moshe Murad

    Brigitte Gabriel is suffering from personality disorders called inferiority complex and self-denial. When Ms. Gabriel denies her Arabic identity desperately will keep seeking for another identity knowing that she does not belong to it , hence she will lie and convince herself of that trying to justify that she is not lying and clings to the total denial of their origins...Thousands of American have criticized her saying that how she wants to be American denying her heritage and history background . I am an Arab- Jewish and proud of my Arabic heritage and I have no respect for a person like Brigitte Gabriel(Fake name) because if she denies her origin she has no loyalty to any country or religion in the entire world .

    July 18, 2011

  • Frank C.

    I just visited Brigitte's website and it does appear to me that she makes some pretty important points regarding "lawfare" and other tools of Radical Islam here in America. She also makes some good points about how many Radical Islamists there are in America. One thing is for sure. Muslims killed tens of thousands of Christians in Lebanon during the Civil War and hundreds of thousands of Christians fled Lebanon, the same as they appear to flee every Arab country whenever there is no strong dictator to protect them. There is a reason that Christians are a minority in Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and the Palestinian areas, however, Christians are a majority of Americans of Lebanese, Egyptian, Iraqi, Syrian and Palestinian extraction. It is because it is the Christians that have had to flee. In this light, maybe, just maybe, Brigitte is sounding an important alarm for us all.

    May 16, 2011

  • mohamed basma

    This brigitte is a sick woman,i have posted many articles in her facebook pagr and all i got is being removed time after time,she kept deleting them, as an author and speaker she must be defending freedom of speech but when faced with her lies from a fellow lebanese having lived in the same area and same period she is just defenseless,anyway lebanon is a better place without her.

    May 15, 2011

  • ED

    @ Toni: The American Muslim community has repeatedly denounced terrorism and acts of violence since and even before 9-11. There has been numerous joint statements by mosques and Muslim organizations, press releases, interviews, articles...etc denouncing extremism and terrorism. The US Media hasn't given them enough airtime for the public to realize it and when it did, it was too brief to go noticed. Moreover Muslims there don't seem to have a good grip on Public Relations and media to propagate their message effectively. Regarding Brigitte Gabriel, she is a very manipulative person that is abusing the ignorance and naivety of the American people. She is also a traitor to Lebanon. During the 2006 war she sent an "open letter" to the Israeli government and went on the news encouraging Israel to keep on bombing with the utmost lack of sensitivity to the over 1000+ Lebanese innocents who died in that war regardless of whom to blame. ...

    May 15, 2011

  • roberta stockton

    I sent copies and links of the New York Times article to friends in Beirut -- because this woman offends me to a degree I can barely explain. I was married to Lebanese Muslim and spend time in the country. I am also a New Yorker -- she is the perfect tool for the extreme right /Christian extremists in the U.S. -- and apparently a liar and charlatan as well.. Of course Americans are totally ingnorant of the world round them -- and certainly clueless as to Lebanon and its nuances. Somneone must stand up and say to her "THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES"! She is a self promoting bigot

    March 26, 2011

  • zen

    Ghassan you ignore the fact that the PLO was supported by every revolutionary, Islamist, nationalist, Arabist, leftist, Ummamist, Quawmy, Baathy, mohammad fawaz in this country. And that every despot in the region, western romantic fellow traveler, and armchair radical was also behind them to hell with the damage they caused and without all their support the PLO wouldn't have been able to destroy Lebanon. Anyone not supporting Arafat was accused of being a pro-Israeli Zionist traitor same as now. Since then some have learned their lesson others haven't, for them as for the previous ones the struggle itself is more important that the well being of Lebanon.

    March 18, 2011

  • Sami

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/01/terrorism-in-europe/ May be she can read these statistics.

    March 16, 2011

  • Ghassan

    Mr. Young, you need to remember that the Palestinian forces (PLO and others) were called the "Army of the Muslims" by the Grand Mufti of the Lebanese Republic at that time.

    March 15, 2011

  • Marcus

    Jesus that Women scares me. And I'm a Maronite lol She thinks she's doing Lebanon a favor. She is Not!

    March 14, 2011

  • Selene

    Joseph, what the hell is wrong with you....shes fake because she looks like an Ethiopian Jew? like....what the hell is wrong with you???

    March 14, 2011

  • سامر

    Did we not have a civil war in Lebanon? Did Christian militias not kill and massacre innocent Moslem children and women too?

    March 14, 2011

  • George

    "Walan yosliha el lah ma bikawmin hatta yosliho ma bihim" Until Muslim renounce what some of them are doing and what their ancestors did, they will not be looked at as a peaceful ppl. Exactly like Germans moved on, Muslim around the world should admit that the ethnic cleansing that took place in the Arab peninsula, that all the wars during prophet Mohammad times and afterwards, that the great Islamic Fateh, are wrong and that Islam did conquer and did kill other ppl. Until they admit that in the past as well in the current countries were the Islamic Sharia is law , they burnt churches and temples, oppressed others and treated them as second class citizens in their own countries (ahel zimma) Until they admit this, apologise and above all CHANGE , there will be no way out If Islamic scholars openly say that they are still awaiting and working for the rise of the great islamic Khalifat and the rise of the great Islamic army that will conquer the world - what peace or peaceful religio

    March 13, 2011

  • WndlBell

    You're missing the most salient aspect of Christian Coalition off-shoots:what is this "nuance" of which you speak?

