Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that focuses on Middle East studies. I was a political columnist for (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, The Jewish Policy Center, J-The Jewish News Weekly of N. CA, Intellectual Conservative and many others. More info at

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Jihadi on My Doorstep?

I returned to my apartment building last Saturday night to an unsettling sight. A young, seemingly Arab-American man was sitting smack dab in the middle of the doorstep, accompanied by a bulky backpack and all the while talking to himself and gazing at the cover of the large, leather-bound Koran on his lap. He appeared to be drunk or under the influence of something and when I tried to get past him with a careful, "excuse me," he merely mumbled incoherently. Keeping a watchful eye on him and making sure he wasn't watching back, I managed to get into my building and upstairs without any problem.

But I couldn't shake a feeling of nervousness. Not only did he fit the M.O. of a potential Islamic terrorist (including possibly being drugged), but he could have posed a threat to my own life. Having received a horrific Islamist death threat (the FBI told me they'd arrested someone "in a foreign country" after I reported the e-mail), not to mention a volley of nasty hatemail from disgruntled leftists, I take seriously the potential dangers to someone in my line of work.

So once inside, I decided to report the incident to the local police station. I gave the officer the information, including the fact that the young man looked Arab-American and had a large Koran on his lap. There was a moment of silence and then the police officer responded curtly that they would send someone by to check it out. No doubt he thought me a racist and a bigot, but the question is in a post-9/11 world, can any of us afford not to report these types of incidents?

I distinctly recall Department of Agriculture loan officer Johnelle Bryant's account after 9/11 of having encountered ringleader Mohammed Atta and finding his behavior bizarre and worrisome. Yet, due to the vagaries of political-correctness and her own inability to fathom that, as she put it, "somebody could be that evil," she didn't report the incident. That is, until after 9/11 and by then it was too late.

In a much less consequential version of this story, I remember once driving with my ex-husband (who is African-American) to visit a friend in an Oakland hospital. Trying to avoid the paid parking lot, we foolishly picked a spot on the street near a freeway overpass. As we were parking, both of us noticed a black man, who appeared to be a bum, hanging around the sidewalk nearby. There was something not right about the situation, but I, in a fit of white guilt (with which I've long since dispensed) and he, no doubt trying not to cast aspersion upon a fellow brother, ignored our instincts and left the car.

Sure enough, when we returned, our window was smashed and a few items of no particular value were missing. It wasn't the fact that the man who robbed us was black, but that he was obviously a criminal, of which we should have taken note. But his skin color caused us both to remain silent.

Similarly, those who have reported suspicious incidents involving potential acts of terrorism have all-too-often found themselves on the defensive for following their instincts. The case of the "Flying Imams" comes to mind.

In my own case, the incident in question turned out to have been a harmless one, at least as far as I know. But I don't regret reporting the young man, nor do I regret my suspicions. Sensitivity is all well and good, but it doesn't do one much good from the grave.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Warrior Cinnamon:

Now I will lay awake at night, worried and angry that someone could bring violence on my favorite patriotic conservative Lady columnist. Anonymous Death Threats are the weapon of cowards. Probably the work of those radical anti-American free speech advocates who shout or beat down speakers or writers of opposite viewpoints.

Please continue to be careful and observant of the area around you all of the time. Know that you are in our hearts and prayers. We look forward to your viewpoint on events of importance to all Americans.

Love and best wishes to you and your loved ones. Stay Safe!

Donald Cathcart

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 2:09:00 PM  
Blogger Russ said...

I wouldn't be as worried that he was of arab descent, as the fact that he was reading the Quran. I mean, you don't have to be a weak arab to fall for the creed of violence in that book - you can be a weak anglo, a weak german, or a weak chinese. I'm glad you reported him (even though the thoroughly chastised police force will hesitate), and I'm even more glad he was harmless.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 2:30:00 PM  
Blogger zombie said...

I'm sorry to say that if that had happened to me, I'd probably have to move. Don't want to sound alarmist, but that's just my personal emotions on the matter. If there was even a 5% chance that malefactors had tracked me down to my home address, I'd be outta there lickety-split. I know that sounds extreme, but I need to be absolutely sure that my home is my refuge.

