A prominent Christian preacher that reportedly converted to Christianity from Islam has come under fire for making suspicious claims about his Muslim past.
Ergun Caner, the dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia, claims that he was a radical Muslim teenager before immigrating to the US from Turkey and discovering Jesus Christ at a church in the US state of Ohio.
Soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, DC, Caner and his brother, Emir, published a book labeled Unveiling Islam: An Insider's Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs.
In the book, Caner portrays himself as a one-time extremist who received terrorist trainings in Turkey.
The publication of the book quickly propelled this unknown Baptist minister to the heights of fame, and in 2005 granted him his current post as the dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Since then, Caner has established himself as a leading Christian critic of Islam using his stature as the dean of one of the most prominent Evangelical theology schools.
However, Caner's contradictory stories and remarks have cast doubt on his past.
Recent reports show that he and his family had moved to Ohio when he was just a child -- before being able to receive terrorist training -- and that some "Arabic" phrases he had uttered in some of his speeches were actual gibberish.
Following the revelations, Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. has initiated a probe into Caner's behavior, with results due later this month, the Associated Press reported recently.
Jerry Falwell Sr., the founder and former chancellor of the Liberty University who died in 2007, was an outspoken rhetorical critic of Islam that lacked little scholarly knowledge of the religion. On numerous occasions he had made offensive remarks regarding the Prophet of Islam (PBUH).
Many critics regard Caner to be just an opportunist who has sowed tension between the world's two largest faiths.
"He's done enormous harm ... To listen to someone like Caner, you'd think house meetings to decide what to blow up next are daily fare for all Muslims," said Charles Kimball, director of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma.
Analysts say that Caner's climb to fame, however, illustrates how important Muslim conversion stories are among American Christian communities today.
It also brings back to mind the longstanding fascination of the American society -- dating back to the colonial period -- with tales of Muslims converting to Christianity.