By: Mark Steyn
Date: October 19, 2003
Source: "Linkage Logarithms," published by the Washington Times.
About the Author: Mark Steyn is a journalist, columnist, and film and theater critic. He is a senior contributing editor for a large number of Hollinger, Inc. Publications, a senior North American columnist for the United Kingdom's Telegraph Group, the North American editor for The Spectator, a writer for the Jerusalem Post, the Irish Times, and the National Review, as well as Western Standard.
Mark Steyn's syndicated columns appear internationally, and he has been published in dozens of periodicals and newspapers worldwide. His political leanings are strongly conservative, and he is known for his sharp wit and cutting satire. He often writes on foreign policy issues. He has been vocally, and prolifically opposed to the Canadian Liberal Party policies, including multiculturalism, public healthcare, gun control, high taxation, secession of Quebec, and anti-Americanism. He was an outspoken proponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and continues to voice his support of military actions in that global region; he is an outspoken critic of the United Nations, which he has favored disbanding. If that does not occur, he has suggested that the United States should withdraw from membership or participation in UN-related activities. He is scornful of nations that have opposed the war in Iraq.
It is his contention that "the media aren't interested in showing you images that might rouse the American people to righteous anger, only images that will shame and demoralize them." Steyn asserts that the Internet is the most honest source of real-world information about political and world events at present. He has contended that the media has become so fond of fictionalized sensationalism, and so wary of offending extremist groups, that there is a strong tendency to report what is likely to achieve a predictable reaction, rather than suggesting a more frightening truth: it is easier to hypothesize that a sniper might be a stereotypic white loner than to contemplate a connection between the sniper and extremist religious group members linked to recent acts of terrorism in the United States.
A year ago, when the self-regarding buffoon Chief Charles Moose was bungling the Washington sniper investigation and the cable-news shows were full of endless psychological profiles of "white male loners," a few of us columnists entertained the notion that the killer was linked to Islamist terrorism.
The Chicago Sun-Times' Richard Roeper thought this was so absurd he very kindly apologized to readers on my behalf. "An awful lot of conservatives really, really wanted the snipers to be terrorists," explained Richard. "But they were wrong. I'll say that because they never will."
Even at the time, the Roeper position required a certain suspension of disbelief. John Allen Muhammad was a Muslim, a supporter of al Qaeda's actions, a man who marked the events of September 11, 2001, by changing his name to "Muhammad" and a man who marked the first anniversary of September 11 by buying the Chevy Caprice subsequently used in the sniper attacks. Coincidence? Of course. It's only a handful of conservative kooks who would even think otherwise.
Interesting item from the London Evening Standard last week:
"Evidence has emerged linking Washington sniper John Allen Muhammad with an Islamic terror group. Muhammad has been connected to Al Fuqra, a cult devoted to spiritual purification through violence. The group has been linked to British shoe bomber Richard Reid and the murderers of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan last year."
Hmm. Might be nothing. Might be just another coincidence. Lot of them around at the moment—like that Saudi Cabinet minister who coincidentally stayed in the same hotel on the night of Sept. 10 as some of the September 11 terrorists. Just one of those things. But the authorities seem to be taking the links more seriously than when they first surfaced a year ago.
Here's another coincidence: The guy who heads up the organization that certifies Muslim chaplains for the U.S. military was arrested at Dulles Airport last month and charged with illegally accepting money from Libya. The month before that, Abdurahman Alamoudi was caught by the British trying to smuggle some $340,000 into Syria.
Think about that for a minute. Ten years ago, at an American military base, at a ceremony to install the first imam in this country's armed forces, it was Mr. Alamoudi who presented him with his new insignia of a silver crescent star. And the guy's a bagman for terrorists.
Infiltration-wise, I would say that's pretty good. The arthritic bureaucracy at the CIA say oh, no, it would be impossible for them to get any of their boys inside al Qaeda. Can't be done. But the other side has no difficulty getting their chaps set up in the heart of the U.S. military.
What kind of chaplains did Mr. Alamoudi's American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council pick out to serve our men and women in uniform? Well, among them was Capt. James "Yousef" Yee, recently detained under suspicion of spying at Guantanamo Bay. Also arrested were two Arabic translators, found with classified documents from Gitmo on their CDs, etc.
Infiltration-wise, that's also pretty good. The CIA say, sorry, folks, the best we can do with all the gazillions of dollars we get is monitor phone calls from outer space. But the other side has no difficulty getting their boys inside America's most secure military base and principal terrorist detention center.
The Pentagon, of course, is taking this subversion of its chaplaincy program seriously. It's currently reviewing all its chaplains. By "all," I mean not just all the Muslim chaplains, but also all the Catholic, Episcopalian, Jewish ones. After all, it might just be another one of those coincidences that the chaplain detained for spying is Muslim and that the organizations that certified him are Muslim. Best to investigate the Catholics just to be on the safe side.
