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US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Slams Improper Military Training on Islam

Wired reports:

America’s top military officer condemned in the strongest possible terms a Defense Department course that taught troops to prep for a “total war” on Islam using “Hiroshima”-style tactics.

“It was totally objectionable, against our values and it wasn’t academically sound,” Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon press conference on Thursday. The instructor responsible for the course, Army Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley, is “no longer in a teaching status,” Dempsey added — but he is still employed at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va.

Dempsey ordered a review of teaching materials last month. The story is now being reported widely – it’s even made its way onto the BBC Radio 4 Today programme (with input from Lawrence Kolb of the Center for American Progress – go to 2hr 46m 25s).

Yesterday, Wired reported on some of the material included in the course:

…For the better part of the last decade, a small cabal of self-anointed counterterrorism experts has been working its way through the U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement communities, trying to convince whoever it could that America’s real terrorist enemy wasn’t al-Qaida — but the Islamic faith itself. In his course, Dooley brought in these anti-Muslim demagogues as guest lecturers. And he took their argument to its final, ugly conclusion.

…Dooley lays out a possible four-phase war plan to carry out a forced transformation of the Islam religion… International laws protecting civilians in wartime are “no longer relevant,” Dooley continues. And that opens the possibility of applying “the historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki” to Islam’s holiest cities, and bringing about “Mecca and Medina[‘s] destruction.”

Improper training on Islam for military and law-enforcement is a subject that has come under increasing scrutiny over the past year and a half: a critical article appeared in the Washington Post in December 2010, and there was a lengthy article in the Washington Monthly in March 2011 which prompted an expression of concern from Joe Lieberman, in his capacity as Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman. A report by the progressive Political Research Associates also appeared in spring 2011, while the summer saw critical pieces on CNN and NPR, as well as an earlier report in WiredWired also ran a second piece in October. This year has seen troubling stories involving the NYPD and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department in Tennessee.

The latest Wired piece has details of some of the guest lecturers used by Dooley, with links to original sources:

Shireen Burki declared during the 2008 election that “Obama is bin Laden’s dream candidate.” In her Joint Forces Staff College lecture, she told students that “Islam is an Imperialist/Conquering Religion.” (.pdf)

Stephen Coughlin…. suggested [link] that al-Qaida helped drive the overthrow of Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak and Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi. It was part of a scheme by Islamists to conquer the world, he added. And Coughlin mocked those who didn’t see this plot as clearly as he did, accusing them of “complexification.”

…Former FBI employee John Guandolo told the conspiratorial World Net Daily website last year that Obama was only the latest president to fall under the influence of Islamic extremists… Guandolo’s paper, titled “Usual Responses from the Enemy When Presented With the Truth” (.pdf), was one of hundreds of presentations, documents, videos and web links electronically distributed to the Joint Forces Staff College students. Included in that trove: a paper alleging that “it is a permanent command in Islam for Muslims to hate and despise Jews and Christians” (.pdf). So was a video lecture from Serge Trifkovic, a former professor who appeared as a defense witness in several trials of Bosnian Serb leaders convicted of war crimes, including the genocide of Muslims. A web link, titled “Watch Before This Is Pulled,” supposedly shows President Obama — the commander-in-chief of the senior officers attending the course — admitting that he’s a Muslim.

Most of these names are familiar: in 2010, Coughlin took part in an unofficial “Fort Hood Memorial” event alongside Gen “Jerry” Boykin, Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem, and Robert Spencer; Guandolo was the focus of last summer’s NRP piece, which focused on police training in Ohio. In 2009, Trifkovic took part in a “Preserving Western Civilization” conference organised by Dr Michael H. Hart, an astrophysicist who claims that human history should be interpreted by considering differences in racial IQs – I discussed this here.

3 Responses

  1. Thanks – this is such an astonishing story that I’m surprised it’s not getting still more coverage. There seems an odd contrast between this story and the Ford Hood shooting where it seemed officials erred in the other direction, in avoiding subtle danger signs (like asking Al-Awlaki about the rights and wrongs of suicide attacks.)

  2. […] should be recalled that over the last 18 months or so a number of reports have highlighted how unsuitable individuals have been employed to give training to military and law-enforcement in […]

  3. […] discussed the case here; the content of Dooley’s course came to widespread attention following reports in Wired, […]

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