Former KKK terrorist cites C.S. Lewis’ faithful obedience
By Marilyn Stewart
Aug 9, 2006
OXFORD, England (BP)--Once billed as “the most dangerous man in Mississippi,” former Ku Klux Klan member and terrorist Tom Tarrants became a Christian while in prison for attempted murder and now serves as president of the C.S. Lewis Institute in Washington, D.C.
Tarrants shared his testimony with a group of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary faculty, students and friends as part of this summer’s study program at England’s Oxford University. The NOBTS program offers seminary course credit and the opportunity to study under evangelical thinkers in combination with visiting religious and historic sites in England and Scotland.
Born and raised in Mobile, Ala., during the years of racial segregation, Tarrants bitterly opposed the move toward racial equality in the 1960s, directing his hatred toward Jews, whom he believed were involved in a communist plot against America and whom he viewed as God’s enemies.
As a young man in his early 20s, Tarrants aligned himself with Sam Bowers, a man who was later convicted for his part in the murder of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Miss. -– the story fictionalized in the movie “Mississippi Burning.” The FBI referred to Bowers’ group, the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, as the most violent right-wing terrorist group in the nation.
As an operative for the White Knights, Tarrants was involved in some 30 bombings of synagogues, churches and homes before being apprehended in an FBI sting operation in Meridian, Miss. In the ensuing shootout between Tarrants and law enforcement officers, Tarrants’ female accomplice was killed and he was shot 19 times, almost ending his life.
After months of recovery, Tarrants began a 30-year sentence in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, one of the most volatile prisons in the nation at the time. He escaped shortly after being incarcerated but was apprehended in yet another shootout that took the life of another accomplice.
His only diversion from prison life was to retreat into reading. One day Tarrants picked up a Bible. The words of Jesus haunted him: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”
Although he had attended a Southern Baptist church as a child, Tarrants realized he was not a Christian and his life had been a contradiction to biblical teaching. Alone in his cell, Tarrants gave his broken life to Christ. He renounced his racism and hatred and committed his life in service to Christ and mankind.
The realization that he had only narrowly escaped death when he was apprehended convinced him that God had another purpose for his life. Later, Tarrants found out that the wife of an FBI agent involved in his capture had been praying for his salvation for years. After his conversion, the FBI agent and his wife, along with others who had been the targets of his hatred, were instrumental in securing his release after eight years in prison.
Tarrants then earned college and seminary degrees and served in various ministry positions, including a co-pastorate at the evangelical Christ our Shepherd Church in Washington, D.C.
Tarrants has authored the book, “The Conversion of a Klansman,” and coauthored “He’s My Brother” with African American evangelical leader John Perkins. Once a crusader for hate, Tarrants now, as president of the C.S. Lewis Institute, fills a role of educating and equipping those who, like Lewis, want to defend their faith and impact their world with truth.
C.S. Lewis, Tarrants said, was a radical disciple of Jesus who happened to be an Oxford don and a brilliantly gifted writer. Tarrants reminded the NOBTS group to give all to God -– both heart and mind. Tarrants told them Lewis believed “that true knowledge of God comes from obedience.”
“I was deeply encouraged to hear how a single biblical encounter broke through years of insincerity and hatred to transform a man’s life beyond recognition,” NOBTS student Jason Palmer said of Tarrants’ testimony.
Tarrants’ story resounded with the NOBTS group due to the school’s prison education efforts. NOBTS recently began an extension program for inmates at Parchman, the very place where Tarrants made his commitment to Christ. The program is similar to the highly successful NOBTS program at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, La.
Now for the story on Islamic conversions....
Alarm as plotters told 'attack now'
August 12, 2006
"GO now!" The message came from Pakistan and it rattled the British intelligence agents who intercepted it.
The urgent direction was sent early this week to a group of young British Muslims who had been plotting one of the world's biggest-ever terrorist attacks.
Intelligence officials who had been monitoring the group thought they had plenty of time to keep watching them and gathering evidence before safely rounding them up early enough to stop them carrying out their scheme. But the message from radicals in Pakistan saying "do the attacks now" changed everything, and when it was passed to higher authorities in London on Wednesday night, it sent a jolt through the top levels of the British Government.
Prime Minister Tony Blair had jetted off on Monday for a holiday at pop star Cliff Richard's mansion in Barbados, believing that the long-running investigation of the terror plot was some time away from a climax.
As late as 8pm London time on Wednesday, when Blair called US President George W. Bush for an arranged discussion, he mentioned the investigation but still did not know that it had suddenly become urgent.
His Transport Minister, Douglas Alexander, who is responsible for British aviation, was on holiday in Scotland and even Andy Hayman, the assistant commissioner of police in charge of specialist operations, was enjoying the sun in Spain.
Hayman's deputy, Peter Clarke, was told late on Wednesday about the hurry-along message from Pakistan, which may have been prompted by the arrest of a co-conspirator in Pakistan, and decided the British suspects had to be arrested straight away.
By dawn on Thursday, all 24 known suspects had been grabbed in raids on houses in London, Birmingham and High Wycombe, and a mosque in Birmingham. They are mostly in their late teens and early 20s, the youngest 17 and the oldest 35. All are British citizens.
Many are well-educated and come from middle-class families who own businesses and property.
One is a biochemistry student, another the son of an architect, another the son of an accountant. Many are married with small children. Most are of Pakistani descent, like three of the four suicide bombers who killed 52 people on the London transport system 13 months ago, but two are white Muslim converts.
Abdul Waheed, 21, grew up as Don Stewart-Whyte, the hard-drinking, troublesome son of a full-time Conservative Party official. Six months ago, he changed his name, grew a beard, shaved his head, began wearing white robes and married an Arabic or south Asian Muslim wife. A salesman at an electrical store, he was arrested on Wednesday night when he drove into the driveway of the home he shares with his mother and wife in High Wycombe, north of London. A policeman hiding in wait leaped out and smashed the driver's window before dragging him from the vehicle. Another convert, 25-year-old east Londoner Oliver Savant, recently changed his first name to Ibrahim. His mother is of English descent and his father Iranian but neighbours said his father was "thoroughly Anglicised".
"He's just a normal Londoner," his brother Adam said yesterday. "His missus is six months pregnant. He loves football. He supports England and Arsenal." Like Waheed, Savant has recently grown a beard, shaved his head, taken to wearing robes and married a Muslim woman. Several of the other men arrested were described by their neighbours yesterday as devout family men with a strong interest in Islam, although several were described as being insular and withdrawn from their local communities.
There are various accounts of how the plot first came to the attention of British authorities.
The Washington Post quoted US officials as saying "the first whiff" had come after last year's July 7 suicide bombings in London, when a Muslim tipped off British authorities to the suspicious activities of an acquaintance.That first tip was vague but it led investigators to a well co-ordinated plot to bomb transatlantic flights, the paper said.
Incidental evidence? Of course it is and this is not mean't to be a universal though it is very, very typical.
Former KKK terrorist cites C.S. Lewis’ faithful obedience