If the Democrats hadn't decided to sit out the war on terror by frolicking on Planet Bananas for the duration, they could be seriously hammering the administration on this. Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber, while in prison was converted to radical Islamism by a chaplain who came to Britain under a fast-track immigration program for imams set up by Her Majesty's Government. They felt they had a shortage of Muslim chaplains, and not knowing much about the business or where to look for 'em felt it easiest to put up a big neon sign at Heathrow saying, "Hey, mullahs, come on down." It all seemed to be working well until they noticed that these guys seemed to be the spiritual mentors of a lot of the wackiest terrorists.
So how come, two years after September 11, groups with terrorist ties are still able to insert their recruiters into America's military bases, prisons and pretty much anywhere else they get a yen to go? It's not difficult to figure out: Wahhabism is the most militant form of Islam, the one followed by all 19 of the September 11 terrorists and by Osama bin Laden. The Saudis—whose state religion is Wahhabism—fund the spread of their faith in lavishly endowed schools and mosques all over the world and, as a result, traditionally moderate Muslim populations from the Balkans to South Asia have been dramatically radicalized. How could the federal government be so complacent as to subcontract the certification of chaplains in U.S. military bases to Wahhabist institutions?
Here's an easy way to make an effective change: Less Wahhabism is in America's interest. More Wahhabism is in the terrorists' interest. So why can't the U.S. introduce a policy whereby, for the duration of the war on terror, no organization directly funded by the Saudis will be eligible for any formal or informal role with any federal institution?
That would also include the pro-Saudi Middle East Institute, whose "adjunct scholar" is one Joseph C Wilson IV. Remember him? He's the fellow at the center of the Bob-Novak-published-the-name-of-my-CIA-wife scandal. The agency sent him to look into the European intelligence stories about Saddam trying to buy uranium in Africa. He went to Niger, drank mint tea with government flacks, and then wrote a big whiny piece in the New York Times after the White House declined to accept his assurances nothing was going on. He was never an intelligence specialist, he's no longer a "career diplomat," but he is, like so many other retired ambassadors, on the House of Saud's payroll. And the Saudis vehemently opposed war with Saddam.
Think about that. To investigate Saddam Hussein's attempted acquisition of uranium, the United States government sent a man in the pay of the Saudi government. The Saudis set up schools that turn out terrorists. They set up Islamic lobby groups that put spies in our military bases and terror recruiters in our prisons. They set up think tanks that buy up and neuter the U.S. diplomatic corps. And their ambassador's wife funnels charitable donations to the September 11 hijackers.
But it's all just an unfortunate coincidence, isn't it? After all, the Saudis are our friends. Thank goodness.
Significant concern has been expressed through some media, particularly conservative political Internet sites, that the Saudi influence in the United States is being used as a potential incubator of terrorist cells, or, at least, of strong anti-American sentiment. At the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C., the influence of Saudi Arabia on the prison and military populations has been extensively researched. Those studies suggest that many millions of dollars have been allegedly spent by the Saudi Arabian government on the spreading of pro-al-Qaeda doctrine among United States prison inmates and military personnel. The recruitment and organization of ideological and political extremist groups among those two captive populations has been reported throughout recorded history.
Dr. Michael Waller asserted in his testimony before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary in October of 2003, that "Islamist terrorists view conversions of non-Muslims—and even moderate Muslims to Islamism as vital to their effort. U.S. counterintelligence is vigilant against recruitment of American military personnel by foreign intelligence services, but has been blind toward the possible recruitment of American officers into Wahabi political extremism or Islamist terrorist networks."
According to the research reported by the Institute of World Politics, not only did the Muslim Brotherhood limitedly infiltrate the United States military, but as many as nine of the fourteen Islamic chaplains (imams) in the U.S. military (in 2003) received some religious training from the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Leesburg, Virginia, which receives its major financial support from Saudi Arabia.
Finally, the same research report cited by Waller in his Senate Committee testimony, concluded that Saudi-sponsored Wahabi organizations are predominant among the Muslim prison recruiting agents in the United States. Wahabists in the prison system typically espouse strong anti-American sentiments.
Steyn, Mark. The Face of the Tiger. Stockade Books, 2002.
Steyn, Mark. Mark Steyn From Head To Toe: An Anatomical Anthology. Stockade Books, 2004.
Kimball, R., and Kramer, H. eds. Lengthened Shadows: America And Its Institutions In The Twenty-First Century. Encounter Books, 2004.
GlobalSecurity.org. "Testimony, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary—Terrorist Recruitment and Infiltration in the United States: Prisons and Military as an Operational Base. October 14, 2003. Dr. Michael Waller, Annenberg Professor of International Communication, The Institute of World Politics." <http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/library/congress/2003_h/031014waller.htm> (accessed July 4, 2005).