One slide in an anti-Muslim class taught to US officers implies that Hamas, through CAIR, infiltrated the Bush administration. Circled in red on the right is Nihad Awad, CAIR's executive director. (Screenshot via Al Jazeera)
Al Jazeera English has revealed that a second anti-Muslim class was taught to senior US military officers. The class was titled “Understanding the Threat to America,” and claimed that Islamists from Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have infiltrated the US government at the highest levels.
The Al Jazeera program “Inside Story” has the details. Watch the program here:
The report came a day after Wired.com’s Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman exposed a similar course being taught at the Defense Department’s Joint Forces Staff College. That class’ presentations included messages like “there is no such thing as ‘moderate Islam’” and advocated for waging “total war” on Islam using “Hiroshima” style tactics.
Al Jazeera reported that the class it revealed was taught at a military base in Virginia, although it’s unclear if it was at the same college where the course Wired exposed was taught.
Both of the anti-Muslim classes contained material prepared by the Strategic Engagement Group, Inc, a private group that contracts with the US military, according to Al Jazeera. MSNBC's Miguel Llanos has background on them:
The firm's website states its president, E.J. Kimball, was formerly a foreign policy counsel to Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., and created the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus.
Myrick earlier wrote to Pentagon chief Leon Panetta voicing her concern that "the political nature of these (class) reviews might inadvertently weaken" military training, Al-Jazeera noted.
Stephen Coughlin, VP of strategic communication initiatives, is described as "the leading expert in the United States on Islamic Doctrine" and a U.S. Army Reserve major with military intelligence expertise.
The group says it formed in 2010 "for the purpose of exposing and defeating efforts to subvert the United States Constitution and subjugate the American People."
The documents shown in the video demonstrate that this class revolved around the far-right conspiracy that groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have close ties to Hamas and have infiltrated the US government and media to impose their agenda. To prove this theory, one slide in the presentation shown by Al Jazeera pictured Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s communications director, with Bill O’Reilly. The implication is that O’Reilly, the brash Fox News personality, is in cahoots with Hooper and CAIR, and by extension, Hamas, because he had Hooper on his show.
“It just about drove them crazy that Bill O’Reilly said I was a stand-up guy,” said Hooper in a phone interview. “It would be laughable if it wasn’t so harmful and divisive in our society. To say that Muslims are infiltrating every level of government and controlling all departments of the government from the Justice Department to the military--it is beyond bizarre, but that’s the nature of conspiracy theories.”
The involvement of a private contractor in these courses should come as no surprise. Anti-Muslim private groups who contract with law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security are ubiquitous, and we now know the military has the same problem. A report from the Political Research Associates documented the use of these private contractors. “In place of sound skills training and intelligence briefings,” the report reads, “a vocal and influential sub-group of the private counterterrorism training industry markets conspiracy theories about secret jihadi campaigns to replace the U.S. Constitution with Sharia law, and effectively impugns all of Islam—a world religion with 1.3 billion adherents—as inherently violent and even terroristic.”
Meanwhile, more details on the first anti-Muslim class exposed by Wired have emerged. Think Progress reporters Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib have obtained hundreds of documents outlining the contents of that course. They report that well-known anti-Muslim figures like Robert Spencer, Steven Emerson, David Yerushalmi and more were cited in the Army class materials.
“These types of things are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Hooper, “and it’s all being done by a cottage industry of Muslim bashers who have unfettered access to spin their conspiracy theories for these leaders in our law enforcement community.”
How many more similar classes will be exposed?