I have great admiration for the bravery of people such as yourself who dare to be un-PC while using your real names (including such people as Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, Michelle Malkin, and so on). The number of haters and maniacs out there is very disturbing. I simply wouldn't have the bravery to operate under my real identity.

You're probably made of sterner stuff than I.

I'm not suggesting that you move, only that I would probably panic and move myself.

Even though the whole thing my be absolutely innocent, it's still highly unnerving. That's actually the main reason why I moved to a loiterer-free neighborhood -- so that I wouldn't have to guess the motives of anyone hanging uninvited around my home. Now I know -- if someone's out there, then he must have sinister intentions, because under normal circumstances no one is ever loitering. In your case, since I guess you live in a more densely urbanized area, there's no way to tell if he was just an addict sitting on a random doorstep, or someone who was targeting you specifically.

Calling the police was absolutely the right thing to do, in any case.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 2:52:00 PM  
Anonymous GM Roper said...

Good call young lady! Had you not called and the young fellow had done something (including wandering out into traffic and getting himself hurt) you would have felt even worse. Isn't it something that so many allow PC to override their brains.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 3:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gecko said...

OMG Cinnamon,
If it were me, like Zombie, I would get out of Dodge. You are really out there as a warrior of the evil that is radical izlamb and therefore more vulnerable to attack. It seems to me that those same radical jihadis use mind parasite infested people to attempt to strike terror in whatever way and at whatever level they can.
Pain in the neck to move, I know. . .and you are not being paranoid and did the right thing by reporting it though there is nothing they can or will do.
Some grownup hippie girls have been known to pack a pistol You've got our prayers.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 4:12:00 PM  
Blogger Tom W. said...

Next time maybe you should just keep on walking. Go take in a movie, go to a friend's house, whatever. Pretend you don't live there.

The backpack and the Koran together would've made me veer off.

My elderly parents were the victims of a home invasion a few weeks ago. Two female junkies watched Mom drive off and then went in through the back door while Dad was in the bathroom. I live next door; I saw the strange car in the driveway and went to check it out.

I met the two creatures in the living room. One tried to distract me with a story about being in the wrong house, while the other slipped out the back, where she ran into my brother.

We had to let the two filthy, toothless animals go, because we didn't want to physically restrain them, then we called the cops. I was so angry I almost lost control. I've never wanted to feel another human being's bones breaking under my feet as I jumped up and down on her, all 230 pounds of me.

I--former Bill Clinton supporter--am now the proud owner of a .40 caliber semiautomatic Ruger pistol. Woe betide any future house-breaking junkies.

In California, Cinnamon, carrying a concealed pistol without a permit is only a misdemeanor.

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 6:39:00 PM  
Blogger Jeremayakovka said...

"Jihadi" is often loosely-defined. It often means the kinder, gentler, white-collar, institutional kind.

This true-believing, drugged-up dupe (as you note, drugged on chemicals &/or the Koran) is the crueler, cruder kind.

I'd document it even further: by sending a (firm, but gentle) certified letter to my landlord recounting the incident in detail and citing whatever clauses in the lease address your expectations of safety which management is to provide. I might even cc copies to the captain of the local precinct, city supervisor, and perhaps other officials or media professionals.

If this was a Muslim fanatic, casing your residence, in addition to comments about moving and firearms, it's necessary to wage counter-jihad in that "softer," more institutional way - just like jihadists do, too.

In sum, our times are worse than the Red Threat of the 1940s and 50s.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 7:42:00 PM  
Anonymous ShadowofDiogenes said...

Cinnamon you did the right thing! In today's world loons seem to be everywhere.

Friday, May 30, 2008 1:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Bern said...

I think this basically makes you a racist and a bigot, not to mention one of those alarmist republicans that feels it's totally appropriate to waste the city's money on reportiong some student who had too much dope. Really, with the lack of policemen around to handle real crimes, do you really need to waste the city's police force time to investigate some stoned student? I think we're just a little bit too self-important, aren't we?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 1:59:00 PM  
Blogger Russ said...

Bern - yes, OF COURSE we want the police to investigate 'some stoned student'. This is precisely the purpose of the police. You may think a stoned student isn't that serious, but it was a stoned vagrant who attacked my eight-year-old nephew two years ago in a park. You want to be stone, fine. Just don't do it in public. Jeez. Put down your koolaid and pick up your coffee mug.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 2:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Bern said...


