- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 26, 2003

Sen. Jon Kyl’s recent hearing on the radical Islamists’ infiltration of the chaplaincy of the U.S. military and prisons provided disturbing insights in two areas in particular: 1) the successes that Islamic radicals have had in assuming control over the selection of military chaplains; and 2) the different levels of decorum and seriousness with which Democratic senators approach a hearing on critical national security matters.

At the hearing, the Defense Department acknowledged that it had been lax in carrying out security checks for military chaplains and Arabic translators. In the wake of reports that the two groups which have been responsible for endorsing Muslim chaplains for the military themselves have links to terrorist organizations, the Pentagon said it will search for new groups to endorse chaplains.

Some of the most disturbing testimony was presented by J. Michael Waller, a senior editor for Insight magazine and a professor at the Institute of World Politics. Mr. Waller provided a detailed chronology of how Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi came to be a chief architect of the Pentagon’s Muslim cleric training and selection program. Mr. al-Amoudi was stopped at London’s Heathrow Airport Aug. 16 while preparing to board a flight to Syria. A federal affidavit filed in U.S. District Court alleges that Mr. al-Amoudi, who was carrying $340,000 in cash, was attempting to smuggle the money to one or more terrorist organizations operating on Syrian soil — including al Qaeda, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

During the very period when Mr. al-Amoudi and his organizations were involved in the chaplain program, Mr. Waller said, Mr. al-Amoudi “was a senior figure in Northern Virginia-based entities that were either raided or shut down for alleged terrorist financing; he openly spoke out in support of Hamas and Hezbollah, he campaigned for the release of a Hamas leader, and he attempted to secure the release of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader convicted for his role in plotting to bring down civilian airliners and bomb bridges, tunnels and skyscrapers in New York City.”

While Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein worked in a constructive, bipartisan fashion with Mr. Kyl in examining witnesses, Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, clearly did not. When Mr. Waller criticized the FBI for depicting the American Muslim Council (the organization Mr. al-Amoudi headed for many years) as “mainstream,” Mr. Durbin falsely suggested that Mr. Waller was attempting to impugn FBI Director Robert Mueller’s patriotism. For good measure, Mr. Durbin repeatedly interrupted Mr. Waller’s testimony and denounced his carefully documented Insight stories about Mr. al-Amoudi’s activities as going “over that line.”

Mr. Waller has not gone “over that line.” Neither have Mr. Durbin’s Senate colleagues in asking those questions. These are serious problems that require urgent, honest investigation and resolution. There are few more serious dangers than betrayal in the ranks at a time of war.

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