Controversial bus ads draw attention to terrorist attacks in attempt to influence presidential race

Anti-Obama group claims 19,757attacks since 9/11

DENVER - A group concerned about Islamic terrorist threats has purchased 10 bus ads from RTD in an attempt to spark debate about their concerns before the election.

The ads, purchased by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, claim there have been 19,757 deadly Islamic attacks since 9/11. The ads state: It's not Islamaphobia, it's Islamorealism.

When asked why the group purchased ads in Denver, Executive Director Pamela Geller told 7NEWS, "Because it's a swing-state."

Geller said AFDI wants to influence the Presidential race.

She said the Obama Administration did not heed requests to increase security at the consulate in Libya.  She also said the President dropped the ball with Fort Hood, where 13 solders were killed, allegedly by Maj. Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist.

"He (Hasan) had 'Soldier of Allah' on his business card and yet, President Obama, the Administration calls it workplace violence," Geller said.

The director of the University of Denver's Center for Middle East Studies called the ads fraudulent.

Professor Nader Hashemi said the group behind them "is motivated in particular by an animus and hatred of President Obama."

"They've conjured up these images, these fantasies about President Obama being a closet Muslim secretly bringing Sharia Law into the United States," he said.

Nader said there is no credible research behind the figures used in the ads.

When asked if he was offended by them, Nader replied, "Yes. They're offensive to many members of the Muslim community here in Denver, who have to see them as they go to work or go to school."

When asked if the ads portray all Muslims as terrorists, Geller said, "No."

But Nader said, "They don't distinguish between Al Quaida, the group responsible for 9/11 and the American Muslim community."

Geller said there's no need to. "Most people know there are law-abiding Muslims. I don't believe I have to pat on the back every person who doesn't want to kill me."


RTD spokesman Scott Reed said, "Just like newspapers and TV stations, RTD does not endorse or support the products, services, issues or candidates that choose to buy ad space."

He said AFDI contacted RTD's advertising contractor about purchasing space for this ad on 10 buses for 4 weeks.

"RTD's Legal, Purchasing and Marketing units each reviewed the ads and could find no legally supportable reason to reject them," Reed said. "It's important to know that the American Freedom Defense Initiative, not RTD, is responsible for the content of the ads."

Reed noted that similar ads have been popping up at transit agencies elsewhere.

"In each case, the few agencies that initially refused to run the ads ended up being challenged in the court and ultimately lost, making those agencies pay significant legal costs and generating a large amount of negative publicity," he said.

Reed said all political ads must include the name of the creator and purchaser.

"As they do in this case," he said.

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