I don't drink caffienated beverages. I might have an herbal tea in the am on a chilly day, but I'd more than likely reach for a juice. Orange juice, or preferably a mix of orange and pineapple.

Having said that, really, I don't know that we need to be bothering the police every time we see someone who looks slightly Islamic. I mean, good lord, I'd love to call the police every time I hear a southern accent, but not all of them are going to do something awful to an Africa American.

Friday, June 13, 2008 9:51:00 AM  
Blogger Russ said...

Bern - who said anything about calling the police when you see someone 'slightly Islamic'?? Stop embellishing - it's a poor way to make a point. We're talked about a stoned person here, remember, and if he's wearing/carrying regalia associated with a lifestyle known for violent outbursts, it IS a cause for concern. I'll bet you and your herbal-tea-drinking associates would have no qualms at calling the police if it was a shaven-headed swastika-clad punk, now would you? It seems that the liberal left is ever unable or unwilling to recognize the violent aspects of any minority lifestyle. Perhaps you justify this as balancing out the oppressive excesses of the majority, but it remains illogical. I ask again: Why WOULDN'T you call the police in a case like this?

Friday, June 13, 2008 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous bern said...

Because he didn't do anything wrong. Where I come from, if you don't do anything wrong, we don't call the police on you. That includes shaven-head, swastika clad punks. I always feel funny telling the cops, "Well, his head is shaved. Can't you come out here and do something?"

Besides, my co-workers and friends are all coffee fanatics, so I don't know that you should include them in your gross generalization about how liberals don't want to recognize violent aspects of minorities.

When the US kills, maims, and/or rapes hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, is this an example of one of those violent aspects of a minority lifestyle?

Oh, and one more thing: is it the Quran or the backpack that amounts to "regalia?"

Monday, June 16, 2008 4:53:00 PM  
Blogger Russ said...

Bern - the mumbling man that accosted my nephew didn't do anything wrong up to the point of the actual attack. My point is that suspicious behavior, while very widely defined, IS grounds for investigation by the police. That's what we pay them for. I've been pulled over twice because a cop thought I was suspicious. Many minorities are pulled over with a greater frequency. If (important) in the officer's judgement, they aren't a threat to anyone, the cop continues on his/her way. Better to have the police investigate suspicious behavior than have little children, or anyone else for that matter, assaulted. It's the price we pay for living in a free society, and to believe otherwise is to be grossly naive or stubbornly narrow-minded. And yes, if I saw a shaven-headed, swastika clad white man outside my home mumbling to himself, you bet I'd call the police.

Your sensational and embellished statement that the US "kills, maims, and/or rapes hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians" has it's roots in truth: US troops HAVE killed, maimed, and/or raped innocent civilians worldwide. This is one of the reasons you don't want to have a war. Terrible things happen in the fog of war. It's balanced against the conditions that would have existed had we NOT gone into Iraq - a realm of pure speculation, but one that can be supported through study and experience. And of course on this issue, you won't convince me otherwise, and I won't convince you.

Both the Quran and the backpack amount to regalia (and before you get your self-rightous knickers in a wad, so would a christian bible, the Torah, or the Anarchist Cookbook. I'd draw the line at a book of Emily Dickinson poetry, though, but maybe I'm wrong).

Monday, June 16, 2008 5:51:00 PM  
Anonymous bern said...

OK, Cinn. I just read the article you quote about the loan officer that met Mohammad Atta. #1 -she never mentions "the vagaries of political-correctness." So, thanks for completely making that up, Cinnamon. I mean, some "blogger," huh, suggesting something completely different than what you source said.

#2 - how on earth can you compare a man, admittedly a foreigner/immigrant, applying for a loan to buy a plane to carry chemicals, asking about security at the World Trade Center and information about other US landmarks, and telling her that Osama will be the next great ruler of the country - to a guy carrying a Quran and a backpack in San Francisco? Geez. 1/4 of this city probably has a Quran and half probably own a backpack. So, ummmm...yes, plane, chemicals, security, maps, US landmarks vs. guy, Quran, backpack.

