The Wahhabi Trojan Horse in the U.S. Military
The Chaplain Corps within the U.S. military performs a vital function. Young men and women preparing themselves for battle face something that most young people never think twice about: death, imminent death.
A majority of Americans are religious – men and women of faith. Consequently, a majority of our fighting men and women also are people of faith. The Chaplain assigned to a unit serves as the focal point for the faith needs of the men and women in that unit. Most believing Americans are Christian in one form or another; but America has a significant Jewish subculture, a small, but growing, Muslim population, and members of several other faiths, including Buddhist, B’hai, Hindu, and Sikh, among others.
Currently, the largest Muslim segment is black, rising out of the Black Muslim movement of the 1960s; but we also have a significant Bosnian element and a growing Muslim population originating in the Arab world, which in general terms includes all of the Middle East (except Israel), and North Africa.
From a logistics perspective within the Chaplain Corps, it is not possible for the services to place a Chaplain of each faith group in every unit. Instead, Chaplains learn to minister to every faith, at least in the sense that they can meet the immediate needs of men and women preparing for battle.
When a young military man or woman faces another kind of problem outside of the immediate military situation, then the local Chaplain can call in one of his colleagues from the appropriate faith to deal with the specific situation. In this sense, Chaplains work closely together to serve their combined flocks.
All Chaplains have at least a four-year college degree, some type of formal training within their specific faiths, and some level of experience ministering to congregations. Within the military community, each service determines how the available Chaplain billets are allocated among the different faiths. Normally, the allocation is between Christian (including all the various denominations), Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim, according to some formula.
Within the individual religious faiths, and their denominations, each determines its own qualifications for a chaplaincy. Depending on the structure and nature of a specific faith, an appointment may be formalized through a certification board, or as informal as through an individual application by a practicing minister.
Because the people coordinating Chaplain admissions in all the services typically have a Christian background, with a growing Jewish representation, they tend not to be very knowledgeable about the other faiths. It is natural, therefore, that they should turn to organizations that are knowledgeable to qualify Chaplains from these faiths.
In early July 2002, the U.S. Air Force asked the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) for assistance in recruiting Muslim Chaplains. On July 20, 2002, the ISNA announced that it “is recognized by the Department of Defense as an endorser of Chaplains.” As of July 22, 2002, ISNA had vetted all 13 of the Muslim clerics serving in the U.S. military. Since then, it has endorsed four more.
Since 13 Muslim Chaplains were active before the involvement of ISNA, it is reasonable to assume that their endorsement by ISNA was pro forma. This cannot be assumed about the following four, however.
Why should this matter?
The ISNA has been in the forefront of American Islam. It has represented itself as the voice of moderation in the war of words surrounding Islamic terrorism. This is probably why the Air Force considered the ISNA an appropriate source for vetting information. My research has uncovered the additional fact that the ISNA relies upon the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences (GSISS) for its actual vetting information. The GSISS also had developed a reputation for moderation, so even this further connection appears on the surface to be reasonable.
A major player in all these interactions is Dr. Jamal Barzinji, the Director of GSISS, and board member of GSISS and a related moderate organization, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). He is a well-known, articulate spokesman for moderate Islamic interests in America. Not so well known is than in 1980 he was a representative of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), which was deeply involved in providing cover for Wahhabi Muslim extremists (the Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam is the radical branch which is home to Osama bin Laden). In 2002 the president of the WAMY office in Annandale, Va. , was Abdula bin Laden – Osama bin Laden’s younger brother.
Just one year ago, on March 20, 2002, a U.S. Treasury Task Force called Operation Green Quest raided an interrelated group of Islamic Wahhabi interests in northern Virginia Among these were the Herndon, Va., offices of Dr. Barzinji, and the Saar Foundation, created by wealthy Saudi Suleiman Abdul Al-Aziz al-Rajhi.
The Saar Foundation is connected to a former Swiss shell company, Al-Taqwa, whose leading figures included a notorious neo-Nazi and Islamist, Ahmed Huber (the term Islamist refers to Wahhabi-inspired international Islam that is both fundamentalist and terrorist oriented). Al-Taqwa had transferred operations to the United States, but was shut down after 9/11 when its assets were frozen by U.S. presidential order. But operations continued, as the Wahhabi lobby shifted to its backup institutions in northern Virginia.
Operation Green Quest linked Saar to Khalid bin Mahfouz, the former head of the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia and lead financial adviser to the Saudi royal family. Mahfouz was named by French intelligence as a backer of Osama bin Laden, in that he endowed the Muwafaq Foundation, which U.S. authorities have confirmed as part of al Qaeda. Furthermore, Muwafaq’s former chief, Yassin al-Qadi, oversaw the financial penetration of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania by Wahhabi Muslim extremists in the late 1990s.
To put things into perspective, in 1998 Saar received $1.7 billion in donations.
Dr. Barzinji is a trustee and officer of Amana Mutual Funds Trust in Bellingham , Wash. Yaqub Mirza is a fellow board member. He is a Pakistani physicist and financial guru who shares Dr. Barzinji’s Herndon, Va. , office. Samir Salah is another Amana board member and Herndon associate. He ran the Caribbean branch of Al-Taqwa. He also heads a financial firm linked to Saar, and directs the Falls Church, Va. , Mosque, Dar al-Hijra, which is a Wahhabi hotbed. Salah is also deeply involved with the Virginia charity, Taibah International Aid Association, which has a Bosnian branch that is under investigation by Sarajevo authorities.
All of these interrelated individuals and groups matter within the context of this article, because they show up behind the benign façade of the two organizations that are responsible for credentialing any Muslim cleric who becomes a U.S. military Chaplain.
Let’s pass that by once again: Evidence underthed in the past year strongly suggests that Wahhabi Muslim extremists indirectly control the vetting procedure for all Muslim Chaplains in the U.S. military.
The implications for this are staggering. On March 22, 2003 , an American Muslim soldier rolled grenades into the tents of the entire command structure of the 101st Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade command group at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait . One man was killed, and 11 were seriously injured. At this time it is not known whether or not he was under orders from an Islamist cleric.
What we have in place however, is a mechanism that practically guarantees that this will happen with increasing frequency. We already know that a properly motivated Muslim terrorist will willingly kill himself in order to take out an important target.
Military Chaplains have the ability to influence personnel assignments. With proper manipulation, several “sleeper” Chaplains can arrange for a significant number of undercover terrorists to be prepositioned so that they can cause maximum damage to our command structure.
Centcom commander Gen. Tommy Franks is a regular guy who openly moves among his troops when he is in theater. How difficult would it be for a determined undercover terrorist functioning as a soldier or Marine nearby to assassinate him in a suicide attack?
I have no evidence that any of the 17 Muslim Chaplains currently serving in the U.S. military are anything but honorable clerics serving their country during time of war. Nevertheless, the potential problem is very real and immanent.
This is a wake-up call. We must address this potential problem forthwith to ensure that no terrorists have slipped into the ranks of our brave men and women in harms way in Iraq, or anywhere else in our military.
To do any less would be criminally negligent.
Robert G. Williscroft is DefenseWatch Navy Editor