The news last week that two Muslim military personnel, James Yee and Ahmad al-Halabi, had been arrested on suspicion of aiding Al-Qaeda prisoners at Guantánamo Bay (with another three Muslim servicemen under watch) seemed to prompt much surprise. It should not have.
It has been obvious for months that Islamists who despise America have penetrated U.S. prisons, law enforcement, and armed forces. In February, a milestone Wall Street Journal article established that imams who consider Osama bin Laden "a hero of Allah" dominate the Islamic chaplaincy in the New York state prison system.
In March, I documented the case of FBI Special Agent Gamal Abdel-Hafiz: His superiors not only overlooked this immigrant's pattern of pro-Islamist behavior, they promoted him.
And at least six prior cases of Islamist servicemen have come to light:
Ali Mohamed: An Egyptian immigrant who after discharge from the U.S. Army went to work for Osama bin Laden, Mohamed pleaded guilty to helping plan the 1998 bombing surveillance of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. He's now in prison serving his sentence.
Semi Osman: An ethnic Lebanese immigrant and non-U.S. citizen who served in the Army and in the Naval Reserve, Osman was arrested in 2002 and accused of "material support for terrorists." He pleaded guilty to a weapons violation and served his sentence.
Abdul Raheem Al Arshad Ali: An African-American convert to Islam and former Marine, he awaits trial in prison for supplying a semiautomatic handgun to Semi Osman.
Jeffrey Leon Battle: An African-American convert and Army reservist, Battle awaits trial in prison on charges of "enlisting in the Reserves to receive military training to use against America."
John Allen Muhammad: An African-American convert and Army veteran, Muhammad is suspected of having thrown a grenade at a fellow soldier in 1991. He awaits trial in prison as one of two charged in last year's Beltway sniper killings.
Hasan Akbar: Another African-American convert, Akbar awaits trial in prison for two counts of premeditated murder and three charges of attempted murder in a March fragging incident against his fellow soldiers.
The Akbar incident prompted Deanne Stillman of Slate magazine to conclude that Islamists "may be infiltrating the military in order to undermine it."
That infiltration also has a mundane quality; take the example of Nabil Elibiary: An Islamist who protests the "defaming" of bin Laden and defends polygamy, he also led the holiday prayer service at an Air Force base early this year.
Executive-branch insistence on "terrorism" being the enemy, rather than militant Islam, permits this Islamist penetration.
And it continues. The Defense Department responded last week to the chaplain's arrest by defending its hiring practices. Only under external pressure, notably from Sens. Chuck Schumer and Jon Kyl, did it agree to reassess them. Even then, the Pentagon insisted on reviewing the appointments of all 2,800 military chaplains - rather than the 12 Muslims among them.
Political correctness run amok! Which Christian or Jewish chaplains would be accused (as the Washington Times has reported of their Muslim colleague Yee) of "sedition aiding the enemy, spying, espionage and failure to obey a general order"? By pretending not to see that the enemy emerges from one source, the authorities dilute their focus, render their review nearly meaningless and endanger security.
The U.S. government needs to use common sense and focus on militant Islam. It should consider such steps as:
- Breaking off contact with organizations (like the Islamic Society of North America and the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Council) that place Islamists in government jobs.
- Suspending presently employed Muslim personnel who got their jobs through those institutions until their loyalty can be confirmed.
- Working instead with anti-Islamist Muslim groups, such as the Islamic Supreme Council of America for Sunni Muslims and the American Muslim Congress for Shi'ites.
- Confirming that government-employed Muslims do, as many of them swore under oath, "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." A mechanism is needed to identify employees with an Islamist outlook and expel them from government service.
Ironically, the Defense Department finds it easier to kill Islamists in Afghanistan than to exclude them from its own ranks. But only if the latter is carried out can Americans be confident their government is fully protecting them.
Feb. 12, 2004 update: For newer examples of this pattern, see my weblog entry, "More Pentagon Jihadis."
Aug. 12, 2008 update: On the related subject of Islamists in the U.S. security services, see my article, "The West's Islamist Infiltrators," which builds on a longer weblog entry, "Islamists Penetrate Western Security."