    March 13, 2011

  • Ash

    I should also say that the New York Times article which profiled her drew a lot of critical comments. You can see many of these, out of almost 1,000 comments, here ...

    March 12, 2011

  • Daniel

    can't see the point here - is there anything you wish to say about the message? Simply put, radicals dictate Islamic agenda - the rest are just reacting, distancing themselves or defending, but offering no agenda). The old trick of trying to discredit the messenger personally person is a cheap shot...grow up!

    March 12, 2011

  • F-Kay

    Haha Fuziyad , well in Lebanon everyone looks different. I'm Lebanese and live in the UK, everyone here tells me I look from the gulf or even Asian! And this is precisely what this hater Gabrielle delibrately fails to portray! Lebanon is a wonderfully diverse place.

    March 12, 2011

  • Ash

    First, I should say that Lebanese-Americans think she's full of it. They do not support her bringing her personal drama into American political life and making it a national issue. Indeed many resent her claims of representation, and see her as a shameless media-opportunist. Second, she's fraudulently oversimplifying Lebanese politics and can only get away with it because so few Americans understand Lebanon. Actually, this scandal provides an opportunity for education about the complexities of Lebanon, so that future fraudsters can't get away with this. Third, she's obviously not fooling Lebanese in Lebanon, because everyone who's anyone knows that there exist a multitude of political alliances/cultural movements/labor orgs, etc, are fiercely multireligious. She's simply a fraud. Nothing more than an opportunistic, wannabe Ayaan Hirsi Al.

    March 12, 2011

  • Georges Butros Estaphan

    This American lady is making a lot of money playing to American feelings of fear post 9/11 - and her materials are widely distributed on many conservative and far-right websites blogs eg in north america - what is of concern to me is that this feeds the ultra conservative "Sunni" extremists - and so the extremist Sunni fascists can utilise her propaganda to hurt Christians in the south west asia. Like it is a "War On MIrror" - Extremists in America fighting Extremists in South West Asia, an endless cycle of terror - in words and then in action, the extremists feeding off each other, some made famous and rich out of it, but the victims always the innocent minorities - be they innocent American Muslims in Alabama or innocent Christian civilians in Iraq or Pakistan. She is part of the War of Mirror Axis that feeds on itself, an endless contrived war of civilisations.

    March 12, 2011

  • Deb Giola

    A growing conscience effort to eradicate RADICALS in the US is NOT Islamophobia. What causes islamophobia in the general public is when the Muslim community, as a whole, denounces the US's efforts to find the radicals. Then, it feels like the Islamic community is hiding something/ defending radicals (which they arent doing). But that is what it feels like to the average American. And I honestly dont think you are in a position to belittle her experiences in South Lebanon. The subtitle of her book is "Why we must defeat RADICAL Islam", not why we must defeat ISLAM. People are reading too much into what she says. I AGREE! Where are all of the good and peaceful Mslims standing up and speaking out about the issue of RADICAL muslims in America?? Anyone?

    March 12, 2011

  • OmarS

    Never thought id be ever praising one of your articles Michael (maybe cause for once you're not telling us what an evil force HA is), but wow, full marks for exposing this person for what she is: a cheap charlatan.

    March 12, 2011

  • joseph

    I think she is fake for these reasons. 1) She looks like an Ethiopian Jew 2) She cannot pronounce "terrorist" or "Hezballah" with a Lebanese (particularly South Lebanese) accent. Her accent sounds Israeli 3) She refers to herself as "Arab Christian" - no self respecting Lebanese Christian would consider themselves Arab Christian...

    March 11, 2011

  • TannourineWarrior

    You're right, she doesn't look Lebanese at all, but you never no in Lebanon. As for Gabriel, it is sad that she is using her unfortunate experience to paint ALL our Moslem brothers and sisters with an ugly brush of extremism.

    March 11, 2011

  • wilypagan

    The purveyors of bigotry are the Mullahs who value women and "infidels" as less than full human beings. The West is waking up, thanks to millions of Middle Eastern Christians who have been forced to flee their homelands due to Islamofascism and thanks to former Muslims like Ali Hirsi and others who live under death fatwas ...

