Inside the Ring: Military hit for correctness

Jun 20, 2012 Issues: Domestic Radicalization / Radicalization Hearings, Counterterrorism

The Washington Times -- by Bill Gertz

The U.S. military is guilty of political correctness toward domestic Islamic terror, according to a congressional report made public Wednesday that concludes al Qaeda is using U.S.-based Muslim radicals to plan mass casualty attacks.

"Homegrown radicalization is now the vanguard of al Qaeda's strategy to continue attacking the United States and its allies," said the report on domestic extremism by the House Homeland Security Committee. The report was based on several hearings held by Committee Chairman Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican.

The report said evidence of the threat comes from recordings made public in Pakistan by the core al Qaeda terrorist group, as well from an English-language magazine produced in Yemen by two American jihadists. Additional evidence came from an American suicide bomber in Somalia who urged Muslims to wage "jihad in America."

The report said violent Islamist extremism is "the No. 1 terrorist threat to this nation."

Of particular concern, according to the report, is the threat posed by radical Muslims to U.S. military communities. The terror threat to military communities is "severe" and growing. It includes the use of "insiders," like Maj. Niidal Hassan, the terrorist who carried out the 2009 Fort Hood shooting attack that killed 13 people and wounded 29 others.

The report faulted the U.S. military for "political correctness" toward Islam, which the report called a "potentially devastating development" for the security of troops and their families.

The Obama administration "chose political correctness over accurately labeling and identifying certain terrorist attacks appropriately, thereby denying Purple Heart medals to killed and wounded troops in domestic terror attacks," the report said.

The report stated that the June 2009 shooting attack by a U.S. Muslim convert, Carlos Bledsoe, on a U.S. Army recruiting office in Arkansas highlighted homegrown terrorists' targeting of military facilities.

"Bledsoe specifically targeted the U.S. military to avenge what he believed was its mistreatment of Muslims," the report said. "He also had traveled to Yemen and was radicalized to al Qaeda's violent Islamist extremist ideology."

Despite the evidence of terrorist ties, Bledsoe was tried in a civilian state court rather than under federal terrorism charges.

"In another glaring instance of al Qaeda-inspired homegrown terrorism, the government also neglected to indict Maj. Nidal Hasan on any terrorism-related charges, considering the case to be an example of 'workplace violence' despite his reported email communications with the operational leader [of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula], the since-slain American terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki."

Based on the hearings on the domestic Islamist terror threat, the committee concluded that radicalization of American Muslims remains "a real and serious homeland security threat." The report also found that Muslims in the United States are not cooperating enough with law enforcement in countering the threat.

Significantly, the report stated that the U.S. government needs to "confront the Islamist ideology driving radicalization.

The report also warned that Islamist terrorists are being created in U.S. prisons as the result of a policy of permitting radical Muslim clerics to lecture in prisons or to distribute jihadist materials.

The report also said that in Somalia, more than 40 American Muslims were radicalized and recruited by the Al-Shabaab group, an al Qaeda affiliate and may pose a direct threat to U.S. national security.

The report concluded with a warning that the U.S. government "cannot continue to simply ignore or deflect" the threat posed by radical American Muslims.

"Unfortunately, it appears that within the United States, political correctness has prevented many from sufficiently acknowledging and tackling this dangerous problem," the report says.

"We continue to face an unwavering threat, and must be fully aware that homegrown radicalization is part of Al Qaeda's strategy to continue attacking the United States."

Meanwhile, the same day the report was released, the Pentagon announced it had completed a review of the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) course, "Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism," and other course content to determine whether the material was offensive to Muslims.

"The inquiry into the JFSC elective course … concluded there were institutional failures in oversight and judgment, which allowed the JFSC course to be modified over time in a manner that ceased to include instruction on U.S. [countering violent extremism] policy or counter-terrorism strategy and to adopt a teaching methodology that portrayed Islam almost entirely in a negative way," said Col. Dave Lapan, spokesman for Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"The inquiry recommends the course be redesigned to include aspects of U.S. policy and reduce its reliance on external instruction," Col. Lapan said.

The review was called after Muslim advocacy groups complained that one of the course lecturers was former Joint Staff terror analyst Stephen Caughlin, a specialist on Islamic law who has been a target of Muslim groups for his hardline but accrate views of Islamic law and its use by Muslims in conductng terrorist attacks.

Asked if political correctness was limiting the ability to the military to properly identify enemies in the war on terror: Col. Lapan told Inside the Ring:

"The U.S. military shouldn't be offending Muslims. We work closely with them, and people of all faiths, in many countries around the world. The military is very clear on the enemy, and the threat they pose to the U.S. We seek to dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda and associated forces and counter violent extremism."