U.S. Army Opens Doors for al Qaeda

Imagine that you command a local al Qaeda cell operating as a nonprofit information and education foundation out of Arlington, Va. You have been ordered to preposition several members for the next big attack on the great Satan. Everywhere you turn, however, you meet walls. Security is so tight that you have abandoned your cell phone and land lines in favor of personal couriers for all but the most routine information.

One of your guys got picked up with a falsified driver’s license in a routine sweep. You lost another member because he insisted on speaking his mind on a Muslim website. You lost a third when he was identified by a computerized scan at a local airport. Yet your orders are clear: You must position three men within the military command structure as soon as possible.

In your hand you hold a snail-mail communication you recently received from a Muslim chaplain stationed at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. This is a Wahhabi Muslim chaplain who was vetted by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). A Wahhabi courier who had delivered your orders last week vouched for the chaplain’s al Qaeda credentials. The courier had entered Canada from Afghanistan, and then simply walked into the United States across the Montana border. That, in itself, had been an interesting job: Arranging for the courier’s pick up by members of the Washington state cell, and transporting him from there to Arlington.

The chaplain’s letter was well done. Written on official Army stationary, it openly solicited your foundation’s help in identifying Arabic-speaking individuals who would be willing to serve in the U.S. Army. It included a copy of the operation order underlying the recruitment effort.

Say what? You have an assignment to place al Qaeda members into the U.S. military, and they are coming to you, looking for recruits? You smile with satisfaction, knowing that your assignment just got much easier, and that your promotion to al Qaeda’s next level just got more certain.

The document enclosed with the chaplain’s letter is the official U.S. Army Oporder that defines the rules for this recruitment. You glance through it, noting the highlights. The program is called the IRR Direct Arab Linguist Program, where IRR stands for Individual Ready Reserve, and carries the designator 09L. The program allows non-citizens with native Arabic fluency to enlist in the Army’s Individual Ready Reserve as E-3s or even E-4s, depending on their educational background. The only security check they undergo is a review of local police records for outstanding warrants or violations.

Following enlistment, these Arabic-language specialists go to a shortened basic training, and thence to intensive English Language training where they become fluent in written and spoken American English. Then they are sent home to await future activation. When activated, they normally serve six months at a time, at locations determined by the needs of the service.

And guess who determines the Arabic language needs of the service, and arranges for individuals to fill them? You smile at the simplicity and cleverness of the plan. An al Qaeda front organization vettes the Muslim chaplains. Another al Qaeda front presents selected individuals to the Army that has inexplicably removed all the barriers that normally would prevent one of these individuals from entering the service in the first place.

The Army trains these individuals, and then puts them on hold pending assignment to sensitive positions, and the Army uses the al Qaeda-selected chaplains to help it place into those sensitive positions the al Qaeda members it trained. And finally, the Muslim chaplains and sometimes the individuals themselves communicate their successful placement to the local al Qaeda cell leaders, who pass this information through their extensive courier network back across the American-Canadian border, and eventually into the hands of Osama bin Laden himself (may Allah bless and keep him).

Is this narrative contrived? Decide for yourself: The ISNA, which officially vettes all Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military, has undeniable Wahhabi connections (see “The Wahhabi Trojan Horse in the U.S. Military,” DefenseWatch, Mar. 23, 2003, and “The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” DefenseWatch, Sept. 24, 2003). The 09L program lowers the entry standards, reduces the security checks, and enables high-level security clearances for individuals whose only qualification for the program is that they are native Arabic (and several regional dialects) speakers (see Operation Order 3-0007 USAREC Annex C).

The positions these individuals eventually fill usually require at least a Secret and frequently a Top Secret security clearance. Although at the time of posting and granting of the higher clearance they undergo a normal background investigation, this process is flawed, because their initial recruitment investigation did not include all the elements that normally are part of recruitment, and this apparently is overlooked in the follow-on investigations. Furthermore, since many of these individuals come from Middle East locations, it simply is not feasible to conduct a routine rigorous background investigation.

Chaplains traditionally aid in placement of individuals with special needs, and when those needs are religious, cultural and linguistic, what could be more natural than for Muslim chaplains to assist in placing Arab language specialists?

Even if the chaplains don’t have a hand in the actual placement, however, they still assist in the original recruitment and in the ultimate religious mentoring of the individuals who enter this program. This means that men with direct Wahhabi links play a personal role in the recruitment and eventual counseling of men who bear our country no allegiance, and probably are admirers, if not actual members, of Osama bin Laden’s international terror organization, al Qaeda.

These potential traitors handle sensitive documents every day of their active postings. They often meet and closely work with senior members of our military and diplomatic corps. If activated by their controllers, whether by a Muslim chaplain or a civilian outsider, just one of these individuals can cause incalculable damage to our ability to fight international terror.

What blindered back-room military bureaucrat thought up this foolishness? Whose side is he on, anyway?

Robert G. Williscroft is DefenseWatch Navy Editor

Submariner, diver, scientist, author & adventurer. 22 mos underwater, a yr in the equatorial Pacific, 3 yrs in the Arctic, and a yr at the South Pole. BS Marine Physics & Meteorology, PhD in Engineering. Authors non-fiction, Cold War thrillers, and hard science fiction. Lives in Centennial, CO.

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