    March 11, 2011

  • saadmekari

    this lady stated that Muslim declare war on christian when many if not all the world know about the black Saturday when the christian slaughters the LEBANESE Muslim in Beirut the crime of those people was nothing more than been Muslims why the story been told the other way round why her hate to the Muslim their hate like others that's the mane reason the extremist was created by people like the lady and alike also the UN+USA+EUROPE when the Israelis were+still killing the c+elderly+women+children's they turn their blind eyes but when the palestinian kidnap 1 solder its on the news 24 hours daily never end i wonder is that justice to the Arabs look how many palestinians were killed recently did any condemnation been issued by any one obviously not i don't agree with the bombing of the trade centers and people should stand up to justice did Israel ever comply with the UN resolutions for many years THATS BIG NO NO NO NO NO

    March 11, 2011


    Thanks Michael for exposing opportunists and charlatans who use half truths and lies to benefit themselves. Lebanon’s most important asset is its religious diversity that combined with freedom and democracy will provide real bridges for cultures and religions. Lebanon’s role is even more important today. Lebanese Christians have to remind a materialist West of their rich spiritual heritage. Lebanese Sunnis are a necessity to guide the Arab world into democracy and women rights. Lebanese Shia with their open, free and democratic culture, despite being gradually undermined by the Basij, remain a light for Shia communities throughout the world. Iranian demands during the Green Revolution was to have same freedom as Lebanese Shia. Lebanon as a whole by its woven communities and intellectual strength is the guiding light to a region on path of democracy and best defender of Arab rights. Lebanese will transform fake panArabism into EU type of union among Arab states plus Iran.

    March 11, 2011

  • Fuziyad

    I hate to sound like a aouni making conspiracy theories but frankly that women physically doesn't look Lebanese at all.

    March 11, 2011

  • SG

    Thank you Mr Young for this article. I wish/hope the New York Times would publish it as a follow up to the profile they did on this odious hate-mongering con woman.

    March 11, 2011

  • Kairuz

    Bravo Young! Right in the target.

    March 11, 2011


    well Micheal, you are using this article yourself to advance your career by explaining the Civil War in Lebanon as a very moderate way as if the Muslims did not give up their nationality for religion right before the Civil war in Lebanon. Although everyone should be blamed for the Civil War in Lebanon from DC to Libya including all Lebanese, you should not forget the period that led to the Civil War.

    March 11, 2011

  • mowaten

    gabriel like many like her have let hatred cloud the truth. the effects of the lebanese war on civilians are horrible enough on their own without the need for embellishments. what happened between 1975 and 1990 was so horrific it should never be repeated.

    March 11, 2011

  • Syrian Nationalist Party

    Make that Lebanese Jewsih American.

    March 11, 2011

  • Sami

    2-There was never one Christian casualty in Tebneen.On the contrary ,all those who were "assassinated" were young leftists in an internal struggle between the different factions seeking control over the town although it was neither strategic nor important in any sense of the word.During the 1982 Israel invasion of Lebanon ,the leftists had scattered,but for one,the head of the Kawmiyeh,Sami Berri(related to Nabeeh).He was the only one,along with an army officer,who fired at the Israeli fighter jets.Sami was later on killed in the Iraqi embassy explosion and his body was never found in the rubble.Some think that he will,one day,return, as the Mahdi will.Their imagination is as fertile as Gabriel's imagination and just as destructive,for different ends.Thank you,again,Michael Young.

    March 11, 2011

  • Sami

    1-Thank you Michael young for telling the truth,although no thanks are due to a journalists that says it as it was.From personal experience,relating to this era,my older brother belonged to what was known then as Kawmi Souri.He was "dispatched" by Al Hizb Al Kawmi Al Souri to "guard" and "protect" the "Christian" residents of Tebneen.He had the night shift which upset my late mother.She asked him about his whereabouts in the dark "layali".He replied ,with pride,that he was guarding our brothers the Christian in "haret Al Nasarah"."from whom" my mother wondered."From the Palestinians thugs" my older brother replied.My mother laughed and pointed out to him that there was no Palestinians in Tebneen."Just in case they come" he replied.There was no Jihadists,no Hizballah and a minimal presence for Amal during this time.The left had full control over the town,and they were a secular bunch who were more interested in making money than in fighting Israel and Saad Haddad.

    March 11, 2011

  • saadmekari


    March 11, 2011

  • saadmekari

    HATE IS SMALL WORD BUT VERY BIG TO ANY ONE this lady she should hate herself its not decent way to make her living its immoral like ???????am sure she understand shame on you and people alike

    March 11, 2011

  • John

    To say the PLO was/is strictly a NATIONALIST movement is absurd. Was what they did in Jordan in 1970 a sign of nationalism? Black September? They turned on the Jordanians for control, they weren't fighting Israel. Setting up there own check points, shooting soldiers, collecting taxes! Jordanians had an army and they could remove them. When they came to Lebanon they were the major cause (not the only cause) of the civil war that broke out in 75. They weren't fighting Israel from '75-'82. They were fighting the Phalange and Syria early on. Even though this lady does fabricate a lot. The PLO terrorized Christians and Shia in the south

    March 11, 2011

  • Ben

    A growing conscience effort to eradicate RADICALS in the US is NOT Islamophobia. What causes islamophobia in the general public is when the Muslim community, as a whole, denounces the US's efforts to find the radicals. Then, it feels like the Islamic community is hiding something/ defending radicals (which they arent doing). But that is what it feels like to the average American. And I honestly dont think you are in a position to belittle her experiences in South Lebanon. The subtitle of her book is "Why we must defeat RADICAL Islam", not why we must defeat ISLAM. People are reading too much into what she says.

    March 11, 2011