AT the end of the day, I think you're just a racist. Or a right winger. They're pretty much the same thing. Lots of overlap, let's just say. But the thing is, just admit it. Just be the racst you are. I would have so much more respect for you if you would have said, "The was this slightly Islamic looking person on my doorstep and I hate slightly Islamic-looking people so I called the police." At least then, I can think, well, she's an awful, right-wing racist, but hey, at least she's up front about it.

Oh, and by the way, that woman's story is so full of holes. I caught them. And pretty much everyone out in internetland caught them, too. Some nut case looking for her 15 minutes of fame. That story so did not happen. Even you should be smart enough to figure that out. But then again, it's a perfect story for your "political correctness" comment.

Monday, June 16, 2008 5:55:00 PM  
Anonymous bern said...

Looks like Cinnamon got a new job as an usher for Obama:

Of course, not this woman is upset AND wearing a scarf - surely a sign of a Jihadi - CALL THE POLICE!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Joan said...

Russ, I totally agree with you. It's hard to trust anyone this day and age. Just the other day I was driving down the freeway and was passed by a Honda CRV with four women with those scary veils. I thought to myself, this is suspicious. Should I call 911 and alert the authorities. I decided to do nothing. I lay awake all night thinking that these characters could be headed to the nearest mall filled with nice people to blow them to bits. When I woke up in the morning (well, I didn't really sleep) I immediately turned on the television. To my relief, there were no horror stories about terrorist bombs at my local mall.

This continues to bother me and I think about what I would do next time. I just don't know why all these foreigners can't blend in with the rest of us good Americans and wear nice, normal clothes. It's really sad that they come to our country and think that they can still carry on their customs.

Next time I see something like this, I will probably call the police just to be on the safe side. You can never be too careful with the way the world is today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 9:36:00 PM  
Blogger Russ said...

Joan - no need to be snarky.

Thursday, June 19, 2008 6:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anita said...


Ok, ummm...Joan? That was me and my girlfinds. Alicia is getting married and we borrowed her brother's CRV for the bachelorette party. They weren't "scary veils," they were "bridal veils." We all had to wear bridal veils and we went to like 9 bars in the Marinia and Alicia had this whole list of things to do. Like get cute guys to sign her cleavage, get cute guys to buy us those shots - Sex on the Beach, get cute guys to drop their jeans and moon us, ok, so like this whole list of stuff. And yes, one of them was for all of us to wear bridal veils all night long.

And, I am kind of offended because one of ur friends is Kalpana and she works for a hedge fund and she's totally intelligent and makes huge bucks. But, she's Indian (like from India Indian), and not Islamic looking. I mean, if she looked more Islamic and the bridal veil were like, black, or maybe one of those scarves we used to wear in the 80s that Rachael Ray wore in that ad and all the people in the middle of America and the Central Valley got all up in arms over it because it meant Dunkin Donuts was harboring terrorists, well, I mean, if it was one of those that covered our faces completely, well then I could understand. But she's Indian and gorgeous, even under the ivory lacy veil. And not a terrorist. Or a Jihadi. So, ok, yes, I am offended. And she would be too.

Of course, we wouldn't have been able to drive if we were wearing those black burkas, now that I think of it.

Well, OK, so...perhaps you can see that ummm....just because we were driving a huge gas guzzler that gets like 7 MPG (Alicia's brother filled the tank for us) and wearing veils doesn't mean that we were Iranian or Iraqi women with bombs strapped to our body and going to the mall (there isn't even a mall in the Marina), we're just 4 girls doing a typical bachelorette party in the Marina, which happens all the time, except maybe not in today's day and age where someone's ready to call the police because you wore a bridal veil and your friend is from a nice suburb of Delhi.

But it goes to show you: you can't always judge a book by its cover.

OK, Bye!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008 9:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Bella said...

Russ, I don't truly believe that Joan's comment was any 'snarky-er' than your comments. I believe that Joan was expressing her real fears that exist in America. I share many of her concerns as well. We need to meet the challenges that face us today by locking down our borders, letting no more foreigners in and deporting those who are not here legally. I believe that I am just echoing Cinnamon's sentiments about the situation at hand. Maybe he should run for president!

Thursday, June 19, 2008 9:31:00 AM  

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