Afghanistan Still Seething Over Jones' Koran Burning, Two More Dead
But American officials say Jones' supervision of a Koran burning last month, which has inspired three days of deadly protests in Afghanistan, has succeeded in strengthening the Taliban there.
Two more deaths Sunday brought the total to 22 casualties, while more than 100 have been wounded in incidents across the country:
"The insurgents, according to Afghan and Western officials, have been able to exploit the ongoing tumult, using riots as cover for attacks against Western and government targets and reaping propaganda benefits by allying themselves with popular fury over the desecration of the Muslim holy book."
Jones said he expected the Koran burning, part of his own "International Judge the Koran Day", would provoke outrage in the Muslim world:
"Islam is a religion of threats or intimidation. Any time you do anything, Islam always comes with threats. I think we really need to take this to heart."
A radical right-wing crusader, Jones and his small church have captured the attention of people around the world, first with threats to burn the book last 9/11 and now with an actual burning.
Gen. David Petraeus, running the American operation in Afghanistan, identified Jones' plans as dangerous to the mission last year:
"Back in September, when Terry Jones of the World Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., first announced his intention to burn Islam's holy book, Gen. Petraeus publicly urged the preacher to abandon the plan, saying it would be exploited by the Taliban and endanger the lives of American soldiers. Rev. Jones's church shelved the idea at the time. But then he reversed course and his church held a "trial" of the Quran and incinerated the book in a videotaped ceremony March 20."
The perception among the Afghan public is that the U.S. is complicit in Jones' actions, part of larger mission to humiliate Muslims:
"The protests, which have touched virtually every major Afghan city, not only showed the hair-trigger sensibilities associated with any insult to Islam in this deeply conservative society but also illustrated the gulf between Western and Afghan precepts regarding free speech and civil liberties.
Many Afghans, including some sophisticated urban dwellers, were baffled by the notion that what they considered an overt act of blasphemy could be considered a permissible expression of political opinion."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Face the Nation's Bob Schieffer he planned to look into legislation that would prohibit Koran burning, however unlikely.
"I wish we could find a way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we're in a war," Graham said.
Several Congressional leaders joined Afghan President Hamid Karzai in condemning the act, while reporters on the ground said the anger shows no signs of abating.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said: "Religious extremism in any form is wrong. I am very, very disappointed that this man [Jones] decided to do this. I think people should understand the consequences of what they do under the guise of religion."