Back in September the U.S. government decided the former Cat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam (which would be sort of like me changing my name to "Joe Christian") had unacceptable links to terrorists and noisily barred him from the country by diverting and grounding a plane full of people.
As I said at the time, I do not believe the former Cat is a direct threat to the United States. I do not believe he and his daughter flew to America that Tuesday to inflict intentional harm upon the nation or its interests, nor was he a threat to the passengers on the plane that was to convey him to Washington.
And obviously, diverting that plane to Maine - as the closest ground once the plane was in the air - was a dramatic, wildly inconvenient gesture that was not specifically necessary to protect the safety of the craft or the nation in general. If Islam was on a goverment no-fly list, this should have been caught before he boarded the plane.
BUT, if in fact the government has good cause to believe that Islam (the former singer, not the religion) has contributed money to Hamas and to blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman (who was convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing), then he is in fact a "terror threat" because terror is not possible without funding, and those who fund and thereby enable terror are just as guilty as those who carry out the actual acts.
I get the sense from the following press release on Islam's website that he has decided charity work is his door back into music, which is certainly what he was best at in the first place. We just ate at Pizza Hut a couple of hours ago and the Cat's classic "Father and Son" was playing on the jukebox - THAT guy I miss.
- Yusuf Islam travels to Indonesia this week to open a regional office for his humanitarian relief charity, Small Kindness, and will head a galaxy bill of local artists at a fundraising concert in Jakarta on 31st January to aid tsunami victims from the Aceh province.
Mr Islam - formerly Cat Stevens - has composed a new song entitled, Indian Ocean, in response to the disaster which he recorded recently in collaboration with fellow musicians including AR Rahman, the prolific Indian composer/producer, Magne Furuholmen of A-Ha fame, and Travis drummer Neil Primrose. The single will be released next month to raise money for children orphaned by the earthquake.
"Like everyone else, I was so shaken by the enormity of this human tragedy, and the song just came without effort. It is my contribution towards helping to rebuild the broken spirits of the victims of the disaster," said Mr Islam.