Concerns raised by Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and four of her colleagues on the proper vetting of Huma Abedin, the deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, provoke larger questions about Muslim Brotherhood penetration and influence in our government agencies, particularly the Department of Defense (DOD). Recently, we witnessed Pentagon Islamic adviser Louay Safi's reappearance as the political head of the Syrian National Council, a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated group. Among his many other activities, he is also the director of leadership development for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which is the largest Muslim Brotherhood group in the United States.
The president of ISNA, Imam Mohamed Magid serves as a member of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Countering Violent Extremism Working Group. He is a close adviser to the National Security Council as well as to President Obama. He continues to have access to not only the State and Treasury departments but has been used frequently by DOD to formulate responses to incidents that Islamists consider offensive. How comforting. Let's not forget that the ISNA is an unindicated co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial in 2008 for providing funding to the terrorist group Hamas.
An open question is what role Imam Magid played in influencing DHS to cancel a conference on homegrown radical extremism at CIA headquarters in August 2011. We know that the Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR) demanded that the training conference featuring a presentation by Stephen Coughlin, among others, be canceled. It should be recalled that CAIR is also an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial. CAIR was also successful in getting West Point's chaplain to cancel a prayer breakfast in early February by Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, a West Point graduate and former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, because of his views on Islam. So much for the First Amendment.
Based on his position at the ISNA, Mr. Safi has been designated as only one of two "ecclesiastical agents" to act as unpaid consultants to DOD for selecting Muslim chaplains. It should be remembered that Abdurahman Alamoudi, as a result of his close connections to the Clinton White House, had the lead role in establishing the Muslim chaplain programs. He not only nominated but approved which Muslims could serve as chaplains in the U.S. military. For the record, Mr. Alamoudi currently is serving a 23-year sentence in federal prison for his conviction on terrorism-related charges and was proved to be a senior al Qaeda financier as well as a strong supporter of the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas.
Mr. Safi has cast a wide net in DOD. He was also responsible for teaching Islam to U.S. Army military personnel at various bases, including Fort Hood, so that they would be more sensitive to Islamic customs and traditions. This sensitivity training is all done under the guise of our counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy to win the hearts and minds of Muslims first in Iraq and now in Afghanistan. Actually, what's important in the Middle East is "street respect." Once it is established, hearts and minds will follow.
As part of his credentials, Mr. Safi was also named "unindicated co-conspirator No. 4" in the trial of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Sami Al-Arian. Nonetheless, he continues to have access to both DOD and the FBI.
On Oct. 19, 2011, a letter signed by an array of Muslim groups, including CAIR and ISNA, both Muslim Brotherhood organizations, was sent to Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan complaining about the government's use of biased, false and highly offensive training materials about Muslims and Islam. Much of the material utilized by U.S. trainers that the groups complained about was extracted from the Koran and Shariah law.
They demanded that all training material be purged of "biased materials." Furthermore, they demanded that personnel reviews be conducted on all trainers and government employees who promoted biased training and materials and that they be "properly disciplined." Their audacity has no limits.
Yes, our trainers are biased. They took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. This is their bias, one that every American should be proud to support. Instead of vetting our trainers and training materials used for countering violent extremism, the Muslim Brotherhood front organizations that signed the Oct. 19 letter as well as a Wired magazine article used as a primary reference to justify the complaints, should be vetted and their agenda exposed. Their objectives are clear: To silence those Americans who understand the threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood and its strategy to impose Shariah in place of our Constitution using our "own miserable hands."
Another important question: How much influence have these Muslim outreach advisers had in the development of the restricted rules of engagement under which our military is required to fight? In Afghanistan, they must observe rules of engagement that betray their intentions to the locals and then are restricted on use of their weapons, putting their lives in jeopardy.
Our troops are well aware that many Afghan army units, trained with our tax dollars, are negotiating unofficial truces with the Taliban. Complicating this unacceptable situation is the endemic corruption throughout the country.
Our military knows that Afghanistan, with a 90 percent illiteracy rate, will always be a failed state. After 10 years, we should recognize that our COIN strategy has not worked. A few more construction projects and Afghan army units will not turn the tide. We should stop sacrificing American military lives and money, particularly with the draconian budget cuts being forced on our military. If we are to keep faith with our all-volunteer force, a change in direction must be taken now.
Retired Adm. James A. Lyons was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.